Monday, May 17, 2010

San Diego Botanical Gardens

There's a long serendipitous story about the photos I'm about to show you. I'd been thinking of this place I'd been to in San Diego long ago called Quail Botanical Gardens. I was hoping to convince Lisa and Joli to find and go there with me again when I was down there a few weeks ago but it just didn't work out. On my way home, driving up I-5, I pulled off at an exit, spied a sign for "San Diego Botanical Gardens", decided to check it out, discovered it was the renamed Quail gardens, and that I had just happened to stumble on it on their monthly free entrance day. How could I resist!

When I'd visited it about fifteen years ago it was a lovely garden but in the intervening years it's grown into an absolutely awe inspiring grounds that would require many return visits to see it all. In two and a half hours I managed to barely, briskly, walk the contours of it.

You might want to grab a refreshing beverage before you go on a rather lengthy cyber stroll through them with me. Water bottles ready? (Wine? Well, uhm, sure.) This is just a few of the photos I snapped, there were virtually dozens of views, hundreds of close up possibilities, every few footsteps.

Bananas on the tree. Or maybe they were plantains. It's fun to think about places where banana trees are just ordinary garden plants. I remember the first time northern Wisconsin and Minnesota bred me saw oranges ON A TREE! I was eighteen. I was amazed.

A nice couple took my photo in front of some Dr. Seuss looking succulents.

This is a vignette from an area that was meant to look like undersea plant life. It did seem very ocean garden-y. I found myself humming "Under the Sea", thinking my Little Mermaid loving granddaughter would love it.

My grandkids would love most of the garden. There were two areas designed just for children. This literary rabbit was reading in the older children's area.

I wished I could bring this colorful froggy home to live in my garden.

On a windy day I bet these sparkled and twirled. They were pretty even when they were still.

Even this storage/potting shed was capped with a garden roof of succulents.

There were many epiphytes (plants that grow on other plants) in the garden.

This central gazebo was a popular resting spot. There were so many interesting people sitting under the shade of that tree, it reminded me of a number of Impressionist paintings.

A cork tree! There were about a half dozen of these strange looking creatures.

The newer children's area was large enough to entertain a child all day long. It covered an entire hillside. This was a child's size labyrinth. I walked it of course.

This climbing "tree" was far more realistic looking than I could capture in a photograph. It was really a structure that was built but had real plants hanging (out of reach of little hands I assume) on the outside. I seriously need to come back with a kid so I can climb up into it myself.

There were a number of waterfalls, this is just one view of one of them.

I really loved these eyeball trees but they seemed to be a little annoyed at me in return.

A green lady tending her babies.

Another lady relaxing with a green friend. Can you see her green friend? On the chair to her right?

Summed up nicely already.

A green craftsman. At least that's who he seemed to be to me.

"Their queen had torn her green gown and bared a shoulder white
White as the May that crowned her
And all the minstrels round her
Tilted back their crimson hats and sang for sheer delight," - Lyrics from Merry May Folk by Emerald Rose

This uprooted gnarl seemed to be alive to me as well - can't you see the goblins and gnomes and knobby knuckled tree creatures hiding in it? Maybe even a monster or two!

These cacti looked vaguely reminiscent of something too. I'll just let you and your own imagination go where you will with this one.

Another Dr. Suess scene.

One forgets how beautiful and colorful the desert can be.

This hidden lily pond was another favorite with the little kids. I witnessed a half dozen mothers negotiating "five more minutes and we are leaving" with stubborn preschoolers.

Who can blame them when the place was alight with so many friendly creatures. Fishies. Dragonflies. This red fellow looks like he's smiling.

And several of the biggest, greenest frogs I've seen since my childhood. They were very used to people, I took this photograph really close up, I don't think I even used a bit of telephoto lens for it.

A very cool bamboo forest. The effect was sort of ruined by the yellow roping but I can understand the need for it. Some people don't seem to understand the whole "stay on the path" concept.

If you want to find out more, visit the garden's website here. If you live close enough to visit, they have festivals (including a chocolate festival and a fairy festival!) as well as classes and events of all kinds. Check out some botanical close ups I saved to share over at Laume's Studio.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

One Weed at a Time

Our front gardens have been benignly neglected for a number of years now. Oh, we water, pull out dried branches, rake, pull a few weeds. But plants have died out and other plants have taken over entire sections and it's all just a big green mess, albeit a pretty one that still blooms alot. The whole thing is rather overwhelming so we're tackling it one small section at a time.

One of the newer problems is a strip between the original garden strip beneath the retaining wall and the sidewalks. It was created when they put in the sidewalks a few years ago. Before that it was just hard dirt and was where we parked instead of parking on the road. It was filled in by the road crew, overfilled actually, with leftover dirt, sand, and chunks of asphalt. And in the last couple of summers weeds have taken over.

There are two strips. The longest one, which you see above to give you a "before" image, runs to the left of the front walkway.

The shorter by about half the other side (33 feet in length I believe) runs to the right between the walkway and driveway. There's also a short bit on the other side of the driveway which I didn't photograph.

We spent the last week digging, watering, weeding, removing asphalt and rocks, adding compost, and finally laying this hodgepodge of collected stepping stones and pretty rocks and planting groundcovers. What a difference! Of course I still have to weed and return to splendor the top planter layer but, as I mentioned, taking this enormous project on in smaller steps.

The plan is for the groundcover (there's also some seeds tossed) to take over and keep the weeds down. I've used plants that can take a bit of stepping on and added the stepping stones for visual appeal and to make the back strip more accessible. The morning after I took this photo, a herd of deer walked through and left deep (in the now softened dirt) prints. Sigh. I might have to stick some twirly shiny things in the row to discourage a repeat.

This is one of my favorite pieces, it's from a stack of granite countertop samples my son in the building industry gifted to me.

Since we're just starting to come into our green season up here in the mountains, I'll leave you with this beautiful garden photo I snapped just down the street from my son's house, down in the valley. Irises are a month or two away from blooming here!