Gardens in Golden Gate Park at San Francisco

Gardens in Golden Gate Park at San Francisco

If your looking for some calm and green space in San Francisco, then Golden Gate park is the place to go to relax or just explore the fun attractions in the area. There many separate gardens to visit from formal to desert and the Mediterranean style gardens that thrive in this environment. If your in the mood to explore the beautiful parts of the park, check out some of these wonderful gardens located in the park and open to the public for viewing.

 

Gardens in Golden Gate Park at San Francisco

Gardens in Golden Gate Park at San Francisco

Public gardens of Golden Gate Park

 

Springtime in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and it seems like everything is starting to bloom all at once in the park. It’s a great time to go out and explore the park and see what is blooming now. Come and join me for an afternoon stroll and lets enjoy a day visiting these lovely gardens.

 

Rhododendron dell in Golden Gate Park

Rhododendron dell in Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park gardens – McLaren Rhododendron Dell

One of the most popular gardens within the park is this old Rhododendron dell – a favorite of John McLaren, one of the founders and superintendent of the park who’s bronze figure is located in the central part of the dell amidst all these purples, pinks and fuchsia colored Rhododendrons. Walking around the island shaped trails around the dell is slow, meditative and a wonderful way to look at every individual plant and admire its beauty.

The area has just been replanted with new seating areas, making a nice quiet spot to read or meditate. Don’t you just love this place?

 

Rhododendrons in full bloom at Golden Gate Park

Rhododendrons in full bloom at Golden Gate Park

 

 

 

 

Gorgeous blooms at McLaren rhododendron dell

Gorgeous blooms at McLaren rhododendron dell

 

 

Some of these Rhododendrons are aromatic so you have to get very close to smell their intoxicating aromas – a combination of vanilla and jasmine like fragrance.

 

New Rhododendron plantings at Golden Gate park

New Rhododendron plantings at Golden Gate park

 

Golden Gate Park gardens – Japanese Tea Garden

The stunning Japanese Tea garden is also in full bloom when I visited. You wouldn’t think that there would be a lot of color in a Japanese tea garden, but during spring time, there is a colorful palate of cherry blossoms, irises, azaleas and dogwood blooming throughout the garden. The five acre garden is quite large with meandering paths that lead to many vista points,  garden ornamentation like a giant buddha and monumental pagodas or a gravel zen style garden.

 

Iris blooms at the Japanese tea gardens

Iris blooms at the Japanese tea gardens

 

 

You will find a lot of traditional Japanese garden elements such as an arched bridge, pagodas, tea houses, stepping paths and stone lanterns –  there is even a section with is a zen garden that is perfect for meditation and contemplating the raked graveled landscape. At this time of the year cherry blossoms are blooming profusely all over the garden and add a nice accent color in taking photographs.

Pagodas at the Japanese tea garden

Pagodas at the Japanese tea garden

 

 

 

Cherry blossoms in bloom at the Japanese tea garden

Cherry blossoms in bloom at the Japanese tea garden

 

It’s fun to enjoy some tea and Japanese dessert at the tea house overlooking a small pond and outdoor bonsai area of the garden. I think that taking some time to relax and enjoy the gardens while sipping some Japanese tea is a wonderful way to experience Japanese aesthetic and design in a garden, without having to fly all the way to Japan.

 

Golden Gate Park gardensStow Lake

A small lake that is popular for joggers and walkers, the lake is also a popular spot to rent a paddle boat and enjoy a day out on the lake and exploring the forested to clear areas surrounding the circular lake. California wildflowers and native perennials are planted around the lake and bloom most of the spring, summer to fall. During our walk around the lake, there were a few native flower blooms to enjoy and take some pictures of the lake and other landmarks in the background.

 

Stone bridge at Stow Lake in Golden Gate park

Stone bridge at Stow Lake in Golden Gate park

 

 

 

 

Irises in bloom along Stow Lake

Irises in bloom along Stow Lake

 

There are interesting features to visit and take photographs. These include: a granite stone bridge,  a Chinese pagoda and the boathouse where you can rent a paddle boat by the hour and row to all these landmarks.

 

Colorful wildlife at Stow Lake

Colorful wildlife at Stow Lake

 

 

Even though you can enjoy Stow Lake year round, the best times to visit this area when the California natives are in full bloom would be closer to late summer to early fall. Take a look at this post I did on Stow lake during the autumn timeframe when I visited the garden at its peak.

 

Stow Lake with pagoda in the background

Stow Lake with pagoda in the background

 

Golden Gate Park gardens – San Francisco Botanical garden

The botanical garden at Golden Gate Park is quite extensive with a series of Mediterranean zone gardens from around the world. The gardens are mapped out into clustered areas that flow from one garden into another, making it a leisurely stroll around the arboretum.

 

 

Protea blooms at the San Francisco botanical garden

Protea blooms at the San Francisco botanical garden

 

 

There are five major mediterranean zones from around the world in which the California zone is quite large and covers a vast amount of botany within the state. The botanical garden has over 55  acres of gardens showcasing over 8,000 unique plants from around the world.  Along with the Mediterranean gardens, there also unique gardens to discover including a japanese garden, a bamboo grove, redwood grove and a very cool prehistoric garden with really large-scale and strange-looking plants.

 

Prehistoric garden at SF botanical garden

Prehistoric garden at SF botanical garden

 

The gardens are maintained with a small crew of  full-time gardeners, so the majority of help is done through an extensive network of volunteers and interns. Having a dedicated group of volunteers who love gardening with each volunteer caring for a specific garden zones or task, these volunteers all help in keeping the gardens fresh and a wonderful place to explore the open spaces and enjoythe spring gardens in full bloom. The San Francisco Botanical Garden also houses the Helen Crocker library of Horticulture and a very nice gift shop close to the entry filled with garden related books and souvenirs.  To learn more about the botanical garden, visit their official website here.

 

California natives blooming around Stow Lake

California natives blooming around Stow Lake

 

 

 

 

California garden at Golden Gate Park

California garden at Golden Gate Park

 

Golden Gate Park gardens – Rose Garden

The time I visited the rose garden was still a little too early for the roses here to bloom in a big flush of colors, but there were a few plants that were already blooming including a variety of hybrids, miniature and old fashion roses that have been planted and cared for through generations of rose volunteers from the local rose chapters. The garden typically gets 3 to 4  cycles of  blooms per year with a major flush of blooms typically occurring during the July to August time frame.

 

Rose garden at Golden Gate Park

Rose garden at Golden Gate Park

 

 

The rose garden is easily laid out in two elevated and rectangular garden beds. This make walking around and visiting all the plants and flowers easy to access and enjoy their fragrant smells. Initially set up as a testing bed for the San Francisco American Rose Society in which a dedicated crew lovingly maintain the beds of over 60 different rows of roses. The rose garden is a quiet and popular spot to picnic and enjoy these scented beauties at the same time.

 

 

Red roses at the rose garden in Golden Gate Park

Red roses at the rose garden in Golden Gate Park

 

 

 

 

Floribunda rose blooms in the Rose Garden at Golden Gate park

Floribunda rose blooms in the Rose Garden at Golden Gate park


Golden Gate Park gardens – Conservatory of Flowers

The Conservatory of Flowers with it’s stunning glass greenhouses and Cupola is one of Golden Gate Park’s showcase attractions. The Victorian glass house has captivated locals and tourists alike visiting Golden Gate Park for over a century. Inside the conservatory are three  distinct areas that focus on horticulture of plants from the cloud forests of the Amazon to the South Asian tropics, and there is a special section reserved for rotating exhibits with a special theme.

 

Conservatory of Flowers at Golden Gate park

Conservatory of Flowers at Golden Gate park

 

The permanent displays over the central rotunda with the cloud forest and tropical flowers are quite impressive to walk through. There is enough signage and information to take a self tour of the gardens or you can also follow with a docent tour of the Conservatory. The docents are volunteer who love to give their audience some of the history, background, re-construction and current happenings at the Conservatory.

 

Conservatory of flowers main gallery

Conservatory of flowers main gallery

 

 

 

 

A tropical ginger plant at the Conservatory of flowers

A tropical ginger plant at the Conservatory of flowers

 

 

 

 

Year miniature train exhibit is an annual favorite at the Conservatory

Year miniature train exhibit is an annual favorite at the Conservatory

 

 

Golden Gate Park gardens – Cactus and succulent garden at the Conservatory

The Cactus and succulent garden just to the right of the Conservatory of flowers is an add-on to the conservatory that is ideally situated on a hill capturing southern exposure light- perfect for these mediterraneans. There are walks going uphill with views or the park and into a forested area, or you can easily walk through the circular area below with the dahlia dell in the center garden. The dahlias are also worth visiting when they peak around September until the end of the year.

 

Cactus and succulent garden at the Conservatory of Flowers

Cactus and succulent garden at the Conservatory of Flowers

 

The peak season for these succulents and cactus bloomers tend to be closer to the winter months in December to February time frame where many of these plants bloom in their native habitat. I’m showing you some pictures that I have taken when I visited the Conservatory during the winter time.

 

Succulents in bloom by the Conservatory of Flowers

Succulents in bloom by the Conservatory of Flowers

 

 

 

 

Succulents and cactus by the Conservatory of Flowers

Succulents and cactus by the Conservatory of Flowers

 

 

Golden Gate Park gardens – the dahlia dell

 

There are many more gardens and hidden dells that bloom at the park at different times of the year. In early springtime, the area around the windmill closer to the ocean is planted with thousands of tulips and is a gorgeous and colorful show to witness. Typically the tulips can last up to a month’s time frame from the start of the blooming cycles. Next to the the beautiful Conservatory of Flowers,  is the dahlia dell which starts putting out a stunning display around the latter part of August all the way to November and even December timeframe. I have a post of the dahlia dell in full bloom during the autumn time frame, you can take a look at the garden in it’s peak here.

 

Dahlia Dell at Golden Gate Park

Dahlia Dell at Golden Gate Park

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Gardens in Golden Gate Park at San Francisco

 

As you can see, there is a lot to see at Golden Gate park if you are into gardens – along with beautiful architecture, historical landmarks, museums and other popular attractions within the park. It’s definitely a wonderful place to discover these gardens or some of the landmarks in the park.

 

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18 Responses to Gardens in Golden Gate Park at San Francisco

  1. Heather May 24, 2014 at 3:57 pm #

    How beautiful! In all my visits to San Francisco, somehow I’ve never made it to Golden Gate Park. What an oversight! That will definitely be a top priority on my next visit, especially since it looks gorgeous year round!

  2. Brianna May 21, 2014 at 2:17 pm #

    What gorgeous blooms Noel!

  3. Kara May 21, 2014 at 7:19 am #

    I have been meaning to go here for a long time! Now I will have to check it out in July to see the roses! Thanks for the tip!

  4. Kara May 21, 2014 at 7:18 am #

    I have been meaning to go here for a long time! Now it looks like I will go in July when the roses are blooming! Thanks for the tip!

  5. Carmen May 17, 2014 at 1:29 pm #

    Great photos! It looks breathtakingly peaceful. We didn’t go here when we were in San Fran! But we’re planning a two month visit at some point so I’m sure we’ll be sure to see it then 🙂

  6. budget jan May 16, 2014 at 4:48 pm #

    That lovely peachy first flower looks good enough to eat. A flower banquet 🙂

  7. elaine schoch May 16, 2014 at 10:46 am #

    Wow! Your photos always blow me away…

  8. anna parker May 16, 2014 at 2:15 am #

    what incredible clarity to the photos. particularly like the Japanese tea garden, and also the ones that aren’t on such a sunny day – the colours and depth remain good even without the sunshine, so it must be a stunning spot! always enjoy your photo stories – makes me need to improve my own knowledge!!

  9. Magali@TheLittleWhiteHouse May 15, 2014 at 11:51 pm #

    Such an amazing garden, with so many different but equally gorgeous spaces. The roses are very delicate, but the rhododendrons are so luxuriant!

  10. Marilyn Armstrong May 15, 2014 at 5:05 am #

    Gorgeous. I wish I were there!

  11. Kathryn May 15, 2014 at 2:54 am #

    Lovely photos – I especially like the first one. If I ever make it to San Francisco I’ll certainly be paying a visit to these gardens. Sounds as if, ideally, you need to visit at different times of the year to see the best of everything.

  12. Jen Seligmann May 15, 2014 at 12:55 am #

    So beautiful! I’m always on the hunt for nice gardens in every place I visit. I’ll be sure to check out Golden Gate Park when i’m in San Francisco next year.

  13. Jackie May 15, 2014 at 12:42 am #

    I will never bore of your posts or photos Noel. They are always so uplifting and beautiful, and this one is no exception. I can almost smell some of these flowers and I adore the Japanese Garden.

  14. Corinne May 14, 2014 at 10:03 pm #

    Noel, Oh how I love flowers and red-winged blackbirds…so, so pretty!

  15. JR Riel May 14, 2014 at 6:38 pm #

    Beautiful photos, Noel! You can never run out of great flower shots while living in Hawaii…

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  3. Cool places and backstreets of San Francisco | Travel Photo DiscoveryTravel Photo Discovery - August 5, 2014

    […] The area around Golden Gate park is a treasure trove of wonderful museums, conservatories, playgrounds and of course a variety of local and exotic gardens covering many facets of landscape and garden design. There are many specialty gardens around the park that bloom seasonally and at certain times of the year. I just did a post of some of my favorite gardens to visit around the park and you can enjoy some of my photographs and information about these gardens here. […]

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