San Francisco Botanical Gardens 

9,000 different plants from all over the world at San Francisco Botanical Gardens take you on a journey across the globe. You can’t just look in one direction ahead! Looking up magnolias, redwoods, looking down camellias, herbs, moss. Each twist and turn of the paths takes you almost if there’s no one around a secret garden on the other side of the world. Or down the road in the California garden!

We had enough of the city, wanting some fresh air when we visited San Francisco earlier this year. The botanical gardens and Japanese Tea Garden were a few places on our list of places to go thinking they’re in the same garden. The Japanese Tea Garden is in the same park, Golden Gate Park but not in the same garden if that makes sense. Golden Gate Park while it looks close to the centre or downtown San Francisco isn’t. For some reason looking at the map of San Fransisco bay area I thought it was like a European town with everything more of less in walking or a metro distance. Err, no! You need a car to get around, unless you want to do multiple buses, taxis or Uber. A car worked out cheaper than Uber. We stayed just outside San Francisco in Belmont, Redwood Shores and I think the garden was a 40 minute drive away. We’d thought we’d have enough time to do both however the botanical gardens were bigger than we’d expected. By the time we’d left (after a who’s right which way back to the entrance! I think we both compromised and worked it out) it was 16.30 winter closing hours.

Bamboo gardenDSCF0072Puffer fish!

We could have easily have spent more time in the gardens. It’s split into Californian indigenous plants within their own geographic location and into South America, Asia Africa and Europe. The Mediterranean Garden features native Californian plants along side plants from South-western Australia, Chile and South Africa all grouped within their own geographical location. The Mild Temperate Climate features plants from Eastern Australia, New Zealand and a Japanese Moon Viewing garden! The Montane Tropic has Mesoamerican and South Asian cloud forests. Specialty Collections include primitive plants, succulents, a fragrance garden, magnolias, camellias, Dwarf Conifers. The afternoon started sunny however as the day went on it became more overcast dewy hazy cold humid as the afternoon progressed.


Japanese Moon Garden

Located around the gardens are various magnolia trees. We got lucky with a few in bloom!

I was captivated by the camellias. I’ve been using a few facial oils containing camilla oil and it was amazing to see them in real life. Dark leaves with beautiful pops bright pinks and reds flowers. I always think flowers only bloom spring and summer. Camellias are winter flowering and I can see how popular they are in Japanese and Korean culture. Not only for the flower’s oil, for their beauty on a cold dark winter’s day.

Out the corner of my eye I saw something swoop down, a Dad quickly grab his kid with everybody that saw kinda looking in disbelief, in awe or regular occurrence. Me with a stupid grin on my face! An eagle! It flew away settling on a tree close by surveying or in what do I now?! I don’t think it was going for the kid. I think it was a young eagle not sure where it was. I didn’t get the greatest photo as I only had my short lens. I left feeling honoured to have seen close up a amazing, magnificent bird.

Trees were the winter stars as few winter flowers were out. I got a little photo happy. I could have spilt up the photos in 2 posts but hey, it’s me!

Monkey puzzle tree

I was intrigued by rhopalostylis sapid from New Zealand. Half tree like, half palm tree with a grass skirt of seed pods.

The gardens are free to all San Fransisco residents and garden members. $12 for non residents. We visited the last weekend in January and it was already busy. Free parking is roadside first come first served chancing your luck with paid parking available. Best time to go is early morning unless you want the sunset golden hour. It’s a popular place for portraits (lots so pregnant ladies showing of their bumps for Instagram) etc so be prepared to wait your turn if you want a particular shot. I can only imagine what it’s like in the summer when the gardens are in full bloom. A slice of tropical escape in the city if you time it right.

Guard tree at the entrance/exit 


  1. says:

    This garden looks very peaceful! At least in the pictures, hehe.

    There are actually a lot of flowers in Suzhou during winter! In our residential complex’s garden there are lots of small trees that bloom in the winter, they might be cherry or almond trees, and one is an apricot tree (that one is easy as it gives apricots in the summer haha). Another one I think is a pear tree. Lots of magnolia trees too, love them. And wintersweet! Winter definitely doesn’t lack colour here.

    1. says:

      It was peaceful away from the loud talkers!

      Most of the flowers that were flowering I think were Asian so that’s why! Here I’ve only seen geraniums. At the zoo back when it was open, birds of paradise and hibiscuses were flowering. I think that however was due to a warm winter. My aloe vera’s I’m sure have started flowering too early. Just before the lockdown I was lucky to see some cherry blossom and jasmine. When restrictions are lifted, they’ll be long gone!

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