While the Garden is currently closed, 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!
Memories from Members
Photos and memories in the Garden from our Members: a fond time, a favorite plant or collection, or a fun anecdote!
One magical day, I ambled slowly up the hill to the Garden of Old Roses. I was alone in the garden–well, not really alone–but there weren’t other people there that day. I was in good company, though–squirrels, robins, beetles, and bees–the actual residents of the garden–were out in full force. Honored to be in their presence, I trundled quietly up the path, feet grounded on soil and rock, breathing in the heady fragrance of hundreds of roses, pink and red, peach and white, in glorious bloom. That day, I had plenty of time. I paused for a long moment, grateful to watch a fuzzy golden bee hovering atop purple statice, busily gathering pollen.
I was perusing the “Memories from Members” section of the recent UCBG newsletter and decided to submit a specimen growing in my garden right now: It’s a Fuchsia boliviana and I used to admire it where it was displayed in a large pot at the entrance to the Tropical House (maybe it’s still there??) It bloomed all summer long, and became one of my favorites. I was delighted to purchase a seedling of it at the fall plant sale – at least 20 years ago! I planted it in a shady spot (got some afternoon sun), but it never took off. I’d get a few shoots, and then nothing. So I moved it to a less visible spot. (Punishment!) Well, I must have left some part of it behind, because this winter it reappeared. And it grew and grew, and blossomed wantonly! I’m hoping that next year it will put out more foliage. But for now, I’m loving it.
Just below it is the Smilacina – that grew – and probably still grows – around the large oak tree in Oak Knoll. One of the propagators promised to sell me some bulbs when the time was right. And here they are! (In fact, if anyone would like a few, they are spreading)
Best wishes to All – Hope you can open soon!
Here’s one for your garden memories book — a picture of my now-11-year-old daughter taken on Feb 28, 2010! We used to love searching for newts in the pond. And can’t wait to come back!
While walking in the Mexican area in 2015, my late wife and I were astonished to see the flowers of the Monkey Hand Tree for the first time. And I loved how two “hands” had arrayed themselves on the tree’s informational sign.
Here are a few photos I took on my lunch walk about a week before the Garden closed. The hummingbird is on an Aloe in the Southern Africa section and a Banksia right by one of the paths. I hope everyone is healthy and that the plants will carry us all through.
-Vanda, Volunteer Propagation Coordinator
We love the garden, and bring visitors from around the world to show them this botanical treasure. Here you see our friend Rudo from South Africa, who loves the garden so much that I took her some garden schwag on our last visit to see her– a big hit!! and our exchange student from Austria was entranced as well– especially by the cactus collection, which she couldn’t resist touching to see how sharp they really were! We miss visiting, and are so thankful for the staff who are continuing to maintain it.
This one of the best views of the garden and it is not of the bay. The Oak Knolls is a great spot to observe the collection and the surrounding hills, especially during fall when the Asia and Eastern North American areas are displaying their fall color!
Horticulturist | California
Some shots of the Garden.
It’s fair to say that my 5 year old son was practically born in the Garden and has grown up there, visiting on all number of occasions, sometimes out of child care necessity, but primarily because the Garden is our favorite place on Earth. Yesterday my son’s love of plants and deep connection to the Garden emerged in a beautiful way when he chose to draw and write Gunnera for the letter G in the ABC book that he’s working on for his preschool. He had chosen apple for A, and donut for D, so I wasn’t expecting any Latin names for G. Never been prouder!
I love being able to share the Garden with my family and watching my kids grow up there. I am missing the Garden now more than ever, but knowing what a lasting impression it has made on my son whether we’re in the Garden or not simply warms my heart and gives me great confidence in it’s critical role for our future.
-Deepa Natarajan, Program Coordinator
Fifteen years ago I got my first carnivorous plant for Christmas. It was a North American Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia). I received it from my uncle who bought it from the UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley. If you look really close you can even see a piece of the UCBG logo on the plant label. Little did I know, this plant was about to change my entire path in life. I had already heard of the famous Venus Flytrap, but this pitcher plant opened the door to the rest of the carnivorous plant world. I spent hours upon hours researching these fascinating plants, and eventually amassed a collection of carnivorous plants that filled my family’s home. Over the next few years, you could find these plants growing in every corner of the house, under lighted loft beds, and even on top of the family spa. After studying plant biology and entomology at UC Davis, I was excited to find myself back at the UC Botanical Garden. But this time I was here for a different reason: to join the team of astounding horticulturists who maintain the Garden’s diverse and unique collection of plants. I look forward to seeing everyone back at the garden!
-James Fong, Horticulturist
Today I noticed the hummingbird eggs in the Nursery must’ve hatched right around the time all this craziness began. They are now visible in the nest & I’ve attached a photo. It’s not plants, but I just thought I would put it out there since we have so many birders amongst the Garden community. I saw a skink today too, but my quick-draw phone skills aren’t quick enough!
-Susan, Horticulturist & Propagator
The first time I went to the garden was with my horticultural class in the early 1980s. We were all so smitten that we joined the garden on the spot. Over the years I have brought back many memories from the garden, both tangible and intangible.
During these gray and rainy days in March as we shelter-in-place, bright spots emerge in my yard as some shrubs and other plants begin to flower. Here are a few of the many plants from the Berkeley Botanical Garden that are flowering now.
-Marion, Pacific Grove
A quick sketch made last October in the California section, during an afternoon walk.
Last Easter, on one of our first trips to the Garden after moving to Berkeley, we happened to visit on what I’m convinced was this gorgeous rhododendron’s best day of bloom. We became Garden members on our way out! I’m sad to miss the bloom this year but glad to know it’ll be right there blooming anyway.
Last May I was doing an illustration class and spent an enjoyable afternoon in the garden – in the company of a lizard who made it into the final illustration – sketching plants in the South African section. Hopefully I’ll be back sketching there before too long!
While sheltering in place and missing the Garden, I decided to spend some time working on an illustration featuring plants and friends from the Garden. The plants in the drawing are inspired by photos I had from the Tropical House. We call our dance crew “Dance Your Plants Off”, and we are always accepting new members.
-Clare, Assistant Curator
Highlights from April 2019, my first month at the garden!
-Sophia Warsh, Horticulturist
Last Father’s day, we spent the day at the Garden getting up close and personal with both bugs and plants. It was a lovely learning experience and the leaf bugs were particularly interesting to Scott and Bodhi. Thanks Garden for always keeping it cool for plant enthusiasts of all ages!
I loved visiting the Botanical Gardens recently with my oldest brother and his wife. They were escaping a cold winter back east, and we enjoyed the sunshine, bird songs, glorious colors and aromas and the stunning views of the beautiful bay.
Our first time to the Botanical Garden was for our engagement shoot in December of 2016. Absolutely beautiful place! The redwood grove is stunning!
I have been shooting the garden now for over 12 years. I first started when the smoke from fires was so bad where I lived that I needed a place to breathe for a day. I have won many awards with pictures from Berkeley Botanical Gardens.
I have now shot botanical gardens throughout the Caribbean and Hawaii.
These are series of photographs I took at the gardens for a school assignment in photography on “lines” as an element of art and design. I chose to shoot organic/botanical subjects and the garden provided endless examples.
I love visiting the garden because I don’t have a garden of my own! The garden is a sanctuary for me to be quiet, to listen and to SEE the beauty unfolding from one season to the next. Thank you for providing this service to our community. I’m also a photographer and visit often to dive deep into what’s blossoming. Here are a few of my favorite images from just a week ago!
These are my favorites, Trudy (Amorphophalus titanium), Puya raimondii and Tacca integrifolia. Hope to see you all very soon.
-Paula, Walnut Creek
We got married in the Garden last June! It meant so much to us to declare our love for each other beneath the towering trees of the Redwood Grove, and we partied the night away surrounded by family, friends, and tropical plants in the Mirov Conference Center. It was a truly magical day we’ll never forget, thank you for providing such a wonderful place to celebrate!
-Allison and Victor
Ethnobotany and plant based dyes.
I found this tasty-looking flower stalk in South America at the end of January.
December 28: It was a beautiful day, three days after Christmas.
A page from my sketchbook of days in Plague-land. All blooming in the garden now…
I’m a third-year PhD student at Cal. The garden feels more like home to me than the campus does. While the campus represents successes (and failures) in my academic career, the garden embodies a fuller range of my emotional life: walking through the dawn redwood grove while nursing a broken heart; strolling through the herb garden on a third date with who is now the love of my life; reading Bashou’s haikus by Strawberry Creek; cross-stitching in the cloud forest while trying to rebound from a difficult semester; sitting at a secret bench with my best friend to show her the best view of the Golden Gate Bridge (it’s not the Garden of Old Roses!); buying a rare orchid to help mend my relationship with my mom.
The garden means the world to me. It has been a friend and comfort in some of the most difficult times of my life. There are so many tears and secrets that the plants there know about me. So many joys and hopes that I’ve whispered to bushes and trees. There is nothing quite like it in this world. I am heartbroken that I can’t visit it during these uncertain times but am so happy that we can stay connected this way.
I was privileged to be at the Garden of Mouthings art installation opening party on Sept. 15, 2011. On the way up the hill I took this picture, and was inspired to write this poem. The Garden has been inspiration for so many for so long. Thank you!!
Dedicated to a Lotus Flower
I met her the day before she let her first petal go.
Silently, I asked her
how she could still hold so much sun
knowing, as she must have,
that her flowering season was at its close.
Her answer was simple.
“That’s why I”m here,” she said,
“to gather the light, first s a bud,
then as a bloom, and throughout –
-Mary Martin DeShaw
One day while a group of us were eating lunch in the Redwood Grove, three young chickens walked out of the redwoods and entered the amphitheater. This situation was already odd given that there are no homes or farms nearby. They then proceeded to hop onto my lap and share my lunch. Eventually, we scooped up the birds and a staff member took them home. The Garden is a great place to see some amazing (and some not so amazing) flora and fauna. To read more about what animals call the Garden their home, click here to read my blog post.
-Jason Bonham, Horticulturist
In 2018, I spent a day in the garden with three friends whom I met in 1963 when we were freshmen in high school and one friend whom I had known since first grade. Fifty plus years later, we enjoyed a wonderful day exploring the garden together, discovering that the amazing blue sapphire puyas were in bloom, and witnessing a squirrel busily mining food from the plant. I have visited the garden regularly since 1973 and learn something new every time I go, but introducing my old pals to the wonders of this remarkable garden was a special treat for me.
And here’s a bittersweet memory. This was one of my favorite specimens, shown here in bloom with its ID tag (sorry, not a great photo). I first found this specimen by following its fragrance. The entire gully smelled strongly of Nag Champa incense as I descended into it, it seemed, but it was really just this one Ceanothus. I’ve never encountered another like it. Sadly, it died after our drought gave way to especially heavy rains. I miss it so much.
I took this photo of a Manzanita tree at the Oak Knoll in the UC Botanical Garden on a magical rainy morning in December 2019, the day of the Volunteer Appreciation Lunch. I remember feeling so much gratitude and love for this land and the people who gather together on it. Before the shelter-in-place order, I had been returning to the garden at least once a month for over a year to teach our Integral Taiji & Qigong classes. The garden has become a place of solace and refuge for me. Each time I’m there, I learn more and sink deeper into peace. The garden has become a good friend, and the community that it brings together is so nourishing. I can’t wait to return!
See pictures of home gardens and houseplants from our Garden community on the Be Your Own Botanist page!