Birds, Bees, Flowers and Trees in Balboa Park!

A very cool event was held in Balboa Park today. Birds, Bees, Flowers and Trees, presented by the San Diego Floral Association, filled El Prado, a nearby segment of Village Place, and the Casa del Prado courtyard!

The fun, educational event featured gardening information, organizations working to protect the environment, creative kids activities, plant sales, and fascinating displays provided by different San Diego garden clubs and associations!

I walked along, taking it all in. One thing I learned is that Kate Sessions, Mother of Balboa Park, was a co-founder of the San Diego Floral Association! (That would explain my final two photographs.) Oh–I also learned the new waterfall at the Japanese Friendship Garden should be operating in a matter of a couple weeks!

The Birds, Bees, Flowers and Trees event is today only, until 4 pm. As I post this blog, you still have a little over a half hour to check it out!

If you couldn’t make it, enjoy these pics…

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Community members tidy Tweet Street park!

The Friends of Tweet Street Park were at it again this morning!

Many community volunteers had gathered at Cortez Hill’s Tweet Street linear park to tidy up and beautify a special corner of the neighborhood!

They were assisted by two friendly members of downtown San Diego’s Clean and Safe program.

As I hurried off to a morning appointment, I snapped a couple pics of the work crew getting started. When I walked past again around noon, oh, what a difference! The planted areas were more beautiful than ever!

If you want to join these good people or help them out, check out their Facebook page here!

Thank you for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often, so you might want to bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and check back from time to time.

You can explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on this website’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There’s a lot of stuff to share and enjoy!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Orchids in the Park returns to San Diego!

The San Diego County Orchid Society is hosting their summer Orchids in the Park show and sale in Balboa Park this weekend!

I was drawn to Room 101 in the Casa del Prado once I saw a sign pointing to the popular free event.

The show’s many tables were overflowing with orchids in many shapes, sizes and colors. Every flower was like a perfect jewel.

I found so many examples of nature’s beauty (tended by the caring hands of society members), that I had to capture a little bit of it with my camera…

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

A special little garden in the Gaslamp.

In San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, near the south end of Fifth Avenue, you’ll find a very special garden. Located in the public plaza often referred to as Gaslamp Square, the tiny garden beautifies the front of the Tin Fish restaurant.

A plaque explains why the garden is special.

It states:

THIS TINY GARDEN IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF MICHAEL PATRICK BROWN, WHO LOVED LIFE AND TRIED TO MAKE THIS SPACE BEAUTIFUL. IT IS ALSO DEDICATED TO ALL VICTIMS OF PANCREATIC CANCER.

Those who find joy in the small garden are urged to go to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, which is here. One can donate in Mike’s name.

Michael operated the popular Tin Fish Gaslamp for many years. It’s a place where many happy memories have been made.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Get a Free Tree in front of your home or building!

Looking back west toward downtown. Many jacaranda trees line San Diego's streets. A man waits at a bus stop.

Would you like to have a beautiful, shady “street tree” planted in front of your home or building in San Diego?

There’s a city program called Free Tree SD that will plant a tree in the public right-of-way between your sidewalk and street, if arborists determine its a good spot with plenty of soil, and you promise to water the new tree for several years.

I just learned about this green program and thought some of you might be interested. Learn all the details on the City of San Diego website by clicking here!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Open House tour of San Diego’s Waterfront Park.

Last Sunday I enjoyed a fascinating tour of Waterfront Park in San Diego. The special public tour was part of the 2022 San Diego Architectural Foundation’s Open House event.

Our small group was guided by Glen and Jeff of Schmidt Design Group, landscape architects who worked on the Waterfront Park project almost ten years ago. The park opened to the public in 2014. (I was there for the big grand opening! You can see many photographs taken during that historic day by clicking here!)

As we walked around the beautiful park, where two large parking lots originally existed, we learned so many facts I failed to jot many down!

I did note that the two stretches of fountains on either side of the County Administration Building together are 830 feet long. The fountain design was tricky, because the water in the basin where children jump and play could be only one inch deep, due to safety concerns. The fountains utilize an 80,000 gallon water tank, and the 31 jets spray water 12 to 14 feet high.

The fountains were to be set in marble, but to save tens of millions of dollars, specially applied concrete made to look like marble was utilized instead.

The parking garage under the south end of Waterfront Park is below the water table (San Diego Bay is a block to the west), and consequently various innovative measures were taken to keep water from seeping in. I was surprised that, like the nearby County Administration Building, piles were driven 100 feet deep into bedrock to support and stabilize the structure!

The “hill” with a slide in the wonderful, very popular playground was built up with high density foams blocks. (The same hill referred to as Tony Gwynn’s opposing “pitching mound” when the park’s sculptures by Niki de Saint Phalle debuted back in 2015. See those fun photos here!)

One bit of information really surprised me. There had initially been plans to install Dr. Seuss sculptures around the playground! The Grinch and his dog Max were to stand atop the hill. The Cat in the Hat would welcome kids near the fountain area. Our group didn’t hear why that plan fell through.

We did learn how, during Waterfront Park’s construction, large old palm trees and the San Diego County Law Enforcement Memorial were moved. We saw the bits of shining, sparkling mica that were placed in the concrete around the memorial.

We learned how the large garden at the north end of the park was designed to be a beautiful, contemplative area. And, indeed, it is.

The garden is divided into three sections. The north “grass” or “meadow” garden with 15 varieties of grass; the middle Mediterranean garden with sages, rosemary, lavender and Torrey pines; and the south “tropical” or “diversity” garden, with plumeria, bird of paradise and many other lush plants.

Irrigation for the park requires 8 million gallons per year! But this free, very popular “water park” serves hundreds of thousands of San Diego residents every year, many arriving by trolley from less affluent neighborhoods.

Lastly, we learned how the County of San Diego will soon be removing the garden, and replacing it with a dog park, basketball and pickleball courts, and other recreational amenities. I suppose the change is both sad and exciting. As they say, there are two sides to every coin.

I’ll be watching the progress of that project and will probably be taking photos in the future!

This is where the proposed Cat in the Hat sculpture would have stood!
Donal Hord’s iconic Guardian of Water sculpture stands in the background. Learn a little more about it here.
The present location of the San Diego County Law Enforcement Memorial.
Part of the Waterfront Park garden. The large garden will be removed to make way for sports facilities.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Cherry blossoms, like a dream, in Balboa Park!

It’s late February. Many cherry blossoms have already opened in Balboa Park’s beautiful Japanese Friendship Garden!

I walked in the Lower Garden today. I moved slowly down the path that wanders through the grove of Japanese cherry trees, and it was like a dream.

Many souls were wandering among the new blossoms, drinking in nature’s beauty.

JFG’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival is just a couple weekends away, from March 11th to 13th.

Spring with its promise of renewal must be approaching!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Balboa Park’s community Christmas tree grows!

A new community Christmas tree was planted in Balboa Park a little over two years ago, across from the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. It has visibly grown!

Back in 2016, the fragile, droopy, 35-year-old Community Christmas Tree that stood in this same location no longer held lights during the holiday season. I took a photo of the sadly misshapen old cedar during Christmas on the Prado:

In late 2019 a new young tree was planted! I posted a photograph of it here. Now, for contrast, I’ll share that pic again:

Yesterday I noticed the promising young tree has grown quite a lot! Check it out:

I know, it’s odd that I’m posting these photos in late February, with war raging in Ukraine, but during my walk yesterday I also encountered a new Peace Pole that has been installed by the International Cottages.

And it occurred to me: doesn’t a growing Christmas tree also represent Life and Hope for our shared future?

One coming December, perhaps this next one, San Diego’s growing community Christmas tree will light up for its first time. And that age-old message will shine forth once again: On Earth peace, good will toward men…

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

The surprising Coral Reef Garden at Scripps!

There’s a surprising garden on the campus of Scripps Institution of Oceanography. It’s called The McReynolds Family Coral Reef Garden.

Desert cacti and succulents planted among rocks strongly resemble an ocean’s underwater coral reef!

This isn’t coincidental. I read several information signs around the Coral Reef Garden and learned how two very different environments are alike in many respects.

You can view this fantastic garden for yourself by walking along the Scripps Coastal Meander Trail, where it heads down Biological Grade. Look for it by the Eckart Building.

Fascinated? Read more about this very unique coral reef-inspired garden here!

As I explored the garden, I saw this plaque by a bench. It reads:

Ricky Grigg

Big Wave Surfer

PhD Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Pioneer Coral Reef Ecologist

Devoted his life to the sea and all it’s [sic] splendor

Two different ecosystems compared: a coral reef and a desert environment. Harsh habitat and abundant life. A seeming contradiction called Darwin’s Paradox.
The fore reef, with its many ridges and channels, contains the greatest diversity of corals, fishes, invertebrates and algae.
At the reef drop off, deeper, less turbulent water allows corals to grow taller and make more intricate shapes. Much like plants not subject to strong winds!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Huge hole in Balboa Park’s Botanical Building!

Walk around the Balboa Park’s historic Botanical Building and you might do a double take. Because a huge hole is now open at the east end, allowing people to look into the monumental building’s interior!

I paused for a moment and took these photos over the construction fence. You can see how the old garden walkways have vanished, leaving the trees and plants rising from bare soil.

If you’d like to read about the Botanical Building and Gardens Restoration and Enhancement Project, and see artist renderings and historical photographs, click here.

Much of the work will repair damage “due to termite damage, rust and deferred maintenance.” The iconic Botanical Building will be restored to its original 1915 appearance. Amenities will also be added, like new restrooms, and a historically recreated pergola near its west end.

The Botanical Building is one of four structures built for the 1915 Panama California Exposition that were meant to be permanent. But after more than a century, a little tender loving care for one of the largest wood lath structures in the world is required!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!