The 10.6 acre public garden, with its stunning hill views of the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate, is located four miles north of the Berkeley campus in the town of Kensington. Our mission is to expand and sustain a well designed outdoor environment that supports teaching and research in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning. Blake Garden encourages the development of understanding and appreciation of nature in the garden environment. The garden contains a large diversity of plant materials that grow in our Mediterranean type climate and contains new and historic garden design and structures designed and built by UC Professors from the College of Environmental Design, students, and the garden's staff.
- Hours + Visitor Information
- Volunteer Opportunities
- Contact Us
70 Rincon Road, Kensington, CA 94707
Free parking is available.
Monday— Friday, 8am-4:30pm
Saturday and Sunday, Closed
Closed the following Holidays:
M L King Day, Monday January 17th, 2022
President’s Day, Monday February 21st, 2022
Cesar Chavez Day (observed), Friday March 25th, 2022
Memorial Day, Monday May 30th, 2022
Juneteenth (observed), Monday June 20th, 2022
Independence Day, Monday July 4th, 2022
Tours are available for groups of 10 and more
Please contact: Meghan Ray, Blake Garden Manager
Phone: (510) 524-2449
Well behaved dogs on leash are welcome in the garden.
Owners must clean up after their pets.
We ask you to take all your trash away with you.
There are many wondrous things for children to look at and discover at Blake Garden. We ask parents and children to stay on the paths, not to throw anything into the pools, no picking of plants, flowers or fruits, no tree and rock climbing. There are several parks nearby with play structures. There are steep slopes in the garden, some with stairs but baby carriages can be used with caution.
Blake Garden is built in the Kensington hills. There are steep slopes throughout the garden. Parts of the garden can be accessed by wheelchair. Please call or email Meghan Ray for more information about the garden’s accessibility.
A trail map and brochure is available on line. Plant and bird lists are available at the greenhouse garden office.
Restrooms are located at the greenhouse.
Blake Garden is a site for experiential learning for classes in landscape design, plant identification, environmental planning, painting and drawing, and photography, to name a few. As well as being a resource for the department it serves various area colleges and schools, organizations and groups and the community at large.
Blake offers workstudy opportunities to UC Berkeley Students:
Projects may include:
- Invasive species identification and control
- Planting & transplanting
- Propagating plant material
- Pruning trees and shrubs
- Wall, path & seating construction
- Garden bed restoration
- Composting, developing soil health
- Integrated pest management
- Water management
Meghan Ray, Blake Garden Manager
Phone: (510) 524-2449
Blake Garden provides a wonderful opportunity to learn about plants while making a valuable contribution to the welfare of the garden. You can work in a beautiful environment and get to know people who are knowledgeable and passionate about the garden, its plants, and horticulture.
If you are interested please contact:
Meghan Ray, Blake Garden Manager
Phone: (510) 524-2449
70 Rincon Road
Kensington, CA 94707
Meghan Ray, Garden Manager
University of California, Berkeley
Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Design
202 Wurster Hall, #2000
Berkeley, CA 94720-2000
The garden’s development began in the early 1920′s. Mr. And Mrs. Anson Blake, of Berkeley, sought a new site for their home to make way for the university’s proposed football stadium to be built at the entrance to Strawberry Canyon. Although the site had previously been purchased as a potential quarry, they realized that its true value was in its richly varied terrain, unusual rock outcrops, and the spectacular views of San Francisco and the bay area.
The garden was important from the beginning. So much so that when the house was designed, the Blakes impressed on the architect, Walter Bliss, that it be sited to take advantage of the views and shelter a portion of the garden from western marine exposure. Groves of laurel, coast redwood, canary island pine, acacia, and lacebark were planted in exposed areas throughout the garden using this approach.
The property, originally 22 acres, was designed to incorporate two homes; one for each of the brothers, Anson and Edwin Blake. Miss Mabel Symmes, one of the first students in the University of California at Berkeley, Department of Landscape Architecture and her sister, Mrs. Anson Blake, created the first garden plan.
Symmes and Blake created a progression of spaces by dividing the site into separate areas that reflected the varied topography and microclimates in the garden and linking them informally. Thus the visitor could experience the garden’s diversity and unique terrain in an intimate and logical way.
The garden is half its original size today. With Edwin’s death in the mid 1950s, the 22 acre property was divided into two parcels. The Anson Blakes retained 10.5 acres around their house. Edwin’s house retained a two acre parcel leaving the remaining land to be divided into small housing lots. Eventually, Edwin’s house was donated to the Roman Catholic Church who established a Carmelite Monastery.
In 1957 Mr. and Mrs. Blake deeded their house and garden to the University of California, “reserving unto themselves and the survivor of them the right to occupy the property for life.” With the death of Mr. Blake in 1959 and Mrs. Blake in 1962, the house and garden passed to the University. The decision was made in 1967 that the house would be used as the official residence of the President of the University of California. The garden’s management was given to UC Berkeley’s Department of Landscape Architecture as a resource for its programs.
The garden has been used as an outdoor laboratory for plant identification, planting design, the study of problems in spatial relationships, and other studies in landscape architecture and environmental design since the 1960s. Under the guidance of succeeding directors such projects as surveying, mapping, and photographing the site, as well as cataloging plants, have been undertaken.
Blake Garden continues to serve as an important resource for students studying plant identification and garden design. It is valued for its substantial collection of over 1,200 species of established plant material. Blake Garden offers visitor access and volunteer programs for the general public, as well as work study programs and internships through the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Design.
- The “Blake Estate Oral History Project” was produced by the Bancroft Library & the Regional Oral History Office. The interviews were conducted by Suzanne B. Riess in 1986-1987.
- The Environmental Design archives at the College of Environmental Design hold many Blake Estate papers, letters, photographs and maps. This link has a list, along with brief descriptions of the holdings: Blake Estate holdings in the CED Library.
- The El Cerrito Historical Society has an article that discusses Anson Blake’s quarrying activities in El Cerrito: El Cerrito Quarry History.
- A brochure about the Blake House was created for Mrs. Hitch (wife of former UC President Charles Hitch, the first UC President to live in the House). The text for the brochure was prepared by Igor & Elizabeth Blake. Igor Blake is the son of Robert Pierpont Blake and nephew of Anson Stiles Blake. Currently the Blake Estate does not not serve as the residence of the UC President. Blake Garden Map & Brochure 2019.