The visit to Filoli was pleasant enough, but I'd been plotting to go to the botanical garden in Tilden Regional Park in the Oakland hills for a long time. Over a year ago, Country Mouse and I went for an excellent class on pruning native plants, but it had been too long.
My friend's visit was the best excuse, so we set off on a sunny afternoon last week.
Once you're through the Caldecott Tunnel, the drive is spectacular, with amazing vistas of San Francisco and the bay. It was a bit overcast, clouds rolling in later in the day, just the thing you want to show a visitor. And the botanical garden itself was a treasure trove of California native plants.
Different regions of the garden are devoted to different habitats, with a redwood forest, northern rain forest, sierra foothill and alpine areas, a desert region and more. Above a picture of Rhododendron occidentale (western azelea), from the redwood forest.
The garden staff carefully prepares the soil in each area so the plants have a chance of survival in areas where they would not normally grow. For example, the calochortus below is most likely Calochortus amabilis and likes rocky and well drained soil, so it's grown in a raised bed.
The Triteleia below likes the same conditions and looks stunning (and how nice to have the plants at eye level!).
I must admit I did not take very good notes, especially when the plants seemed to be clearly unsuitable for my clumpy clay.
But even plants I can grow, though, looked healthier and bigger at Tilden. Here's a Carpenteria californica, still lush and blooming.
The expert staff, moisture coming in from the bay, and maybe just time do the job. We were told during our last visit that plants only get a name plate when they've survived for a full year.
Here are some lillies, probably the same ones I showed in my Garden Blogger's Bloom Day post. I am so thrilled I have 5 flower stalks. Tilden had 30? 40?
Another lily was 8-10 feet tall, with the stem partly trailing over some branches and \huge blossoms. Don't know what it was, but we were impressed.
Same with Trichostema lanatum Woolly Blue Curls. I'm thrilled that mine has not died (well, it's not a year old yet), in Tilden they almost grow like weeds.
Tilden is famous for the many different species of Arctostaphylos (manzanita) of all sizes. Many are endangered and either grow only in Tilden or only few other specimens exist in the wild.
But the more ordinary plants are also shown to good effect, as this beautiful display of Clarkia amoena (Farewell to spring).
There was too much to see, not all of it obvious. Many clever ideas, like these succulents in the wall.
I already want to go back to see whether the cactus is still blooming, and what else there is to see.
But I'm also happy to look out at my own garden, grasses swaying in the wind, the yarrow putting out blossoms, and the Towhees waiting for me to refill the bird bath.