Thursday, July 12, 2012

UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens (July 5th)

I Only Count The Sunny Hours

One of my favourite things to do in a city is visit its botanical gardens. It's a rare place of tranquility, solitude and just pure delight in all the beauty in nature without the hustle and bustle of daily life (blogging included!). I always find inspiration when visiting gardens, and this was no exception.

The gardens at UC Berkeley span over 36 acres and are divided by continents and regions, with a major focus on local California plants (I was thrilled to be able to recognize some of the plants I've "met" along my hike with Hall Newbegin). There are sections there that I've never seen in any other botanical gardens (I've only been to ones in cooler climates - Q Gardens in England, the ones in Frankfurt, and Montreal Botanical Gardens, VanDusen Gardens and UBC's botanical gardens in Canada). This place offered many unique plants from areas I never knew anything about their botanical life, such as South America and South Africa.

Visually, I particularly enjoyed the cacti and fern - plant forms I have always had soft spots for, for reasons I'm yet to find out. Perhaps it is their misunderstood lifestyle and seemingly appalling nature: cacti's prickly personality and fern's flowerless and mysterious reproductive system. Or perhaps how beautifully they are scupltured.

Scent wise, I was not at all surprised to linger longer around the Mediterranean section - where the beautiful scent of garrigue permeated the air - resinous rockrose and sage, along with funky smelling Teucrium marum (Cat Thyme), Teucrium flavium and Phlomis lantana.

TEXTURE

Pampas Grass
Nassella levitissima (South America).

Bamboo
Bamboo

Palm
Palm

CACTI
Cactus Flower

Cactus Flower

photo

Cotal-Like Cactus Pears

FERNS

Fern

Fern

Staghorn Fern

Staghorn Fern

COLOUR

Blue on Blue

Blue on blue: Blue iris in the Japanese pond in the Asia area.

Red Angel's Trumpet

Red Angel's Trumpet at the South America area.

CONCEPTS & SCENTS

photo
My favourite kind of bed
In this little patch, fragrant plants were growing: carnations, violets, lily of the valley, roses, lavender, and - a new discovery for me: Eau de Cologne Mint!
YES!
It smells exactly like Eau de Cologne. Most people are not aware of the role of mint in perfumery, and in particularly in the Eay de Cologne genre. It adds to the sensation of coolness, without necessarily reducing the temperatures of the jus itself.
I'm off to find me a plant to grow for myself. It smells like a combination of lemon and mint in the best possible ways. I can't even understand why it's not more known, and how any of us can manage without it!

photo

The Chinese Medicinal Herb Garden was just as interesting (with opium poppies growing about, and other plants that carried signs warning of their potential harm if ingested). It is very inspiring to see this aspect of plants touched upon in a botanical garden, and the educational efforts to bring forth part of this wisdom in a more accessible way.

And eventually, after some four hours of wandering, I left the garden soaked with sun and inspiration...

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