Saturday, October 25, 2014

UC Botanical Garden

We went to the UC Botanical Garden last week.

Left: my friends in the arid house. I think my height is almost precisely the mean of our group.
Right: Lithops, a genus of succulents.

Left: the Puya raimondii, the 'Queen of the Andes' 
Right: the SF Bay in the background. On a clearer day, we'd be able to see the Golden Gate Bridge.

Left: in the tropical house
Right: still in the tropical house

Left: in the carnivorous plants and bromeliads house
Right: the redwood grove. Redwoods should feel old hat - our apartment is surrounded by them, and they're all over campus - but even a cultivated grove is pretty spectacular.

My roommate and I went to the UC Botanical Garden last week with some friends and got to play amateur botanist for awhile. The UCBG is one of my favorite places in Berkeley, and while I've visited several times since the summer, I always learn something new with each trip. My roommate and I started the day off right by making the 50-minute trek up to the UCBG from our apartment. For those unfamiliar with UC Berkeley geography, the gardens sit up on the hills by the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab in Strawberry Canyon, so we had our fill of redwoods and oak brisk morning air.
Simply put, there is no way to see our diverse collection in one visit. I often recommend a 2-hour visit with the expectation that you will return again and again. With our 12,000 different kinds of plants, a 2-hour (120-minute) visit would require that you see 100 different kinds of plants per minute to experience our entire collection.
Dr. Paul Licht, the director of the UCBG, put it well.

I think I'm about done with strolling and looking at plants - we didn't have time to go through the self-guided tour, but next time, I'll pay more attention, and go through the garden with the aim of learning a thing or two. Field trips in elementary school had the right idea.

It was a good day. A few days later, I returned for a Bio 1B (botany, ecology, evolution) field trip where we walked around the garden listening to pairs give presentations. The areas of the garden that we covered were those that I never paid much mind to - California chaparral and alpine ecology - but I'm more motivated than ever to learn about it now. My next visit will have to be more attentive.

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