Garden of Fragrance – San Francisco, California - Atlas Obscura

Garden of Fragrance

Olfactory delights in San Francisco's Botanical Gardens. 


From a wall of cascading rosemary to mint and lemon verbena, the San Francisco Botanical Garden’s Garden of Fragrance is specially designed to be a delight to the sense of smell.

Designed in 1965 for handicapped persons and the visually impaired, the garden is designed to allow a full experience through smell and touch. Over the years it has been updated and restored, and is now full of birds and bees enjoying the lush plantings.

Above a small pond, a bronze sculpture of Saint Francis, patron saint of San Francisco, looks over the gardens. The sculpture was created by Clara Huntington, the adopted daughter of city patron Collis Potter Huntington, the American Railway magnate and namesake of Huntington Falls at Stow Lake. Saint Francis made his first appearance across the city at the 1939 International Exhibition on Treasure Island, and was later donated to the gardens. Many of the garden walls and borders in the small garden are constructed of an unusual building material: stones from a 12th century monastery brought to San Francisco by William Randolf Hearst. 

The Garden of Fragrance is located just a short way inside inside the main gates, to the right. A free downloadable podcast walking tour and accompanying PDF walking tour of the garden is available from the Botanical Garden’s web site.

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