I just spent a beautiful vacation week in Northern California, our former home of 6 years. During those years, diapers and baby bottles featured more prominently than flower beds and vegetable gardens, though I did manage to always have some lantana growing in a barrel in our courtyard–it looked just like this (I took many photos of lantana while on my trip for old time’s sake–I can’t grow it in Maryland):
I didn’t have much time for gardening in those days (I recall I foolishly signed up for a community garden plot while pregnant, spent days/weeks getting all the weeds out with two toddlers playing alongside me in the dirt, planted some vegetables, then had to hand the plot over to a neighbor when the baby came). The lantanas, which require no attention, were all I could manage.
But once the kids got bigger, my thumb got a bit greener–helped along by the lovely friends and neighbors who were so generous with advice during our time in Australia, which is a land of avid gardeners. Armed with a perspective I did not have when we lived in Berkeley, I spent this visit looking at things with a new eye, admiring all the plants in bloom and taking full advantage of the wealth of botanic offerings on hand. In Berkeley alone there is the University of California Botanical Garden, the Botanic Garden at Tilden Park, and the Rose Garden. I made a pilgrimage to all those places, but found that there were beautiful things everywhere (yes, I did include a few non-botanical items….). Here are some highlights from Berkeley proper (to be followed later by highlights from the various gardens in Berkeley, plus Sonoma Valley and Stanford/Palo Alto) :