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Great Escape: Revel in Spring Flowers at UC Botanical Garden

Every rain and every sunny day bring something new to the diverse and beautiful garden in Strawberry Canyon above UC Berkeley.

This week's Great Escape was a tip from Patch's own copy editor, Dixie Jordan. Outside of keeping all of us spell-checked and grammatically correct, she is a plant enthusiast and recommended that with Spring well underway, I (along with all of you) pay a visit to the UC Botanical Garden.

“UC's Botanical Garden is absolutely gorgeous at rhododendron season.” she wrote in an e-mail. “Good with or without kids."

Though rhododendron season is still a month or two away, you'll soon be able to find rhodies along with magnolias, camellia and peonies in the The Asian Collection, blooming among maples and bamboos.

The rhododendron shrub also grows in the Eastern North American Collection, washing the forest floor with its pink and purple hues along with myriad other flowers that catch the early spring sunlight, before the branches of the trees above shade them with brand-new leaves in the summer.

Areas of the garden include a native Californian collection, as well as plants from every corner of the world. The UC collection is one of the most comprehensive in the United States, holding over 13,000 different kinds of plants.

There is an herb garden, which explains the many human uses of plants, an English-style rose garden and even a carnivorous collection, where you can watch these unique plants capture and consume flies and other small creatures.

The flowers may not bloom year-long, but there is always an abundance of events and exhibitions happening at the Botanical Garden. This Sunday, the Fiber and Dye Exhibit will kick off with a book release and workshop on natural plant dyes. Look at the garden's calendar and you'll certainly find an event, talk or special presentation you'll want to check out – from  that welcome both you and your baby to botanical art classes.

The UC Botanical Garden is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and closed every first Tuesday of the month. Admission is free the first Thursday of each month.

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