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Friday Slide Show: The Botanical Garden Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

5 June 2015

Botanical gardens are living museums, zoos of the plant world, libraries that grow new volumes day after day. They date back to the garden of the University of Pisa created by Luca Ghini in 1543 for the academic study of medicinal plants.

San Francisco Botanical Garden. Celebrating 75 years.

Today there are 1,775 botanical gardens and arboreta in 148 countries around the world. The conservation movement has restored their role as scientific institutions but they don't need an excuse to remain among the most marvelous places to take a walk.

We visited the San Francisco Botanical Garden last Sunday, which was 75th Anniversary Community Day. Free admission was just the first perk.

The Great Meadow grabbed our attention right away. A stage had been set up and various performers were dancing and singing, sometimes coming out into the crowd to join hands in a big circle and dance together.

Stilt figures enchanted the children on the grass beyond the stage. And there was a photo "booth" where you could hold a gigantic red flower and have your portrait taken.

But the main attractions were rooted in the ground.


It's beyond us to label each species in the slide show but we can tell you that we wandered from the Great Meadow to the Redwood Grove and up the hill to the Succulent Garden and Southeast Asian Cloud Forest before resting a bit in the shaded Moon Viewing Garden.

It was just a few steps to the Camellia Garden and a few more to the Waterfowl Pond where a grey heron was hosting some visiting Canada geese.

We made our way through the Rhododendron Garden to the Mediterranean Garden and on to the Garden of Fragrance before circling the Great Meadow once more on our way out.

And still we didn't see it all. But we did manage to find the gardener's shed.


We took 133 images on our walk through the Garden under cloudy skies that provided a nicely diffused light. Our first cut narrowed the candidates for today's slide show down to 43. A second pass cut it to 22. Still too many. But you get them all anyway.

We used a light Micro Four Thirds camera with the 14-42mm kit lens and no filter as we strolled along, shooting in Raw only. The camera's native Raw format was converted into DNG Raw when we copied the images to our hard drive and then imported into Lightroom CC.

The Raw files gave us enough data to bring out shadow detail and recover highlight detail. Flora tend to really stretch a camera's capabilities. We usually shot in Aperture priority mode but one particularly difficult subject required Manual.

Auto focus was also a problem. We often couldn't rely on the camera to pick the subject. So we gave it a little help.

None of that diminished the fun of framing our shots or, later, using the Develop module to bring out their best side.


The San Franciso Botanical Garden is just off Ninth Ave. in Golden Gate Park. It opens daily at 7:30 a.m. and closes an hour after the last entry, which ranges from 4 to 6 p.m. depending on the season.

Admission is free from 7:30 to 9 a.m. and on the second Tuesday of the month, as well as major holidays. Otherwise a family ticket is $15, adults $7, seniors and adolescents $5 and children over 5 are $2. San Francisco resident also enjoy free admission.

The Garden is wheelchair accessible but a few things are verboten, including pets, feeding the wildlife, smoking and picking flowers.

The Garden's Web site has a printable map showing how its 55 acres are laid out and where you can find any of its 50,000 plants from around the world.

Printable Map. Download the map and take it with you.

A quarter million people visit the Garden each year, including 10,000 school children. There is, consequently, a lot of educational resources tucked away in the Garden from the plant labels to the library, bookstore and plant arbor where you can buy a favorite species.

It's always been a wonderful place, even a haven, for us. Not to be missed whether you know a camellia from a rhododendron or not.

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