Thursday, May 12, 2016

A local Botanical treasure

I had the pleasure of visiting the U.C. Botanical Garden yesterday, in part to visit and research the new Julia Morgan Hall and natives plantings for an upcoming article in Pacific Horticulture magazine. Although I didn't need reminding, this world famous botanic garden up the hill from Strawberry Canyon in Berkeley qualifies as a local treasure. The Julia Morgan hall was moved from another university site to its present location in 2014 and in keeping with Ms Morgan's philosophy of buildings fitting in with their natural surroundings (being an integral part of them), it now already seems as if the hall has been there for decades.
I also had a chance to visit parts of the Garden and since I had my camera with me I took a few photos of things that caught my eye. So in lieu of uploading photos of my garden, this week I offer photos of that Garden walk I took. For those wanting to learn more about the Garden, here's the link to UCBG.
So, here are a few of the photos, starting with a photo of the hall.

Julia Morgan Hall. From Wikipedia " When the building opened in 1911, its name changed to Senior Women's Hall. The hall gave women's groups at Berkeley a place to meet and represented a significant step toward gender equality at the university."

Leucospermum grandiflorum. This straight species pincushion shrub's flowers have a slightly different look than many of the hybrids available in the trade.

Ranunculus cortusifolius. This Buttercup from the Canary Islands is a colorful addition to any garden. 

Asian Garden pond and water lilies. This peaceful part of the garden not only is a lovely place to sit and lose one's self but it will eventually be a destination for hundreds of newts.

Water iris. This huge clump of aquatic iris in the same pond seen above is always a welcome sight in the spring. 

This strange sight are masses of seedpods on a Cordyline, possibly C. petiolaris (I couldn't find its ID sign). Quite a colorful and weird sight for a plant that many people never even see flower let alone produce these striking 'fruits.'

Medicinal Garden. This decorative railing leads one down into the Medicinal Garden. Of course taken to its furthest reach, all plants are medicinal (that is, they change some part of our body's biochemistry) but the plants here have been used by peoples in various parts of the world for millennia.

There's big in the plant world and then there's BIG. This Titan arum produces the biggest flower in the world. From the UCBG website "The 'Corpse Flower' is not actually a single flower but an inflorescence (a stalk of many flowers). The flowers are a mixture of tiny male and female flowers held out of sight at the base of the central phallus-like structure (spadix) surrounded by a pleated skirt-like covering (spathe) that is bright green on the outside and deep maroon inside when opened. The female flowers mature before the male (pollen producing) flowers which avoids self-pollination."

If this plant in the Garden's tropical greenhouse looks familiar it might be. It's a Chenille plant (Acalypha hispida). Its common name refers to the soft, fuzzy, tube-shaped flowers. 

Orchid species. I couldn't find the sign for this orchid, though its flowers look a bit like Epidendrums to me. Very pretty!

The Garden is divided into geographic regions and this photo is of the South African hill. When I volunteered at the Garden in 2007, I joined a small group propagating plants from this part of the world (a favorite region of mine). Walking the hill again brought back many fond memories.

Prickly Pear cactus (Opuntia). As many people know, this cactus got its common name from the fruits being edible enough that native peoples included it in their diets. 

This Echinopsis huascha demonstrates how spectacular flowers can be on certain cacti. I sometimes have to remind gardeners coming to our nursery that flowers on many cacti and succulents are must-stop destinations for various pollinators, including hummingbirds.

Euphorbia horrida. This plant, commonly known as African Milk Barrel (there's a common name for you!), isn't horrid at all but rather charming. That said I wouldn't want to fall into it ...

Desert House. This enclosed structure holds an astonishing variety of cacti, succulents and other dry garden specimens. If you like these plants, this is rather like that candy store in the Harry Potter novel.

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