Berkeley Rose Garden
1200 Euclid Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94708
For more than 75 years, visitors have flocked to the city’s Rose Garden to admire 3,000 rose bushes and 250 different varieties of roses. Located in a canyon two miles north of the UC Berkeley campus, the focal point of the 3.6-acre garden is the terraced amphitheater, gracefully adorned with several rows of roses, making it a popular site for an intimate wedding ceremony. The amphitheater walkway is sheltered with a 220-foot-long redwood pergola, with climbing roses residing on each post adding to the unique charm. What makes this garden even more attractive is its incredible view of the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Morcom Rose Garden
700 Jean St.
Oakland, CA 94610
Located just a few miles northeast of Lake Merritt is the East Bay’s oldest and largest public rose garden, spanning more than seven acres. Now formally known as the Amphitheatre of Roses, the Morcom Rose Garden is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and accredited by the American Rose Society. Additionally, the Morcom Rose Garden is often considered to be among the country’s top 10 best public rose gardens. Of particular interest are the violet and dual-colored roses, a reflecting pool and a 10-tiered waterfall.
Mt. Diablo State Park
96 Mitchell Canyon Road
Clayton, CA 94517
Arguably the best East Bay location to view spring wildflowers is Mount Diablo State Park in Contra Costa County. Although traveling to the park via the North Gate or South Gate entrances can be a little tricky, the effort will be well worth the trouble, particularly in April, when wildflowers are in full bloom. Visitors can expect to see a large variety of wildflowers, including Wind poppies, Indian paintbrushes and Ithuriel’s spears. Although it isn’t necessary to reach the 3,848-foot summit, it does offer a commanding 360-degree view of the Bay and features an historic visitor center.
Regional Parks Botanical Garden at Tilden Regional Park
Wildcat Canyon Road at S. Park Drive
Berkeley, CA 94708
Not far from Berkeley’s Rose Garden is the Regional Parks Botanical Garden; a sprawling 10-acre garden nestled within the Berkeley Hills. Although flowers bloom year-round here, the best time to visit begins in March, with native California flowers such as the California poppy, trilliums, and fawn lilies awakening. The gardens are divided into sections representing distinct locations in California and its native plants, some considered to be rare or endangered. Desert, Rainforest Sierran, Seabluff and Shasta-Klamath are among the sections on display, giving visitors the rare opportunity to enjoy the vast diversity of Californian plants from their respective regions.
UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley
200 Centennial Drive
Berkeley, CA 94720
Established in the 1870s, the 34-acre botanical gardens at UC Berkeley are known for their diverse collection of more than 13,000 plants. The collections are on display in geographic regions, such as Asian, Eastern North America, New World Desert and South American. Among the highlights of the gardens are The Garden of Roses and The Orchid, Fern and Carnivorous Plant House. While visiting the Botanical Gardens is free and open to the public, group tours may be arranged for a nominal fee.
Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. His work can be found on Examiner.com.