Last week, Niki and I flew to San Francisco. The impetus for the trip was the football game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the U.C.Berkeley Golden Bears. Prior to the game, however, we ventured up to wine country for a few days of wonderful food and wine as well as a visit to the beautifully landscaped Matanzas Creek Vineyard gardens.
While in Berkeley, we carved out some time to visit the U.C.BerkeleyBotanic Garden. The Garden is huge and has several special collections in addition to the nine geographic regional collections. We barely touched the treasures that are there so repeat visits will be necessary. What a sacrifice that will be!
In the Mediterranean Garden, we saw Eryngium maritimum (Sea Holly), a silver-leaved perennial that can be grown in Ohio but needs perfect drainage. Also in this garden, was Arbutus unedo (Strawberry Tree) from Italy. When you see the fruits, you can understand the common name. This is also a great tree for winter because the bark is so beautiful. Unfortunately, it is not hardy for us.
Passing through the Garden of Old Roses, I was happy to see that it was not the typical, sterile rose garden but one full of perennials that made it seem more like a cottage garden. There was a fabulous view of San Francisco and the Bay. One of the perennials in the rose garden was Rudbeckia triloba (Brown-Eyed Susan) but it was shorter than usual. I suspect the lack of height was due to less moisture than we tend to give it.
We can grow many of the tender blue salvias but Salvia sagittata (Arrowleaf Sage) was one that was new to me. What a spectacular shade of blue!
Most of us pull what we regard as a weed – Dock – although Europeans grow it as an ornamental. Phytolacca icosandra (Tropical Pokeweed), from Ecuador and seen in the South American Garden, was stunning with its bright magenta racemes and red stems. The most spectacular plant in the South American Garden was Puya venusta from Chile. This member of the bromeliad family has narrow, silvery foliage and tall, eye-catching pink stems with reddish-violet funnel-shaped flowers that tiny wasps were thoroughly enjoying.
Just inside the entrance is a collection of drought tolerant plants. The most interesting was Aloe polyphylla (Spiral Aloe). Many plants have foliage that is arranged in a spiral and they are examples of the Fibonacci numerical sequence. If you Google Fibonacci in Nature, you will see several examples of this phenomenon.
If you find yourself in the Bay area, be sure to visit the U.C.Berkeley Botanic Garden.