Sunset Magazine Gardens, Menlo Park, CA

January 14, 2015 at 12:27 am | Posted in Miscellaneous | Leave a comment

Some might think it odd to go to a botanical garden in the middle of January. However, if you live in the Bay Area, visiting Sunset Gardens is not odd at all. The climate here is ideal for flora, no matter the season.
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Left: The entrance to Sunset Magazine Gardens.
Center and Right: After you enter, you walk through a foyer and enter a shaded patio area.

Sunset Gardens is a year-round attraction, with thousands of visitors every year. It is located on 7 acres in the middle of Menlo Park, and is about 3 miles from my residence. I urge you to click on this link to read the history of the gardens.
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Left: This stately oak tree is one of the focal points of the garden.
Center and Right: I experimented with the Macro setting on my camera with these results. The focus could have been sharper on the picture on the right, but then, it could just as easily been operator error.

The citrus and cabbages were a sight to behold.
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Left: Grapefruit.
Center: Tangerines.
Right: Cabbages.

I changed to my 55-210 mm zoom lens and took some close-up shots of the cabbages with these results. It was a lot easier on me and the environment than using the Macro setting on my other lens and having to got on my knees in the flower bed to get the same pictures.
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Left, Center, and Right: Cabbages.

As I walked around the grounds, I couldn’t help but wonder at the splendor of these gardens, and how meticulously they are maintained.
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Left: Two more stately oak trees, which are also a focal point you can’t help but notice as you enter the gardens.
Center: Unidentified, but colorful, plant.
Right: Unidentified plants.

There is even a totem pole.
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Left: Totem pole from afar.
Center: Self explanatory.
Right: Totem pole.

Continuing my walk around the gardens, I took more close-up images. Again, I opted for my 55-210 mm zoom lens. In order to get close enough to get similar pictures using the Macro feature on my camera, I would have to trample the fragile eco-system.
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This is one of my favorite areas. At this point, you are halfway through the gardens, and you can sit on  the bench and reflect on the awesomeness of nature before you continue your tour.
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Continuing on my tour, the next thing you come to are the Azaleas, (at least I think they’re Azaleas, although they could be Magnolias, I’m not sure).
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Left: Azaleas (or Magnolias).
Center: Same as above.
Right: Do a 180, and there are those two majestic oak trees again.

Next stop is the cactus garden.
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Left: Cactus.
Center: Cacti.
Right: More cacti.

At this point, I did 180 degree turn away from the cactus garden and took this 150 degree panorama shot of most of the gardens. I would have taken an even wider angle than 150 degrees, but there was some clutter on the lawn (on the right as you look at the picture) and I didn’t want to include it in the final product. Have I mentioned yet how much I love this camera?
This panorama image includes the two oak trees seen earlier as well as the first stately oak I mentioned in the beginning. It also includes most of the building.

As my tour comes full circle, I get a closer look at that awesome oak tree, but from a different angle.
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Left: Oak tree.
Center: A closer look.
Right: The patio. A nice place to unwind after your tour. If you bring your own coffee or tea, or heck even a lunch, it is even more enjoyable.

Here are a couple of planters on the patio.
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Left: Planters.
Center: More planters.
Right: my first ever ‘selfie’. It didn’t turn out too bad considering the subject matter. My camera takes excellent pictures, but it doesn’t work miracles.

I love this place and come here about once a month. Alas, Time Warner (Sunset Magazine’s corporate overlord) sold this property last month to a real estate investment firm [the property sold for 77 million dollars, about 11 million per acre, so I can understand why they did it; but it still pisses me off]. These gardens are an iconic part of the South Bay and have been open for over 60 years. They are as close to Heaven as I will ever get. Walking through the gardens is like walking in an immaculately groomed park…without all of the kids, dogs and accursed frisbee throwers. I don’t know how much longer I will be able to enjoy them. Hopefully the new owners will take their time developing the property. I’d hate to miss spring and summer, and fall too, this year. If touring the Sunset Magazine Gardens is on your ‘bucket list’ you should move it to the top and check it off A.S.A.P. Don’t forget to stop by and say “hi” to me. Heck, I’ll go with you, and take you to lunch afterward.


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