Monday, April 11, 2011

Flowery front yards in Berkeley

It's disappointingly easy to find gloom and doom in the news, no matter the channel. When that gets to be too much, even for me -- and I know I can get pretty gloomy -- I take a walk.

Berkeley is a good city for walking. I think I must have said it before, but it's still true so I'll say it again: there are people on every block who put thought and care into their front-yard gardens.

Years ago a former neighbor in my building made a summer project out of landscaping our front yard, which he organized around a lovely flowering tree whose name I can't remember for the life of me. J-- has long migrated across the bay, but the tree he planted flourishes. Absent his attentive pruning, what was once a modest ornamental has grown like gangbusters. Here's a photo from the sidewalk, and a closeup of its flowers.

Walking around town at this time of year the sidewalks are fragrant with wisteria and jasmine, roses are blooming, poppies bob in breezes, lilies blossom on every block. Flowers whose names I can't begin to guess burst from my neighbors' lovely yards. As I track friends and colleagues in the midwest and on the east coast who are just now edging out of winter, I am reminded how lucky we are out here on the left side of the country.

Here are a few of the photos I took along some of my regular routes over this past weekend.

I never thought Alexander Pope and I shared a world view, but as I walk down the sidewalks and stop to smell (or photograph) the roses, I have to concede there's pretty solid proof he was right about one thing: Hope springs eternal in the human breast.

Thanks to all my green-thumbed neighbors...


  1. Flowers are REALLY pretty!

  2. Lovely, but what's the name of the first tree with the yellow blossoms?!? In the court of St. Paul's cathedral in London you can find the same kind of tree and I've been trying to find out its name for quite some time now... HELP! Thanks.

  3. That's a great question about the tree with yellow blossoms ... as I said in the post I didn't remember the name of the tree told to me by the neighbor who planted it, but a couple weeks later I asked a woman around the corner (an excellent gardener) who has the same tree in her front yard and she told me "flannel bush" is the colloquial name. Here's a link to the Wikipedia entry for Fremontodendron, which is the formal name.

    Thanks for reading and for asking!