Blake Gardens-weekday beauty!

We had grand visions of a post with several options for Spring Break fun. Then all of a sudden, Spring Break is upon us. So that post didn’t happen. Now that some of the local schools are in the midst of Spring Break, the one strong suggestion we are going to make for your Spring Break is to carve out an hour or so to go and wander Blake Gardens, in Kensington. (Maybe take a picnic lunch?)

IMG_6189Blake Gardens is tucked away on a side street off the Arlington. You would never, never know it was there just from driving by. It’s a garden (open to the public) that is used as a landscape laboratory for the Landscape Architecture department at UC Berkeley. I don’t remember how I stumbled upon it (probably through some excessive googling, how I tend to find many of our outdoor adventures), but it’s definitely worth a trip. The grounds are only open on weekdays (10-4:30, additionally closed all university holidays), which is why if you have charge of some children this week or next, you should take them to see the gardens.

IMG_6194(It’s also a perfect place to come and be quiet and calm all by yourself, so if you don’t get the kids there while they are on spring break, by all means, sneak off some weekday and enjoy some solitary time.)

IMG_6191There are several sections of the garden, from a less-structured approach (see header image, with the Cal scarecrow presiding), to the more formal pots and symmetrical paths. The more formal section looks out on a beautiful view of the bay, with a much less manicured hillside.The wild-ish hillside has a child-sized tunnel made of what looks like bamboo, or some other kind of reed (see below). On the other side of the tunnel section is a BEAUTIFUL section that I completely missed the first time I came here.

IMG_6209It’s also completely free, which I find amazing. It’s a little slice of peace and beauty– the kind of thing that feels like a luxurious treat, but is, in fact, completely in line with your budget. I’m totally in love. The three year old was enchanted as well. We only spent a bit over 30 minutes there but she was clear that she wanted to come back again. As if free admission wasn’t enough of a windfall, it’s also fine to bring dogs on leashes. (Clearly, clean up after your dog, although this place is so beautiful, I can’t imagine anyone not rushing to pick up their dog’s poop.)

IMG_6216The website for the garden did mention that the number of people has increased, and they are trying to keep the garden peaceful and calm for everyone, so maybe reminding the kiddos to hold off on their spontaneous interactive rendition of “Go! Bears! Go! Bears!” is a good idea. I think the garden encourages calm, though– at least, it did with our normally rambunctious three year old.

Remember though– this jewel is only open on weekdays, 10-4:30. Plantings change throughout the year, so if you don’t make it for spring break, play hooky at some other point in the year. You won’t regret it, I promise.

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