Let me start this post with an ancient picture for a change. It shows the beginning of the creation of a great park in the El Cerrito hills, located in the community of Kensington. The year is 1924, I believe, and we see an Italian style grotto already built, with nice bowed stairways surrounding it and a prolonged pool to mirror the grotto in. The view is from a newly-built mansion; standing on grotto's roof, you might have seen a cosy reflection of the building in this lengthy watery mirror.
We can forget the architectural aspects of the picture for a moment and consider the landscape above it. It shows, in an instructive manner, the East Bay hills before the building frenzy started. We are seeing a bucolic grassland, only sparcely intersected by groves of native trees, mostly oaks, where brooks are gurgling or underground aquifers provide the necessary moisture. Now compare this with the view I took ten days ago from approximately the same angle:
|Trees: Magnolia grandiflora (Southern Magnolia) Water: Nymphaea (Water lily)|
|Left: Berberis (Barberry) Right: Acanthus mollis (Bear's breech)|
|Left: Equisetum (Horsetail) Right: Foeniculum (Fennel)|
Some observant readers have already asked me, whether I had forgotten about the second garden, on the hills, mentioned in the preceding chapter. Not to worry, we will deal with that one now. I had originally intended to deal with both in one single blog post, but pictures and text simply got out of hand, so I decided to divide into two this engaging topic.
|Kniphofia uvaria (Red-hot poker)|
I was invited to visit this marvel of a park by a new-found friend, whom I got to know first by his astute comments on an earlier blog. His name is Rudi Schmid and he is Professor (retired) in Botany at UCB. The plant is not yet conceived that would escape his universal knowledge of all things green. We have to thank him for the two ancient pictures shown above, as well as for the plants' name indicated, for once, under each relevant picture. He also introduced me to the Park's valiant guardian, Lauri Twichell, who is managing the park together with her three assistants. Only four gardeners for this huge estate? Well, we should not forget the volunteers (to be counted in the tens and twenties), as well as the UCB students in botany who do their homework here.
|Rudi and Lauri, not to forget Rudi's lively companion Fleur|
|Clivia miniata between redwood trees|
|Left: Clivia miniata Right: Hedera helix (English ivy) clinging on redwood|
In the center of this quiet grove, suddenly Lauri re-appeared, this time accompanied by a group of enthusiastic children, admiring the redwoods just as I am used to do. Isn't it charming to see small kids, with their heads turned firmly upwards, paying tribute to those red Methuselahs?
After spending quite some time in the cool and calming shadows of the red giants, it was time to explore the remaining parts of the park. As we mounted towards the grove's upper fringe, a green abundance of leaves was welcoming us, pointing us towards the more open oak ranges.
|Asarum caudatum (Wild ginger)|
Many an oak was standing there, with their lower branches extending almost horizontally towards the light. As we were ambling among these trees, which generously let through ample sunlight to the shrubs and flowers underneath, I suddenly felt like back home in Sweden, where, in mid-June, the oaken ranges abound with light and flowers, just as they did here on the hills that day. Of course, the oaks with their horizontal branches and undivided leaves soon called me back to reality, as did the flowers who quite differed from our colored companions back home.
|Cistus X purpurea (Orchid rockrose)|
As you can see from the next picture, Rudi did his best to explain to me the names and properties of vegetation, trees, brushes, flowers and all that we met on our way. I was unable to retain them all whilst we were ambling through this abundance, but Rudi was so kind as to remind me of the names afterward, when he saw the pictures, so I am still able to provide you with their correct denominations.
|Ceanothus (Wild lilac)|
And now, dear readers, comes a first in the history of this copious blog! A juxtaposition of the hunter and his prey, so to speak. Thanks to Rudi you can see me photographing the very flowers that are on the picture below to the left. This was an occasion that demanded the deepest concentration from your blogger! I had to take two photos with different adjustments, to be merged later in Photoshop, to catch this complicated scenery.
|Left: Phlomis fructicosa (Jerusalem sage) Right: Courtesy Rudi Schmid|
Turning yet another corner, we passed by a small cliff, along which the two garden sisters had planted still more of the flowers that are adorning the park wherever you look!
|Yellow plant: Sedum|
I have already mentioned that the sisters also provided for a "dry" Mediterranean section with plants that thrive in those parts of the world, as well as on the "Fortunate Islands" (The Canaries). When walking along the backside of the mansion, I recognized for once several high rising flowers that I had met many times during my hikes on Gran Canaria. For instance, take a look at the plant adorning the beginning of one of my Canariablogposts and compare with the corresponding plants growing below the Blake House, in the picture below:
|Plant in foreground: Echium (Viper)|
We are approaching the end of our walk, dear readers! But let us tax your patience one moment longer, by returning to the Italian type "grotto" in front of the mansion, mounting the stairs surrounding that contraption and continuing further up the slope behind it.
A reward for your patience is awaiting you up there. Suddenly, a clearing opens up among the trees and brushes; Blake House is now completely hidden among the trees, but the most marvelous view of the Bay is spreading itself out before our astonished eyes. Far in the distance, we can glimpse the Golden Gate with its rust-red companion and below our feet lies the sea of houses that is El Cerrito. Again we can confirm that the rises above North Berkeley and El Cerrito face the Golden Gate straight on across the Bay.
By now we have spent two hours in this marvelous park and I guess you are getting exhausted by this lengthy report. But the time spent on this post was worth it, don't you think? It is not every day that you are visiting the official residence of the President of the University of California!
What a marvellous photographer you are! I was totally enchanted by the lovely pictures and the explaining text. Thanks a lot for showing all this beauty to us!
This is another beautiful post Emil. You have a marvelous eye for photographic composition. Your text material is friendly and informative. It makes one want to visit the Blake Garden without delay.
Thanks so much.
Hallo Emil. I envy You when reading your blogg and see all this beautyful plant photos. You had as I could see a botanic guide. I assume You do not know all this plants. One is not Berberis, it is Mahonia, but never mind they are related
Yours Werner in Sweden
auch ich will dir danken für alle die wunderbaren Augenblicke, die du uns mit deinen Fotos wie auch durch deine Komentare schenkst.
Irgendwann nach der Arbeit, meist zur späten Nachtstunde entrücken wir Dank dir nach Korelia oder Kalifornien, wo wir noch niemals waren und können ein Bißchen von deiner Betrachtung und Reflexion für uns gewinnen!
Inspired by your latest botanical blog we have purchased a magnolia and shall plant it in our garden today. With luck, the tree grows in Southern Sweden, although the one we planted a couple of years ago did not survive an exceptionally severe winter. I have fond memories of this magnificent tree from a small school in New jersey. If I apply the same determination and optimism as characterises your travelogues from California I am certain that the tree will take root and flourish even in this chilly Nordic soil.
Danke für Deine schönen Berichte und die phantastischen Bilder. Sind diese immer noch mit der NIKON D 60 gemacht? Ich habe die gleiche; aber meine Bilder sind nicht so schön.
Du hast ja wirklich 1000 Talente.
Viele Grüße aus Italien,
Die alten Bilder dieses Blogs (Kapitel 1-34) sind mit Nikon D90 gemacht. Kapitel 37-38 mit der billigsten Nikon Coolpix Kamera die es zu kaufen gibt (99 Dollar). Die folgenden Kapitel sind mit Canon G1X gemacht.
Was ich damit sagen will ist, dass es eigentlich egal ist, mit welcher Digitalkamera man fotografiert, solange man sich auf Internetpublizierung beschränkt. Was den Ausschlag gibt ist die Bildbearbeitung nach der Fotografierung. Jedes Bild dauert diesbezüglich 2-3 Stunden. Hin und wieder ist es schon passiert, dass ein ganzer Tag draufging.
Man nimmt die Rohdaten in 16 Bit Bildtiefe aus der Kamera (d h ignoriert total die JPEG-Bearbeitung der Kamera) und entwickelt die Rohdaten mit Adobe Camera Raw im Farbenraum Adobe RGB.
Meistens sind die Bildkontraste zu hoch, um in einer Entwicklungsphase bewältigte werden zu können. In diesem Falle entwickelt man die Daten zwei- bis dreimal und mischt das Resultat zu einem Bild zusammen.
Darnach folgt noch eine Spezialintensivierung der mittleren Kontraste und, schlussendlich, wenn das Bild auf Internetgrösse reduziert ist, appliziert man noch eine auf die Bildgrösse angepasste Schürfung der Bilddaten.
Erst darnach geschieht die Konvertierung des Bildes in den Farbenraum sRGB mit 8 Bits Bildtiefe und Komprimierung mit JPEG (das heisst was schon aus der Kamera kommt, wenn man als Amatör die Bearbeitung der Kamerafirma akzeptiert).
Mit vielen Grüssen aus (noch) Kalifornien
A note on names in response to Werner Stastny: Mahonia is now usually submerged in Berberis (barberry), a large genus with over 600 species. The first edition of "The Jepson manual" (1993), the flora for California, recognized 6 species of Berberis growing in the state, whereas the second edition (2012) recognizes 10 species of Berberis, in both cases Berberis including Mahonia. -- Rudi Schmid
Wunderschöne Bilder; man könnte träumen und glaubt fast dort zu sein dank Deiner Beschreibungen, bei denen es auch stets viel zu lernen gibt.
Herzlichen Dank dafür!
Hi Emil, I happened across your post whilst looking for images of mature Magnolia grandiflora. It just so happens that I have designed a linear, canal-like pool for a residence in Kerry, Ireland and am thinking of planting Magnolia alonngside the pool. They are tree-like in your pic - fantastic. I hope that mine will look this cool in the future. Nice post btw.
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