Nature

Cherries, plums, wisteria: A Berkeley of nature lovers

Yesterday it was revealed that our readers knew more than a little about the nature around us — not that we were surprised, of course.

Reader AJ Arora had chanced upon a February thread on Berkeleyside about cherry blossoms. On February 5, readers had chimed in on the appearance of blossoms on these beautiful trees in Berkeley, and in particular a tree whose fragrance  prompted reader Becca, on a morning walk with her dog, to stop in her tracks.

So yesterday, AJ Arora asked: “Does anyone have the address/location of this cherry blossom (or another one in Berkeley or SF)? I’m dating a Japanese girl who was reminiscing about the cherry blossoms in Tokyo this time of year… and I thought it would be great to take her to one around here.”

Maureen Burke wrote:


Filoli on the Peninsula is nearly a month later than Berkeley in bloom time. I bet their weeping cherries in the walled garden are peaking. You can also show her the Japanese tree peonies developed by Mr. Domoto that are growing there. There are many wonderful Japanese plants in the UC Botanical Garden Asian section, including those amazing Arisaemas. Strybing Arboretum has some cherries as well, but bloom time may be over. But nearby along the major road (Kennedy Dr?) is a long line of Japanese styrax and those are worth a look, too. Finally, Hakone Gardens in Saratoga is a charming Japanese garden with cherries among other lovelies.

And Peggy added:

Plum blossom is one of the major motifs in Chinese art. Plum trees can bloom in snow on rocky hillsides in China; they bloom in adversity and are therefore admired for their heartiness. You’ll notice they usually bloom in early February here, right around Chinese New Year and that is no coincidence. We almost always have a week or two of warm weather/false spring then and they pop – then it starts raining again. I adopted my daughter in China 16 years ago and got home Feb. 2 that year. Her Chinese middle name means plum blossom; we got home and 2 days later all the plum trees outside our house on Dana St. at Carleton bloomed. It was a wonderful welcome home. It makes me happy every year. There is some gorgeous wisteria on Mariposa, one of the most beautiful streets in Berkeley.

AJ Arora was duly grateful, and pointed out there’s a cherry blossom festival in Japantown the next two weekends. “Perhaps there will still be some blossoms on the ground in the tea garden.”

Our own Frances Dinkelspiel pointed out that it’s wisteria season now, and AJ wondered where the best places were to see that. Apart from outside the window of my study, my recommendation would be the facade of Bernard Maybeck’s First Church of Christ Science on Dwight Way (pictured above), which is looking stunning right now, draped with lashings of purple wisteria.