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
|Asarum caudatum (Wild ginger)
|Cistus X purpurea (Orchid rockrose)
|Ceanothus (Wild lilac)
|Left: Phlomis fructicosa (Jerusalem sage) Right: Courtesy Rudi Schmid
|Yellow plant: Sedum
|Plant in foreground: Echium (Viper)