Visits to public and private gardens can be inspiring and informative, so when a reader asked for suggestions for garden visits in northern California, I was pleased to respond.
If you plan to travel within the Golden State this summer, consider including one or more of the following gardens on your itinerary. Information on these gardens, including travel directions, is available on the Garden Visits website.
San Francisco/Oakland Area
- Berkeley Rose Garden, Berkeley: Just roses; nicely maintained; amphitheater
- Blake Garden, Kensington: An estate garden now operated as a public garden and laboratory for UC Berkeley’s landscape architecture program
- Golden Gate Park, San Francisco: Large popular public park, with several theme gardens
- Kaiser Rooftop Garden, Oakland: Early example of roof garden; great views
- Morcom Rose Garden, Oakland: Just roses; nicely maintained; amphitheater
- Oakland Museum of California and Gardens, Oakland: Large roof garden at “The Museum of California” (but the garden includes non-native plants)
- San Francisco Botanic Garden at Strybing Arboretum (San Francisco): 24 theme gardens; very popular; within Golden Gate Park
- UC Berkeley Botanical Garden (Berkeley): Extensive and varied; worth an all-day visit
- Tilden Regional Park, Regional Parks Botanic Garden (Berkeley): a large public park with mostly California native plants.
Farther North in California
- Cornerstone Festival of Gardens (Sonoma): Experimental garden designs and garden art; “a series of walk-through installations showcasing new and innovative designs from the world’s finest landscape architects and designers”
- Ferrari-Carano Gardens (Healdsburg): Winery estate garden, known for tulips and daffodils in spring
- Forrest Deaner Native Plant Botanic Garden (Benecia): Significant collection of California native plants
- Green Gulch Garden (Sausalito): Series of English garden rooms
- Luther Burbank Home and Gardens, (Santa Rosa): Small home and working garden, maintained like a public park by the City of Santa Rosa
- Marin Art and Garden Center (Ross): Community center with some gardens
- Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens (Fort Bragg): It is unusual to have a public garden on the coast; great views; significant collection
- Ruth Bancroft Garden (Walnut Creek): Significant three-acre collection of succulents; originally a private garden that inspired creation of the non-profit Garden Conservancy
- The Wave Garden (Point Richmond): Interesting hardscape and sculptures; drought-tolerant plants
- UC Davis Arboretum Garden (Davis): Specializes in Mediterranean climate plants appropriate for central California
If you will travel in June or July, consider the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days program of exceptional private gardens in northern California (<www.gardenconservancy.org> click on “Open Days/Schedule”):
- June 8: Mendocino County
- July 20: Contra Costa County
- July 21: San Francisco East Bay
As always, enjoy your own garden and share it with friends and neighbors, but explore your choices of these public and private gardens for new ideas!