Jessica Walliser
August 9, 2012

We just returned from a wonderful vacation in California. While I really enjoyed visiting with friends in San Francisco, I most enjoyed setting my eyes on the giant sequoias for the first time in my life. It’s always nice to check something off your bucket list, and seeing the sequoias was definitely on mine.

In addition to hanging out with the tremendous trees, I reveled in a visit to some recently restored sand dunes in Monterey. Having lived in Pennsylvania my entire life, it’s a real joy to have the opportunity to spot some new-to-me plants, including many species of our North American native buckwheats and a really cool plant called Phacelia, commonly called fiddleneck for it’s uncurling, coiled flower heads.

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A visit to the San Francisco Botanic Garden in Golden Gate Park was another highlight as was a walk through the Japanese Tea Garden there. My favorite part of the botanic garden was the California-natives area. I had a nice conversation with one of the gardeners there who helped me locate a shrub called Coyote Brush that is quite common on the West Coast but non-existent here in the East. Although it wasn’t in bloom, I got a good idea of what the shrub is all about.

Yosemite Valley was its grand self— far more breathtaking than I ever imagined, especially from a bicycle. Coming home from vacation is always a difficult thing. Please enjoy some of my favorite garden pictures from our trip. Consider it a mini-vacation!

Golden Gate Park Botanical Garden - fiddleneck
Beware if you find Phacelia, aka fiddleneck, growing near your farm. This plant can be toxic to livestock if ingested and can disturb crop fields, orchards, pastures, grasslands and vineyards. Many species of fiddleneck grow in California, and they often grow to 4 feet tall.


Golden Gate Park Botanical Garden - native flowers
The California-native section of the in Golden Gate Park Botanical Garden was one of my favorites.


Golden Gate Park Botanical Garden - California Buckwheat
This is native buckwheat found at the Golden Gate Park Botanical Garden. Growing fairly low at a maximum of 3 feet, buckwheat makes a good ground cover and is an important plant for native butterflies. It typically grows on dry slopes and canyons in Southern California.


Golden Gate Park Botanical Garden - Succelent Wall
Here is the succulent wall at the Golden Gate Park Botanical Garden, one of the parks specialty collections.


Golden Gate Park Japanese Tea Garden
Here’s a view of the Temple Gate in the Golden Gate Park Japanese Tea Garden. This garden was tended by Makoto Hagiwara and his family from 1895 to 1942. It is the United States’ oldest public Japanese garden.


Golden Gate Park Japanese Tea Garden
At Golden Gate Park Japanese Tea garden is a five-story pagoda (aka Buddhist shrine) and a Zen Garden situated behind, full of bonsai trees and azaleas. Throughout the garden are statues, like this Buddha.

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