I have blogged about a visit to the Ruth Bancroft Gardens in Walnut Creek, CA before. Among two or three hundred other locations of interest to plant lovers, The Bancroft Gardens are part of what the American Horticultural Society called "reciprocal gardens." This means that if you are a member of one garden you can visit all the others for free. A neat thing about Bancroft is they sometimes offer reduced pricing on memberships
I recently joined the AHS after receiving an email with a discount code, and the first garden I visited with my AHS membership was Sherman Library and Gardens in Corona del Mar. Unfortunately, my camera battery went dead just about the time I walked through their door, but at least I had gotten one shot of the ocean on the way there.
Not to worry, the trip was such a nice experience that we'll go back soon and return with more and better pictures. Most of the botanical gardens in this program are off limits to professional photographers, but casual photos are OK, and if you want to see what is blooming you can look at the photo galleries of the various websites. The Sherman staff have posted some very beautiful photos on their site.
One of my favorite areas of the Sherman Gardens was the begonia exhibit. Of course, the orchids were nice, too, and so were the staff members that I met there. They have a nice parking lot in the back, as well.