www.sfbotanicalgarden.orgSan Francisco Botanical Garden

An urban oasis in the heart of Golden Gate Park!

Fifty-five acres, 26 gardens, over 50,000 individual plants representing over 8,000  rare and unusual plants from around the world including plants no longer found in their native habitats, make up the San Francisco Botanical Garden (formerly the Strybing Arboretum) located in Golden Gate Park. Originally laid out in the 1890s by park supervisor John McLaren, Helene Strybing’s willed funds jump-started construction in 1926. Planting began in 1937 and the arboretum opened in May 1940. The garden is officially managed by the city of San Francisco, but the S.F. Botanical Garden Society, formed in 1955 provides educational programs, manages volunteers and curatorial staff, operates a bookstore and the Helen Crocker Russell Library of Horticulture, holds monthly plant sales, and raises money for new projects and garden renovations. The Society is the non-profit support organization for the San Francisco Botanical Garden.

Baby boomers and their families can’t help but thrill at the vibrant visions, carnival of colors, scents, diversity of plant collections, educational programs and dedication to conservation which make up the gardens. It’s a feast for the senses. Stroll around the Mediterranean Climate Gardens which include California Native Plants, Redwood Trail, John Muir Nature Trail, and Mediterranean Region. Mild-Temperate Climate Gardens include the Moon-Viewing Garden (Japan) and Temperate Asia. Montane Tropic Gardens include Meso-American Cloud Forest and Southeast Asian Cloud Forest, while the Special Collections Gardens includes the Rhododendron Garden, Camellias, Magnolias, and Dwarf Conifer Pond.

The online virtual tours and podcasts bring the gardens to life. We enjoyed The Redwood Trail where Coast Redwoods were planted around the turn of the 20th century and are among the oldest trees in the garden. Designed in 1965 for the handicapped and visually impaired, The Garden of Fragrance is a plant experience through smell and touch. These gardens are stunning, educational, and include fragrant rosemary, mint, chamomile, lavender, and lemon verbena. Travel back in time 100 million years at the Ancient Plant Garden where plants in this garden are survivors providing visitors a visceral understanding of an ancient eco-system.

A visit to SF is not complete without some time spent in Golden Gate Park. Lounging about in the beautiful gardens is a great way to spend an afternoon. The people watching is a great as the explosion of color the myriad of flowers offer. We recommend that you visit this extraordinary website that celebrates and cultivates the bond between people and plants, and will instill a deeper understanding of the need to conserve our earth’s biological heritage. Plan your visit, as admission is free on the 2nd Tuesday of every month as well as Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day holidays.