A Visit To San Francisco Botanical Garden

Last Thursday (on Thanksgiving day), Nate and I took a trip to the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Our plans for Thanksgiving were: 1) Make a pumpkin pie 2) Make cranberry sauce 3) Make roasted butternut squash with caramelized onions and chestnuts, 4) Eat Thanksgiving dinner, and 5) Be thankful. We made the pumpkin pie the night before and the cranberry sauce the morning of, and it wouldn’t take all day to make the squash dish. The weather was beautiful (as always), so we packed a lunch and drove into the city.

Thanksgiving day is one of the SF Botanical Garden’s “free days.” There were plenty of other people who had the same idea as us, but it was still sparsely populated enough to allow for physical distancing.

I had high expectations, but I have to admit, I was slightly disappointed. It wasn’t bad, I just thought it lacked a certain specialness that I expect from a Botanical Garden. It felt like walking around in a park in California.

The park was arranged in regions that focused on plants of a particular area of the world (e.g. South Africa, Mediterranean, Chile). It’s a nice concept, but in practice… except for the redwood forest, the regions seemed to blend together. Plenty drought-tolerant, mild climate plants. There was no greenhouse… No rare/exotic specimen garden… Many plants were labeled, but not all. There was a duck pond – meh. The views were so-so. The landscaping was nothing special – just curved paths with plants along them plants. It was perfectly pleasant, but I wouldn’t put it on your bucket list. The Bloedel Reserve was definitely more worthwhile than the SF Botanical Garden.

Redwood grove

Perhaps the highlight for me was probably these “Active Coyote Alert” signs.

The possibility of seeing a coyote in the middle of San Francisco was exciting. Unfortunately (or fortunately), we did not see any coyotes.

I suppose I might not be giving it a fair shot. It’s possible that this isn’t the prime season for the SF Botanical Garden, and maybe I’ll need to visit again in the spring or summer. A walk through the botanical garden is a perfectly nice way to spend Thanksgiving day nonetheless. When we returned home that day, we made the squash dish and ate a delicious Thanksgiving dinner. And we were thankful the entire day.

The Elizabeth F. Gamble Garden

About 10 minutes from my house is a public garden called the Elizabeth F. Gamble Garden. It’s free and open to the public even now during COVID (so long as you wear a mask and observe physical distancing).

It’s a very neatly arranged garden, part flower garden, and part vegetable garden.

Here are some photos of the flower part of the garden in mid-July:

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