So close, and yet…
I was in Berkeley last week, mere minutes away from so many places I wanted to visit.
15 minutes away from Annie’s Annuals, where I wanted to grab a few Musschia wollastonii, among other things.
30 minutes away from The Ruth Bancroft Garden, which I learned just this weekend expanded their retail shopping area.
A half hour away the other direction to get to the San Francisco Botanical Garden.
15 minutes away from University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley.
And this one kills me. A mere block away from Cactus Jungle.
Sadly, there was no time. Meetings started before places opened, and ended after they were closed. I’m kicking myself for not scheduling a return flight a couple hours later just to get a quick fix.
Double sadly, I did a California road trip a couple years ago from Palm Springs to Portland, and visited most of these places, bored my travel companion taking a million photos, and lost most of the photos in a computer backup failure. Tragedy!
All that remains are my memories and a few precious photos of UC Berkeley Botanical Garden.
The most famous Mexican Weeping Bamboo in the world (don’t fact check me on that) stands guard at the front gate. True story? I’ve been lamenting the increasingly mild winters we’ve been getting here, dearly missing the snowstorms I used to so look forward to. But this is the plant I console myself with. If it’s going to turn into zone 9 gardening around here, this is the first thing I’ll plant.
Near the entrance there’s greenhouse with what my memory tells me were a bunch of science fair experiments going on. Who knows. Memory is such an unreliable way to recount a garden. I so wish I had my full photo collection, but I did come away with a shot of one of the big weird plants, Asplenium nidus.
The area that I remember best is the desert garden that scrambles up the hillside. Oh, to have that weather and that kind of drainage. I’ve got a serious case of GCE, Gardening Conditions Envy. It’s a real thing. Check with the CDC. No, don’t. But it feels very real, I definitely have the fever.
The second thing I’m planting, if we continue these zone 9 winters, is a Protea like this. Generally I don’t pine for flowers, but this is an exception. Oh, I can’t stand that I can’t grow this.
Now, a lobelia seems like a safer gamble than a protea or bamboo you can’t grow here. It’s not quite such an investment, and maybe you could protect it or save seed for the winter. I’m quite taken with this Lobelia aberdarica, which I’ve never seen for sale in a nursery. Which of course makes me want it more, because of my RPDS, Rare Plant Deficiency Syndrome.
Luckily, we have decent luck growing Dasylirion here if you don’t get too disappointed if a particularly soggy winter takes them out, so not all hope is lost.
There is also an extensive garden with plants that are a little more attainable for us in zone 8. I so love the meandering branches of mature manzanitas.
I find the desert garden plants much easier to photograph on a bright sunny day. I wished I’d had some of that stereotypical bay area fog for better lighting / less glare, but it’s still fun to remember this stretch of the garden. Iris confusa is a super cool plant I never knew I needed until it was described to me as “Bamboo like.” This plant is near the top of the wish list this year.
I always appreciate a good hardworking, evergreen, glossy groundcover. Beesia deltophylla rather reminds me of a wild ginger which is a plant I love but has so far been difficult for me to keep alive.
And I’ve never met an Arisaema I didn’t like.
I was sad to have to skip a return trip to the garden while I was in the area. Fortunately it’s not too far away. Next time, San Francisco. Next time.