The Botanical Gardens

I spent this past Saturday afternoon at the Botanical Gardens. The Botanical Gardens are part of Golden Gate Park (9th Avenue at Lincoln Way http://www.sfbotanicalgarden.org), and the perfect place to visit on a sunny day. It’s a 55-acre garden with over 50,00 different species of plant, and it’s FREE for California residents. (It costs $7 for non-residents, but if you come to visit I’ll split it with you).

When I was growing up, my parents were very good at finding places to go that were free, kid-friendly, and entertaining enough to occupy an entire afternoon. The Botanical Gardens is one of those places. But you don’t have to be a kid to enjoy it! There were so many things to see that I could have spent 4-5 hours wandering around.

The most popular attraction was the Garden of Fragrance. I really enjoyed smelling all the plants and guessing the fragrances. Thyme! Honeysuckle! Mint! And there was even a plant that smelled like maple syrup. But I also really enjoyed watching the other people smelling and guessing (and arguing about the plants).

this bee likes fragrant plants too!

There was a section on the map labeled The Succulent Garden. It turns out it is not a garden with turkey legs growing on trees, as I originally thought. It’s an entire garden of cactus and aloe plants that all belong to the same Family: Succulents. The succulent plants are known for their ability to retain water.

I’ve seen this plant (below) several times since I moved to California, but I never knew what it was. It’s called an Aeonium, from the Greek for immortal.

Aeonium domesticus

At the Botanical Gardens, there was a garden of plants from Asia, and Australia, a grove of Redwood Trees, Camellias, chile peppers, and my personal favorite, carnivorous plants!! This photo (below) shows a Pitcher: a plant that traps rainwater in its “pitcher” and secretes acid into the water to make it toxic. When a fly lands in the pitcher, the acidic water digests the fly and feeds the plant. Cool, huh?

"Darlingtonia californica", the California Pitcher Plant

I don't remember the scientific name for this Camellia.

So, next time you need something to do on a sunny day, think about visiting the Botanical Gardens. Oh and I forgot to mention that it costs $3/hr to park. I suggest you ride the bus or walk because the garden will not be enjoyable if you’re constantly worried about the time/price.

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