San Francisco Botanical Gardens – San Francisco, California - Atlas Obscura
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San Francisco, California

San Francisco Botanical Gardens

Golden Gate Park's historic botanical collection. 

Planned as early as the 1880s, the Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park finally opened in 1940, and have been a growing and evolving work in progress ever since.

The garden contains an estimated 8,000 types of plants; rare plants like the giant orange passionflower Passiflora parritae find space beside great prehistoric ferns, native redwoods, and poisonous interlopers like hemlock and deadly nightshade.

Scattered throughout the garden’s 55 acres are stones from William Randolf Hearst’s great folly: A 12th century monastery he had exported at great expense from Spain in 1930, then was forced to abandon when his great wealth failed him. The stone courtyard near the 9th Avenue entrance is constructed entirely from these stones.

The Garden of Fragrance, filled with rosemary, mints, lemongrass and delicious smelling flowering plants of all kinds, it was specifically designed for visitors with limited eyesight to be able to enjoy and experience the garden’s olfactory delights.

At the front entrance of the gardens on 9th Avenue, the Helen Crocker Russell Library of Horticulture is home to thousands of volumes dedicated to plant care.

Read more from our explorations: Obscura Society Adventures: Secrets of the Gardens

Know Before You Go

San Francisco Botanical Garden is located in Golden Gate Park, near the corner of Ninth Avenue and Lincoln Way.