Exploring the Tree Fern Dell and Lily Pond in Golden Gate Park
If you’re visiting San Francisco and looking for a serene and unique natural escape, make sure to include a visit to the Tree Fern Dell and Lily Pond in Golden Gate Park on your itinerary. These hidden gems offer a glimpse into the city’s historical and botanical richness.
Tree Fern Dell: A Journey Through Time
As you step into the Tree Fern Dell, you’ll feel like you’ve entered a prehistoric world. Located along JFK Drive opposite the Conservatory of Flowers, this shaded garden is a stark contrast to the sunny Conservatory Valley. The exotic ambiance of this place is reminiscent of a dinosaur garden, filled with towering Tasmanian tree ferns. These ferns, native to Australia and New Zealand, were introduced to the park in the late 19th century, thanks to the efforts of John McLaren, the park’s visionary superintendent.
The Mescaline Grove
Over the years, the dell has earned the nickname “Mescaline Grove,” a testament to its otherworldly appearance. It’s a place where you can immerse yourself in the primeval, a far cry from the bustling city just beyond the park’s borders.
A Historical Mystery
The origins of this unique collection are somewhat mysterious, but it’s believed to have evolved under John McLaren’s guidance. The grove features mostly Tasmanian tree ferns, which have a fascinating fossil record dating back millions of years, surviving through mass extinctions. They are living relics of Earth’s ancient history.
- Location: The Tree Fern Dell is conveniently located across JFK Drive from the Conservatory of Flowers.
Lily Pond: A Quaint Oasis
A Historic Quarry Turned Paradise
The Lily Pond, once a quarry opened in 1871, is now a picturesque oasis in Golden Gate Park. It served as a source of chert rock for paving the park’s paths, but as the quarrying activity ceased, it transformed into Cook’s Lake in 1902. Back then, peacocks roamed the area, adding to its charm.
Enchanted by Nature
The Lily Pond was once home to ducks, turtles, and water lilies, creating a delightful natural environment. The towering escarpment on its north side provides a stunning backdrop, making it a favorite spot for park-goers.
A Touch of Fantasy
Adding to the magical atmosphere is the presence of Chilean rhubarb, creating an enchanting thicket around the base of the tree ferns. This combination of elements blurs the lines between reality and fantasy, making it an ideal setting for cinematic adventures, like the final scene of “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.”
A Historic Name
Interestingly, workers during the 1894 Midwinter Fair affectionately referred to this area as “Hobo Lake,” using it as a resting place during their lunch breaks.
When you visit the Tree Fern Dell and Lily Pond, you’re not just experiencing nature; you’re delving into the rich history and imagination of Golden Gate Park. These hidden treasures are a testament to the city’s commitment to preserving the past while offering visitors a unique and enchanting experience. Don’t miss out on this magical journey through time and nature during your San Francisco adventure!
Info by SF Rec and Park Department