Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Public Garden Treasures

We are surrounded by some of the most interesting public and botanical gardens here in the Bay Area. Most of you will be aware of the most popular ones but I thought I would share a brief list, to put them front and center.
1. U.C. Botanical Garden. This world renowned treasure is one of the premiere botanic gardens in the country. Located up near the Lawrence Hall of Science above Strawberry Canyon, it not only houses an amazing array of botanically catalogued plants but it is a living museum of plants indigenous to plants from around the world. It is also a premier research facility.
2. S.F. Botanical Garden. Though different in appearance and layout, the SF Botanic Garden is another amazing way to spend an afternoon and it's right there in Golden Gate Park, next to a number of other wonderful places to visit. Both botanic gardens hold regular public events and of course plant sales.
3. Regional Parks Botanical Garden (Tilden). This wonderful botanic garden has an amazing selection of California native plants, including one of the country's best collections of Manzanitas. Located in Tilden Park in the Berkeley hills, it is an important piece of the study and preservation of native plants.
4. U.C. Santa Cruz Arboretum. As they state "specialties are world conifers, primitive angiosperms, and bulb-forming plant families." The arboretum concentrates on plants from Australia, South Africa and California. This includes rare species that are not otherwise available for study in American botanical gardens.
5. The Ruth Bancroft Garden. This Bay Area treasure located in Walnut Creek focuses on drought tolerant and dry garden plants and has one of the country's most amazing collections of succulents and dry garden species. Well designed, much of it planted by Ms. Bancroft herself, it is now world famous.
6. Quarryhill Botanical Garden. Though a bit off the beaten path in Glen Ellen, Sonoma, this amazing and unique botanic garden was built out of an old quarry. Unique among local bot gardens, "Quarryhill is a wild Asian woodland, intentionally not manicured and featuring one of the largest collections of wild-sourced Asian plants in the world."
7. Hakone Japanese Garden. Set on 18 acres in Saratoga, this 100 year old garden invites you to "leisurely stroll the hill and koi pond garden, ascend the moon bridge, have tea overlooking the dry landscape garden, or enjoy quiet reflection in Hakone’s tea and bamboo gardens."
8. Hayward Japanese Garden.  Though only 3.5 acres, this peaceful garden "follows Japanese garden design principles, using California native stone and plants. No stains were used on the wood constructions. Nails and fasteners are recessed, and all wood was notched, and aged, to simulate the appearance of a traditional Japanese garden."
9. The Wave Garden. One of those Bay Area secrets, Richmond's Wave Garden is a pocket-sized delight. Overlooking the bay at Pt. Richmond, it is a dry garden planted along a series of curving cement pathways that crisscross like a switchback hiking trail. It holds a variety of smaller trees, California perennials, dry garden plants and a myriad of succulents. 

There are of course other garden treasures here in the Bay Area; these are just the ones that come to mind (and that I've visited). Here's hoping you find time to visit them.

Today's photos are once again a snapshot of the early fall season in my garden. 


Celosia Sunday Wine Red. One last photo of this beauty, which is getting huge. If you're only used to the tiny, multi-colored Celosia in 6 packs, this vigorous multi-branching species will come as a shock. Love the color!


Dahlia 'Lagoon Violet.' I don't always have luck with Dahlias but so far so good with this beauty. BTW, nature never fails to amaze me. Think of the 'coding' in this kind of plant, that produces exactly symmetrical rows of petals. Again and again and again on every flower. 


For some reason saying the word 'moth' reminds me of Peter Sellers and The Pink Panther, the way Inspector Clousseau says "He received a buummp on the head." Does he say the word moth, for him 'muuth" in the movie, I can't remember. In any case they're everywhere these days (moths), though I'm not sure why this one is taking an interest in my Hibiscus flower.


Hold the presses, my Cunonia (Butterknife tree) is finally blooming! Here you can see the first of the bottlebrush-like flowers opening. Very exciting!


Correa 'Wyn's Wonder.' Not sure why this Aussie native is staying so low and spreading but, well, that's gardening. Plants don't always do what you expect them to do. Not that I mind really as it makes for a pretty (and tough) ground cover.


Not a painting but it could be! "Somewhere in Tuscany ..." Nope, just my Thunbergia Arizona Red gradually enveloping my east facing fence. Very picturesque.


"Thar's gold in them pots!" Well, golden sedum. This guy's been hanging out in this shallow pot for many years and toughing it out.


Speaking of gold, my Duranta 'Gold Mound' has finally established itself and reached the size I'd been hoping for. Not sure why it took so long (5 years) or why it has yet to bloom but it's certainly lovely as is.


Polystichum setiferum Plumosum Densum + Tolmiea menziesii. My favorite fern plus one of my favorite California natives. Both do well in quite a bit of shade.


Fallopia  japonica variegata. Hey, look, it's flowering. Cute sprays of tiny white flowers add to this plant's charms.



If ever a plant was aptly named it's this Gomphrena 'Fireworks.' It does indeed look like this flower is exploding out and the yellow tips only add to the sensation of action. A prolific bloomer and tougher than you'd think.
 


Hedychium greenii. The aptly named 'fire ginger' puts out lovely coral-red flowers in early fall. Simpler than some ginger flowers but certainly beautiful.
 


I just love my Gazania 'Nahui.' It looks like a miniature seedless sunflower, except that flowers barely escape the low and verdant green foliage.



This perennial poppy should be better known. Papaver atlanticum (Moroccan poppy) is a tough, long blooming, drought tolerant perennial. This Flore Pleno variety has a semi-double form, emphasizing the pleated leaves.
 


Clematis armandii 'Snowdrift.' This evergreen, sun-loving Clematis is one tough and happy denizen. Although it's early fall, it's putting out the burgundy-colored new growth that's the usual hallmark of spring.
 


Gazing ball. I love this addition to my garden and it's a reminder that art really does have a place in one's garden. I have a lot of it, tucked in here and there. Many are bird or animal related, a way to invoke the spirit of these creatures.
 

Though not an exciting photo, I wanted to include this shot of my Begonia grandis. It has to be the easiest thing to grow and self seeds aggressively. Large heart-shaped leaves have the barest hint of red on the edge and the sprays of pink flowers are very typical of many begonias.


I thought this Echeveria setosa deminuta looked nice in this Shell pot so it's found a new home. 


Although I've taken close-up photos of my amazingly fragrant Clerodendrum fragrans flowers, here's a photo of the whole plant that gives you an idea of just how big the leaves can get. And this is still a very young plant. Very tropical but has done well here.

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