The week before the garden tour, I decided to throw caution to the wind and spend the day in San Francisco with a friend. Surely, the garden clean-up could wait?
And it was truly a wonder day - with a visit to the Georgia O'Keefe exhibit at the deYoung and a tasty lunch with a friend. But the true magic was in the visit to the arboretum. It was one of those San Francisco days, with low feathery clouds giving that perfect light for photography. I was a little sorry I had not brought my large camera, but nonetheless, I was happy with my photo of the still pool with the Japanese stone lantern and so much green.
"Is this duck alive?" two tourists from England asked. Yes, alive, and posing perfectly for a picture.
Then my friend and I made our way to the CA Native area, and the late rains has done wonders. I was quite stunned to see a field of native iris in the sun - only 40 miles further south part shade is a requirement.
Here's a close-up of another native iris - clearly quite happy in full sun.
The native mallows contrasted with the still-green grass.
I also tried to capture a river of meadowfoam, but it was beyond the powers of my camera. Still, there was enough to see, such as this beautiful yellow lupine.
And a stunning large ceanothus. "There's one blooming from February through May" said my friend, who has enjoyed watching the many pollinators come to the different species of ceanothus showcased in the garden.
The true stunner this year, though, were the native rhododendrons (Rhododendron occidentale). Slow growing and a little touchy, these miracle plants burst into creamy yellow or pink blossoms in spring, and the heady fragrance distinguishes them from other rhododendron.
The closer you get, the more they will amaze you.
Is this for real? (And why doesn't it look like this in my garden?)
After enjoying the blossoms we headed over to the redwood habitat. On the way, my friend pointed out a giant sequoia - which, interestingly, doesn't really look giant in this botanical garden because the warm winters result in a completely different shape than the one we are used to.
But the coastal redwoods look just like those I see on hikes nearby - and the vegetation is lush and green.
Time flew by and I was sorry to leave. Now I'm hoping to return a few more times this year, to enjoy this magical place.