White petals

After a very long time away, a visit yesterday (Totally Vaccinated Day + 1) to Palo Alto’s Gamble Garden, thanks to Kim Darnell (who also took the pictures). It was the Saturday of Easter weekend, so of course the place was as packed as it could be, given distancing (and masking) requirements. A very high percentage of the visitors were Chinese(-American), many in three-generation groups, almost all of them speaking a Chinese language. Much joy.

It was tulip time, with irises soon to follow. Already many different salvias in bloom (the garden has dozens). And lots of oriental poppies in bloom, dotted here and there throughout the beds, for color. And intriguing things, as always, in the regional gardens — Mediterranean, Australian, South African, Chilean. Two standouts with white petals: Chilean strawberry plants, a Yoshino cherry tree (the ‘Akebono’ cultivar in white).

Fragraria chiloensis. In the Chilean section, we came across an expanse of plants with dark green serrated tripartite leaves and large white 5-petaled flowers, like single rose flowers. Obviously some kind of strawberry plant. Found the label:


From Wikipedia:

Fragaria chiloensis, the beach strawberry, Chilean strawberry, or coastal strawberry, is one of two species of wild strawberry that were hybridized to create the modern garden strawberry (F. × ananassa). It is noted for its large berries. Its natural range is the Pacific Ocean coasts of North and South America, and also Hawaii. Migratory birds are thought to have dispersed F. chiloensis from the Pacific coast of North America to the mountains of Hawaii, Chile, and Argentina.

[Description:] It is an evergreen plant growing to 15–30 centimetres (5.9–11.8 in) tall, with glossy green trifoliate leaves, each leaflet around 5 centimetres (2.0 in) long. The flowers are white, produced in spring and early summer. The fruit is edible, red on the surface, white inside.

Its fruit is still sold as a local delicacy in some South American produce markets.

Meanwhile, back on my patio, the pot of wild strawberry plants (Fragraria vesca) is also blooming. Everything in miniature. Soon to produce some intensely flavorful, but quite small, strawberries.

Prunus × yedoensis ‘Akebono’. Right by the entrance from the parking lot we used, this imposing, gorgeously blooming, ornamental cherry tree:


When we arrived, a father was posing under this cherry tree with a delighted kid in his arms, as white petals snowed down from the tree on them. Just one in a seemingly endless series of such photo ops.

From more or less inside the tree:


From Wikipedia on the plant (excerpts from an awkwardly written and organized entry):

Prunus × yedoensis ‘Somei-yoshino’ or Yoshino cherry … is a hybrid cherry of … Prunus speciosa (Oshima zakura) as father plant and Prunus pendula f. ascendens … as mother. It occurs as a natural or artificial hybrid in Japan, and is now one of the most popular and widely planted cultivated flowering cherries (sakura) in temperate climates worldwide.

… The flowers emerge before the leaves in early spring; they are fragrant, 3 to 3.5 centimeters (1.2–1.4 in) in diameter, with five white or pale pink petals.

… The Yoshino cherry was introduced to Europe and North America in 1902. The National Cherry Blossom Festival is a spring celebration in Washington, D.C., commemorating the 1912 gift of Japanese cherry trees from Tokyo to the city of Washington. They are planted in the Tidal Basin park. Several of 2,000 Japanese cherry trees given to the citizens of Toronto by the citizens of Tokyo in 1959 were planted in High Park. Pilgrim Hill in New York City’s Central Park is popular for its groves of pale flowering Yoshino cherry trees as they burst into bloom in the spring.

The cultivar ‘Akebono’ has very large semi-double flowers, in pink or white.

Personal notes. I made the visit using a walker (rather than a less steady cane), which allowed me to be fully supported in resting on the device to catch my breath (which I need to do a lot). And I had the walker’s tabletop in place as well, so that I had a surface I could take notes on, in the little notebook I carry in my shirt pocket. Managing to write at all is hard for me, but the tabletop makes it imaginable — and in fact I could read the notes I took (often I can’t).

On the other hand, I’m moving around with a bulky object that gets in people’s way and tends to be balky at obstacles. But then in a time of social distancing, that’s not so troublesome. On balance, it gives me some freedom without interfering too much with other people’s, so it’s a good thing.

Next time, the garden will be less crowded, and I’ll have more energy. Step by step.

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