Friday, April 21, 2017


Spring is everywhere, isn't it? This time of year always reminds me of our time in Tokyo. Unlike California where many types of flowers bloom at once, Japan's plantings appear a little bit at a time. First, the plum blossoms, then the cherry blossoms fill the air with their faint perfume. People organize cherry blossom viewing parties and make a point to go to temples, shrines, and parks during March and April. After the trees cast off their blooms, the tulips come up followed by wisteria, roses, hydrangea, and then iris in June.

Some shrines and temples are known for growing particular types of flowers. Kameido Shrine in Tokyo is a great place to view wisteria while Meigetsuin Temple in Kamakura blooms with hydrangeas.  In June you can walk next to the iris-filled streams in Meiji Shrine in Toyko. You might also get a chance to see young women in their Spring kimono walking the grounds.

Do you have a favorite garden that you go to in the Spring?

With the wet weather we had in the Bay Area this winter, public gardens here in the Bay Area are filled with flowers at their peak.

Easly Spring at Filoli

The tulips at Filoli in bloom

Filoli and the Gamble Garden in Palo Alto both have large plantings that you can wander through.
Hakone Gardens in Saratoga provides another chance to see a Japanese style garden.The Blake Garden in Kensington is a research garden, part of UC Berkeley, with surprising views of the Bay Area. Even at Ruth Bancroft's Succulent Garden in Walnut Creek, you can spot flowers on the succulents and cacti that she planted there.

Though the flowers are already gone from this cactus, the fruit left behind is beautiful too.

Have you seen your first iris, bird-of-paradise or a Swallowtail butterfly of the year? Are you counting the bees in your area? If you are, send your data to the Great Sunflower Project.

Let me know if you have a public garden near you.

Check out these websites for more information about public gardens in the Northern California and Japan:  Palo Alto, CA   Palo Alto, CA  Menlo Park, CA  Saratoga, CA  Kensington, CA


  1. I love the Ruth Bancroft Garden...also Heather Farms. I have yet to go to Filoli!!!

  2. Found Hakone after passing by its very nondescript entrance for many years. It was a revelation. One year, my husband and I took my mom for an early B-day present to both Strybing Arboretum and then to Hakone. It was a wisteria/cherry blossom/ rhodie overload. So much intensity--it was hard to soak it all in. One of my favorite plants was non-blooming. a full grown Hinoki Cypress. *sigh*

    1. I think Hakone is a hidden gem and worth a visit. Picking out the Hinoki Cypress as a favorite plant -- especially after all the abundance of rhodies and other spring bloomers -- provided you with a moment of quiet midst all that beautiful cacophony! Thanks, Sue, for your comments.


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