On a recent summer day, the mist of a thick bank of fog caressed the faces of visitors at the San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum in Golden Gate Park. On pathways winding through the 55 acres of this living museum, nature enthusiasts explored landscaped gardens and open spaces, lush with more than 8,000 species of plants, from the familiar to the exotic.
All photographs by Stephanie Wright Hession. Copyright 2013.
1. Garden Bookstore
Just inside the Main Gate, you'll find this petite bookstore. Out front, nose through packets of nasturtium, morning glory and other seeds, along with pots of native California plants. Then browse a collection of garden books, field guides and posters, including one with images of matilija poppies and titled "Attack of the 8-Foot Shrub!"
2. Helen Crocker Russell Library of Horticulture
Both newbie gardeners and seasoned horticulturists will relish this library, with its extensive collection devoted to all things flora. The children's section houses 1,600 books and offers a free Story Time and Family Walk at 10:30 a.m. on the first and third Sunday of every month.
3. Garden of Fragrance
In this sensory garden, a woman reaches over a low, stone flower bed, pinches off a leaf of pineapple sage, holds it up to her nose, closes her eyes and breathes in. Others rub French lavender or rosemary leaves between their fingers to release aromatic oils or smell the fragrant leaves of rose-scented geraniums.
4. Garden flowers
A favorite garden activity is spying the multitude of flowers, from soft, pastel varieties to those fantastical and brilliantly hued, while wandering through the Australia, Zellerbach Garden of Perennials, Moon-Viewing Garden, California Native Plants and other gardens here. It's also a way to garner some ideas for your own patch of dirt at home.
5. Ancient Plant Garden
Brushing past the massive leaves of Chilean gunnera offers a glimpse of how land plants evolved through time. A pair of diagrams give the basics and walkways branch off into sections devoted to the Eocene, Late Cretaceous, Early Jurassic, Pennsylvanian and Early Devonian periods.
Garden hours: 9 a.m.-6 p.m., daily. Library: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wed.-Mon. Bookstore: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. daily.