Friday, May 13, 2016

Other people's gardens

A specimen of Genus Echeveria. Very fitting considering how much time I spent in Etcheverry Hall during college.

During the last two weeks, I found myself with an absurd amount of time on my hands. All my projects had been submitted, I was sufficiently secure in both my classes with final exams, and I had no urgent tasks. I used this newfound time to go to the gym, read for leisure, and take long walks in the hills north of campus, making sure to stop and admire the flowers.

Berkeley is a town of contrasts. In the north, houses are large and with personality. Architecture is clever, hills are steep, and gardens are lavish and just a bit wild. The North Berkeley hills, edging into Tilden Park and the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, are easy to get lost and get tired in. Fortunately, this is my neighborhood, and I am acquainted with it.

I am a frequent recommender and visitor of the UC Botanical Gardens, which is uphill from the southeast end of campus, but sometimes, that's a hassle to get to, with very uniform views on the hike up. The northside hills are an easy getaway from the College of Engineering, and beautiful gardens and interesting houses, tucked-away side streets and terraces are quick to encounter. 

It may be easy to tell that these photos come from different hikes: different weather, different times of day. I'm collecting "specimens" for if I ever want to paint botanical still life in the future.

Though I don't think I'll have the space for a garden in my near future, all this wandering and stopping to admire other people's gardens has inspired me. What I don't think I can communicate through these photos, but seems very clear to me just walking through the neighborhood, is that North Berkeley's gardens give it an air of mystery and magic. Given the terrain, plain lawns are uncommon. Flowers are more elegant and ornate, with strange colors. Irises, daffodils, roses, and succulents are heavily featured.

These lovely ones are downhill on the northwest end of Berkeley.  I messed around on VSCO because I am challenged by lighting, but I tried to represent the color as accurately as I saw them.

Carpets of succulents from two ends of northside. The one on the right comes from the same garden as the Echeveria featured above.

This stretch of sidewalk is actually a deliberate garden. Many of the plants are labeled, and there are notices about his landlord forbidding him from keeping this exotic garden. He is the owner of the succulent garden on the left in the preceding picture.

There is a public rose garden on northside as well, where rarer, more elegant cultivars are grown and shown. Among them are the yellow and white bicolor roses on the right, and a pink and yellow variety not shown here.

Houses near the rose garden often have their own roses as well. Rose Street nearby has a terraced, staircase path lined with roses. Lots of roses, roses everywhere, etc.

Yet more roses, the ones on the left close to my apartment, the ones on the right from the Berkeley Rose Garden.

And lastly, one of my favorite gardens in Berkeley, located a stone's throw away from the original Peet's Coffee & Tea. I make it a point to encounter this extraterrestrial and its spacecraft (with a "BERKELEY OR BUST" bumper sticker) when I walk to the supermarket. This is one of the many oddities about this strange town that I will miss.


  1. You have a good eye for botanical photography! A lot of the time, flower photos end up looking kind of cliche (mine always do) but I enjoyed looking through this post.

    1. Thank you! I am very fond of plants and am lucky to live around so many interesting ones.

  2. I love the photo of the stretch of sidewalk! When I go on walks with my family (which isn't very often, especially now that I'm away for college), my parents are always looking at the gardens of the houses we pass by, and if they take a special liking to one, they'll walk right up to it to get a closer look, and I'll just be on the sidelines like, "omg you can't do that! That's people's private property! What if they come to their window and see us staring??" and my parents just nonchalantly say that then they'd get a chance to ask the owners what kind of plants they have :P -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's