While the Garden open with restrictions, we want to find ways to support each other as a Garden community and stay connected. We encourage you to share either a memory about the Garden or an example of how you’re gardening from home. The more happy memories we can share, the better, and hopefully, they can help us to remember that the Garden will be there in all its glory when we return!

To participate, share your photos along with a short description on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) with the hashtag #beyourownbotanist, #houseplanted, and tag @ucbgarden.

BYOB: Be Your Own Botanist

As we all practice social distancing, many of us are finding more time to dedicate to home gardening or tending to house plants. We’d love to see your photos and hear your stories of how you’ve been keeping up your green thumbs at home!

These are three southern African plants. The yellow flower is the genus Leonotis (now merged with Leucas) in the Mint family. In Africa it is sometimes called Lion’s Tail or Wild Dagga. It creates a nice drought-tolerant bush with gray-green leaves. The greenish-brown flower is Ferraria crispa. A bulb plant in the Iris family, it is sometimes called the Starfish Iris. Its flowers last only one day, but it will bloom now for several months. The purple flower is the genus Aristea. It is a large genus of rhizomatous plants found in both Southern Africa and Madagascar. This particular species forms a large clump of strap-shaped leaves, with flowers born on a tight, very tall raceme. While it flowers annually, it skipped last year, but made up for it this year by producing six 5’ racemes, each bearing hundreds of flowers.

-Steve, San Pablo

During these weeks of sheltering at home, I’ve been enjoying the blue and gold flowers in my native garden, the colors of California! Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bellum), sulphur buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum), and California butttercup (Ranunculus californicus) are in full bloom. All enjoy full sun and require little or no irrigation. Foothill penstemon (Penstemon heterophyllus) will be blooming soon, adding its striking blue flowers to the mix.”

-Katherine, Lafayette

A young Cooper’s Hawk came to my garden this week. It lingered in the patio, perhaps looking for prey among the grasses (Muhlenbergia rigens). It was a rare encounter.

-Katherine, Lafayette

Here is a picture of my Musa Basjoo, a bee magnet.

-Mark, Walnut Creek

Hello @ucbgarden community. My wife, two dogs and i have been spending extra time in our garden while isolating here, just down stream from you along Strawberry Creek. VERY eager to get back upstream to see the bot garden again. Thanks for the Pipevine butterflies that have been stopping in the past couple years, I’ve got four larval plants growing just in case.

-Mark Delepine

Now more than ever, I am spending as much time as I possibly can being outside and in my yard. Luna, the dog, is my partner in crime during shelter in place and loves any chance to distract my fiance and I from doing anything useful in the Garden (i.e. pulling weeds). Throwing her ball is really all that matters, right?

-Jenny, Berkeley

The poppies are really popping in the East Bay hills right now…as this shot, taken on my morning walk, shows. Brilliant swaths of yellow amsinkia, purple lupines, and many other wildflowers, are also on display!


Hello garden community! I’m currently in isolation with my family in London and am trying to stay cheerful by bringing the outside inside. I’ve just repotted this rapidly-growing monstera and painted the pot a bright lemon yellow colour to lift the spirits.

-Helena, London

As mentioned on the “Memories from Members” page, I have been growing carnivorous plants for about fifteen years. Here are a few of my favorites: various Sarracenia species and hybrids, Drosera tracyi, Nepenthes truncata x boschiana, Dionaea muscipula ‘DC-XL’, Pinguicula primuliflora ‘Rose’, Drosophyllum lusitanicum.

-James Fong, Alameda
UC Botanical Garden Horticulturist

California natives (and a New York native) are thriving in Oakland.

-Clytia, Oakland

This is the grandbaby of a passiflora vine I bought about 12 years ago at a Member’s plant sale at the UC Botanical Garden. He was 7 at the time, and still grows plants in his college apartment. When I inquired at purchase about caring for the vine, she said, “Clippers to cut it back, it’s a weed!”

It went on to cover a Japanese maple that had died of a viral infection, seen in the second photo looking like a tree covered with leaves. I was so sad when it pulled the tree down this year and died of a broken heart (torn stems).

So I reached out to a friend who’d propagated a daughter vine after having one of my passiflora fruits “they are so big and juicy” she said. So she recently gave me some grand plants and we are hoping they do well…we are plant family now!


My yard gets better each Spring. This year seems to be particularly good with these and quite a few more all in bloom. The yellow flowering bush is a New Zealand native called Corokia. It’s a small bush that has an interesting branching pattern referred to as “Divaricating”. Plants like this are very “springy”, that some scientists believe is an
adaptation to browsing pressure by (now extinct) Moas! The pendant red flowers are Kalanchoe, a very common African/Madagascar native. Next to it is an Iris relative that might be the genus Morea. The pink flowers are the bulb plant Lachenalia. It is native to South Africa. Finally, the pendant red flowers are from Agapetes serpens. It eventually makes a broad woody base that can act as a water storage organ.

-Steven, Berkeley

My little apartment garden brings me so much peace when I need a moment to escape from what is going on in the world. The small victories of a new leaf unfurling and the slow blooms of succulents helps me and my partner with patience and appreciating the small things in life. We have filled the rails of our back stairwell with a myriad of succulents and inside our house is starting to look like a jungle! In our apartment: Where there is a spot, we put a plant!

-April, San Francisco

These photos are from my little patio. The tall plant against the wood planter is a plant I picked up from the shop deck. It’s a snapdragon that somehow made its way into the Mediterranean area somehow and is deemed “Gideon’s favorite.” It’s getting ridiculously tall and I’m going to have to find a bigger pot for it soon!

-Megan, Livermore

The ratio of plants that come home with me and plants that survive under my care is nowhere near equal to one – not even close. Nevertheless, with each UC Botanical Garden Plant Sale, cutting from my mother, or abandoned plant in my apartment lobby as neighbors move, I amass more pots of soil and joy.

-Delanie, San Francisco

This is my Devil’s Ivy, Greg. Working from home, I love being surrounded by different types of greenery, this one is my favorite. He is a tough guy, needs barely any attention, but still grows. One day we discovered Greg had a new friend, Sami the Sloth. We love hanging out.

-Cari, Melbourne, Australia

Whatever her formal name is, to me she will always be Marsha. Marsha, Marsha, Marsha…in all her majestic beauty she is truly unkillable. She’s the radiant star at every party and a joy to have around. Don’t be jealous of perfection guys, she just can’t help it.

-Jessica, Richmond

We live in the Oakland hills and we don’t have a backyard, but we have a big deck! My husband and I decided to collect specific plants that we knew were cat friendly, since our two cats spend a lot of time on the deck and are known to chew on everything. We planted rosemary, tomatoes, thyme, and even catnip! Oscar and Django especially love the catnip, as you can see them enjoying in the photo!

-Emily, Oakland

We love to walk around our Thousand Oaks neighborhood here in North Berkeley and were amused by this thunbergia driveway… they aren’t going to be driving anywhere anytime soon! Looking forward to enjoying the gardens again soon.

-Howard & Jennifer, Berkeley

Shortly before the Garden closed, I spent a delightful afternoon walking through the California section and enjoying the early spring flowers. I also connect with California native plants in my Lafayette garden. This is a view from my kitchen window this week of a redbud – Cercis occidentalis – in full bloom.

-Katherine, Lafayette

Though Autumn is my favorite season, Spring is a close second, because I can’t think of anything more breathtaking than the joyous profusion of life and color in a field of blooming wildflowers. Yesterday morning, during my hike through the hills behind my house, I happened upon this patch of lovely poppies…a much needed reminder that life goes on and beauty exists, even during a pandemic when we’re sheltering in place and practicing social distancing.

-Tae, Dublin

It might look like a stick shoved into some dirt but this is a much loved rescue plant. Found abandoned on a desk at work this plant has been laying dormant since November. The tiny budding leaves started to show a few weeks ago and continue to grow.

-Helen, Australia

Babiana bulbs purchased from Botanical Garden shop 8 years ago bloom. In spectacular fashion every year at this time!


Lauren, one of our docent trainees, posing with her home Garden.

Since I have 2 black thumbs, I haven’t any nice houseplant photos to share. Until I can visit the Bot Garden again for my dose of natural beauty, I hike the hills behind my house and enjoy Mother Nature’s garden. The poppies and lupines are really beginning to put on a show, and will only become more glorious in the coming weeks! Best of all, hiking makes it so easy to maintain social distance while getting fresh air.
Hope everyone stays safe and healthy, and that we all get to see each other again, sooner than later.


I have more than 25 different Agaves (named species and cultivars) in my home garden in the Oakland hills. As a docent and propagator at UCBG and the Ruth Bancroft Garden, I’ve had plenty of temptations to collect Agaves in the 4 years since I moved from MA to CA. These three are among my favorites of the ‘artichoke’ or ‘cabbage head’ shape, and share the gorgeous bud imprints that reward intimate observation.
Agave potatorum ‘Cherry Swizzle,’ with its tightly twisted, intensely red teeth at the core of the tightly furled plant is stunning at every stage.  Agave parrasana ‘Fireball’ delights me for the same reason, the creamy yellow variation of the leaf edges and teeth that are gorgeous when backlit. Agave ‘RosaGorda’ is a plump clustering plant whose pups already want more room. I’ve built rocky, pumice-rich berms to raise all my succulents and cacti above the native clay of my soil and to ensure excellent drainage. These three are ready to move to higher ground, which is my next project in these long days gardening alone this spring.

-Susan Van Dyne

Guys look it’s a demacactus socialist

-John, @ruszeltime (from Instagram)

Stranded in Europe, but at least I have some plants. Can’t wait for this all to pass and to get back to the garden!

-Emily (currently studying abroad in the Hague)

Rhododendron keiskei and Pleione formosana.

-Don, volunteer curator

Here is a picture in my kitchen of pinguiculas.
Take care & hope you’re doing well!

– Katherine Gee

We finally planted the trees we got this past year from UCBG!

-Irene, Alameda

My cymbidiums are blooming. I received two overgrown pots of them five years ago. It took a Sawzall to separate them into 4, and, as you can see, they are blooming happily in my yard.

The orchids may not be on a par with the Garden’s exotic plants, but they are bringing me much joy in this time of no UC Botanical Garden!

-Mary, Oakland

Snaps of our home Garden!

-The Anonymous Aesthete

We miss the garden but- since we coexist with former tenants like this hybrid monkey hand tree-memories surround us.

-Peter and Kathryn, San Jose

I’m not sure on the first two but the others are a succulent, some type of fern and spider plant. They’re my buddies during the quarantine. We’re all keeping each other alive 😆

-Aubri, Portland

The daffodils are blooming and the brilliant sunlight pouring through the front window this morning was illuminating them. They were just begging to be painted!

-Karl, Lansing

Plants in my garden now. It’s a plant ID quiz!

-Jon, Piedmont

See pictures and read memories of the Garden from our member community on the Memories from Members and Redwood Grove Concert Memories page!