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Ode To Spring - San Francisco Botanical Garden in February

Updated on August 29, 2017
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The author lives in a quiet seaside community in Puna on the Big Island of Hawaii. He's an avid gardener, traveler, and photographer.


San Francisco Botanical Garden is considered to be one of the most diverse botanical gardens on the planet. It’s a living museum of plants - with an incredible collection of over 20,000 plants - from around the world! Located in the Golden Gate Park, the garden contains 55 acres of landscaped gardens, ponds, walking trails, and open meadows. It’s a place where visitors can leisurely stroll through, spend time learning about the plants, and simply enjoy nature in a quiet, peaceful setting. When you’re in the garden, it’s hard to imagine there’s a bustling metropolis outside the fence!


The garden offers seasonal highlights - peak flowering periods of different plants - throughout the year so visitors can plan their visit accordingly. One of the highlights is in early spring (mid-January through March) when the glorious magnolias, as well as rhododendrons and camellias, are blooming in profusion. It’s quite a breathtaking sight, especially with the exquisite fragrance of the magnolias filling the garden!



In 1937 the first ground construction and planting began for San Francisco Botanical Garden. It was officially open to the public in May 1940 under the name Strybing Arboretum. Over the years, it has undergone many changes and additions, and still continues to evolve as its plant collections grow. Today, it’s recognized as a world-class botanical garden, managed by a team of dedicated botanists, conservationists, researchers, and an army of volunteers! With more than half-a-million people from all over the world visiting each year, it remains one of the top tourist attractions in San Francisco.



Designed by landscape architect Robert Tetlow, San Francisco Botanical Garden is divided into a series of gardens or sections, showcasing the plants (some which no longer exist in their native habitats!) from Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Central and South America, and South Africa. There’s a California Native Plant section featuring many beautiful species of California’s wildflowers and a mini-forest of towering redwood giants! Other impressive collections include the Ancient Plant Garden (with rare tree ferns and cycads - living fossils from a time when the dinosaurs roamed the earth!) and the exotic flowering trees and shrubs from the cloud forests of the Andes in South America and Southeast Asia.



San Francisco Botanical Garden is home to nearly 100 prized magnolia specimens! Some are extremely rare and endangered, so it’s a treat to see these magnificent flowering trees in person. Due to the year round cool temperature and mild winter weather, along with plenty of moisture (San Francisco’s famous dense coastal fog!), magnolias thrive here at the garden. A few were planted back in the mid-1930s and now they've grown into mature trees almost 90 feet tall! On selected full moon nights from mid-January to March, visitors flock to the garden for the “Magnolias by Moonlight” tour and are enchanted by the sight and smell of the pink and white blossoms under the moonlight.



The city of San Francisco has an excellent public transportation system! Visitors without rental cars can easily get to the botanical garden by bus from their hotels in downtown area. Bus 71 - runs east west across the city - will drop you off at the corner of Lincoln Way & 9th Ave which is only a few steps away from the garden’s Main Gate.

For more information on San Francisco bus route, fees and schedule, go to:

San Francisco Botanical Garden:

get directions


-The garden is open year round, from 9am-6pm (close 5pm during winter months).

-Admission is free for San Francisco residents. For non-residents $7, students and seniors $5. Wheelchair accessible.

-Explore at your own pace. Use the garden map (free with the admission ticket) as a guide or just wander around following your eyes and nose!

-Pack a picnic lunch, relax on the Great Meadow, or by the Waterfowl Pond, and enjoy the expansive view of the garden. (Don’t feed the ducks or squirrels: it’s not a petting zoo!)

-Stop by the garden’s Library and check out its interesting collection of horticultural books/magazines and botanical art exhibitions.

-The Gift Shop/Plant Sale near the Main Gate is a must see! Take home some delightful souvenirs or a beautiful plant for your own garden.

-The garden hosts many special events and environmental education programs for visitors of all ages, be sure to check its schedule at



The author recently spent a week in San Francisco - the great city of love and peace. He didn’t wear any flowers in his hair or leave his heart there, but he did meet a lot of gentle, friendly people. All photos were taken by the author with a SamsungPL120 DualView 14.2MP Digital Camera.

All Rights Reserved

Copyright © 2013 Viet Doan (punacoast)


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