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From the Executive Director

Dear Friends,

Magnolia stellata 'Rubra'
Magnolia stellata 'Rubra'

More Magnolias at SFBG

Magnolias Magnolias Magnolias Magnolias Magnolias

Magnificent Magnolias Walk >>

People often ask me when they should visit San Francisco to see the Botanical Garden at its best. They are almost always surprised when I tell them that if they can't make it in the spring for the California natives, the magnolias in February and March cannot be beat. This might be especially true this year. The magnolias in the Garden are in heavy bud, ready to burst into spectacular bloom in the first weeks of February. The recent warm weather has synched and primed them all, and we expect the full participation of every magnolia tree in a great symphony of color, which may last a while; the forecast in the coming weeks is for more warm weather, with little rain to knock the flowers off the branches. A few buds have already blossomed, and by next week there will be a few more. In two weeks there will be thousands.

On Sunday, the 8th of February, docent Dr. Joseph Barbaccia will lead a “Magnificent Magnolias” Walk, giving attendees a guided tour of one of the country's finest deciduous magnolia collections. It will be a great opportunity to experience these beautiful flowers at what will hopefully be the peak of their bloom.

I would also like to take this opportunity to make you aware of an important project at the Garden that has been in planning for years and has just begun this week. Through a combination of privately raised funds and public bond money, the Botanical Garden's pathways project is underway. Many of our paths are in poor shape and just as many are not properly wheelchair accessible. This project will repair, repave, reroute, and regrade the paths that need it most.

You might have already noticed a construction trailer outside our Muir gate. You will certainly soon notice the paving work being done. The first section of demolition and paving will involve the northernmost path from the rest rooms near the Friend (north) gate along the inside perimeter of the Botanical Garden above the Zellerbach Garden and ending at the Muir gate just past the top of the Succulent Garden.

We will keep you updated on the progress of the pathways project through our web site, and will update it as we are given the construction schedule. This is a major project that will be disturbing pieces of the Garden for the rest of the year, but it is phased. After one section is completed, that portion will truly be complete and ready for use again. Through signage and our website, we will do our best to notify visitors of where work is currently being done. When you're here, just watch out for construction barriers and do not cross them for your own safety. They will be well marked.

I recently attended a training session for the workers involved in this project. They received a lesson in the history and mission of the Botanical Garden and heard our concerns for the safety of our visitors and plant collections during construction. They really seemed enthusiastic. I think we will have a great crew at work. They understand the value of our collections and will be working with our curatorial staff, gardeners, and an arborist throughout the project to make sure our plants are properly protected.

With Warm Regards,


Michael McKechnie
Executive Director, San Francisco Botanical Garden Society


Back to February 2009 newsletter >>