In the California garden.
Juncus patens growing under Ribes sp. I love this, and if I grew this combo in my garden, I'd leave it just like that. But in the Bot Garden, I want them to clean it up. Is that strange? Maybe you think I'd want my garden to be tidier than a public garden. No. I want my garden to look wild and untamed, so why do I want to see the juncus divided and the ribes pruned? (I don't know.)
Ribes is a good plant for winter interest because it drops 1-3 inch long pannicles of pink or white flowers from December through March which feed hummingbirds. The flowers become dark berries (said to taste "insipid") that birds love. Books also say the leaves smell "resinous". I've seen that word a lot, and I believe it's garden-speak for "smells like cat pee".
The Juncus is riparian and forms sharp tips that can poke your eye out, but won't hurt your skin with ordinary handling. You just have to be careful working with it so it doesn't poke your eye.
On of my favorite California trees, the buckeye (Aesculus californica). It's dormant most of the year. But in the spring and early summer, it has one of California's most wonderful, fragrant flowers. This is an uncommonly large specimen of buckeye, and it's very old for the species. A few days/weeks ago the Wall Street Journal had a front page article about an arborist who believed with proper care, any tree can live forever. In the wild, buckeyes usually peter out before the century mark. And as much as I love this particular tree (and I do--look at it!), it doesn't flower or leaf out as pleasingly as a younger tree would.
A late flower on Romneya coulteri, under Pinus ponderosa. Romneya is one of California's three most prominent members of the Papaveraceae (the poppy family). This one grows 5-8 feet tall and blooms all summer. It spreads underground and forms expanding thickets. It a home garden of ordinary size, it should be cut to the ground after its seasonal bloom. It will begin regrowing immediately.