Native Gardens at the Strybing Arboretum

One of my most favorite things to do when I'm in San Francisco is to visit the Strybing Arboretum and Botanical gardens. Fascinating and beautiful plants from all around the world wait to be discovered.

Of course I always start my tour with a visit to the California section (The picture above shows some Clarkia, I've forgotten which).

While the wildflower season after the rain delights with Iris, poppies, and other colorful plants, the joys of fall (the time when the days get shorter) are more subtle. The summer-dormant meadow shows only a few spots of color.

At first glance, I could spot only poppies and Oenothera hookeri. This native evening primrose blooms for much of the year and "reseeds readily" -- making it less suitable for most home gardens, and a special treat when encountered elsewhere.

As I moved closer, the garden sprang to life. Birds everywhere. Lots of food in seeds and berries, and fewer people in this not so showy part of the garden. Butterflies and pollinators.

Here's someone perched on a blooming buckwheat.

And I'm sure the Asclepias fascicularis (narrow-leaf milkweed) was teeming with life, though I did not actually stop, being on lunch break from a class.

Also some beautiful fall color. A Redbud.

And a Mahonia.

But then I turned around to see a beautiful Manzanita.

In full bloom.

Sooo... Is it spring? Is it fall? No matter. The visit was delightful, and the California area has been significantly expanded since I last had a chance to stop by. Have a look yourself! It's still free (though donations are encouraged).

I finished my visit with some purchases at the excellent gift store an went back to class happy and refreshed.


Hi Town Mouse! It looks like you had a very nice tour. Thank you for showing a blooming manzanita, I've never seen its blooms before.
ryan said…
Nice. The manzanitas are starting already. I was at Strybing a couple of weeks ago. It's really nice.
Country Mouse said…
I like things that will reseed! Oenotheri hookeri sounds like just the thing for some part of my north slope. says "It is one of the first plants into a disturbed site and will stabilize the site providing ground protection with nice flowers. It will fail only when crowded out by other taller plants. I like the plant as it is tough, stable in new environments, and after it has pioneered the new spot it is gradually replaced with the dominant species of the area."

On Calflora says it's found in wetlands generally but not always. And it could be locally native here according to Thomas (Flora of SC Mountains). I wonder how it would survive the marauding hordes of critters?
Thanks TMouse - you've given me a nice item to add to the plant list for that north slope! I'll hvae to get up to Strybing Arboretum one of these days. I want to see the living roof at the Cal. Academy of Sciences too - would make a nice trip.
I held in my hands a gallon pot of the Oenothera hookeri a few months ago and almost put it in my cart. I've always enjoyed its tall spires of flowers at times of year when other things aren't so perky. I had no idea they spread like wildfire, though it comes as no surprise since I've been pulling continually at seedlings and runners from a pink Oenothera (not one of the natives) that I started from seeds twenty years ago.