Blake Garden 70 Rincon Rd./Arlington Ave.; in Kensington. Free. Surrounding the residence of the president of the University of California, this enormously varied 10½-acre hillside garden was designed in the 1920s by Anita Blake--one of the first students in the landscape architecture department at U.C. Berkeley--and her sister Mabel Symmes. The garden is used by both U.C. and other area educational institutions as an outdoor laboratory and educational facility. It divides more than 1,000 plant species into several areas: a formal Italianate garden with reflecting pool; a redwood canyon with under plantings of ferns, gingers, and other woodland exotic species; a drought-tolerant garden; a flower cutting garden; a vegetable garden; and an undeveloped Australian Hollow. Benches positioned throughout invite quiet reflection, and picnic tables are available.
A Carmelite Monastery is adjacent on what was once part of the original lot. Established in 1949 in a 60-room 1925 Spanish revival mansion, it is said to be the most secluded monastery in the U.S. Nuns live in silence and without heat, and they leave only for medical appointments. A small chapel is open to the public. More.