Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tilden Botanical Garden

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.

10 comments:

Tatyana said...

The lillies are gorgeous, I would chose them if I needed to chose. But I like all the plants. Thank you Mouse!

Daffodil Planter said...

No place like home--complete with Towhees! Wonderful tour though.

Barbara E said...

Tilden looks wonderful. I do love those lilies, and your five stalks are something to be proud of!

ryan said...

Tilden is great. I'm lucky to pass by there all the time. Sometimes it's hard not to make my blog just about the Tilden botanic garden instead of my own. I'm pretty sure the calochortus are C. amablis like you said, they've been blooming since late April, and I think the lilies are L. humboltii, rather than L. pardalinum. Great to see someone else appreciating the garden online.

ryan said...

Scratch that last comment. I started to think it was a leopard lily and so when I drove by there this evening, I got motivated to go in and check, and your patch is labeled L. pardalinum. So nice. A bunch of lilies there had popped, at least five different kinds are going right now. And you're right, their woolly blue curls are looking so happy. That garden is so great. I used to just pass by, but I've been stopping more and more, and there's always something new.

lostlandscape (James) said...

Great tour. I really appreciate raised beds as well. Nothing quite like giving a small plant a boost closer to eye-level to help appreciate it better.

Susan_Morrison said...

Sounds like a fabulous day! A lot of my plant ID classes were at Tilden during design school. Haven't been for a visit in over a year, so will have to schedule one. And I agree, the views on the drive there are incredible - I take full advantage of all the turnouts!

chari and matt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chari and matt said...

One of our favorite places since we discovered it during their plant sale this year. I spent Father's Day morning with my daughter, in fact. She loves all the steps and bridge. Oooh, the bridges.

Made a nice find, too. I had noticed that all of the beds are numbered. I figured somebody's desk had a lot of plant lists that corresponded with those bed numbers, and I wanted it. Well, I accidentally found the binder (it was barely labelled) that lists all of the garden regions, all of the beds, and all of the plants. It's even CROSS-LISTED so you can look up the plant and then see what beds it is in. The not-so-little geek in me gasped.

ryan said...

I saw some enormous, eight or ten foot tall lilium humboldtii there today, might be the lily you saw that was so tall. They're a little more orangey than the leopard lilies. They've been blooming in that garden there for a while. I saw a huge patch of leopard lilies that just opened. So nice.