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!

Beauty at San Diego Cactus and Succulent show!

There’s plenty of beauty to enjoy this weekend in Balboa Park, at the San Diego Cactus and Succulent Society’s Winter Show and Sale!

The public is invited to check out tables full of amazing displays inside Room 101 of the Casa del Prado. There are jewel-like flowers, exotic species, and bizarre plant forms will make you look twice!

If you’d like to take a potted cactus or succulent home, there’s also a big sale in the Casa del Prado’s outdoor courtyard.

Learn more here!

This is some of the beauty you’ll see…

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!

Building a beautiful waterfall in San Diego!

A couple months ago I blogged about a big new waterfall that is coming to the Japanese Friendship Garden in San Diego’s beautiful Balboa Park.

Yesterday I swung by again and noticed huge progress has been made creating the waterfall!

The step-like watercourse is being readied. Large boulders have been placed where the water will descend through the Lower Garden to the existing bridge, waterfall and koi pond by the Inamori Pavilion. Many smaller rocks will surely follow.

If you’d like to compare photos, click here for what I saw in late November.

UPDATE!

During a later visit, I noticed stairs are being built in the canyon’s side. They climb beside the waterfall. It appears there will be a viewing area up above!

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!

Beauty at the Meditation Gardens in Encinitas.

Some of the most beautiful gardens in San Diego County can be found in Encinitas. I visited one of those gardens this weekend.

The Meditation Gardens at Self-Realization Fellowship is a quiet retreat for those who like to walk or sit quietly in a place where the mind can find peace and the spirit, inspiration.

Pathways wind through a lush, carefully tended world. Benches in green nooks invite rest and reflection. There are exotic plants, trees and flowers, ponds filled with bright koi, and breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. Like distant poetry, surfers far below ride the curling rhythmic waves of Swami’s.

The Meditation Gardens recently reopened after a long closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Visitors to the garden, as the Self-Realization Fellowship website suggests, might discover “a greater realization of the Divine Presence that lies within.”

The amazing garden is free to the public.

Enjoy a sample of its beauty…

This is the site of the Golden Lotus Temple, built in 1937. Here thousands came to services conducted by Paramahansa Yogananda… In 1942 cliff erosion made the temple unstable and later it had to be dismantled…

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!

New flowers in Balboa Park’s Alcazar Garden!

It looks like the Garden Stewards of Balboa Park have been busy in the Alcazar Garden!

I walked through Balboa Park today and discovered rows of beautiful, newly planted flowers in several areas of the garden. As you can see in my photos, it appears the larger sections will soon be planted, too!

A couple days ago I got an email newsletter from Forever Balboa Park that talked about this project. But, alas, it appears that email got deleted. So if it mentioned what sort of flowers these are, I don’t have the information.

If you know more about flowers than me (which means practically everybody), and you recognize what these are, leave a comment with your observation!

And if you’d like to volunteer to help beautify Balboa Park, San Diego’s magnificent crown jewel, here’s the website you need to check out!

UPDATE!

Days later, I noticed more flowers planted!

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!