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!

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!

A tour of Olivewood Gardens in National City.

Yesterday I enjoyed an awesome tour of Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center in National City.

As you will see in my photographs, Olivewood Gardens is a very special place.

It’s a green paradise in the middle of an urban setting, where students, families and neighbors learn about organic gardening and good nutrition. Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center is the destination of school field trips, where city kids can experience the virtues of a vegetable garden, being active outdoors, and environmental stewardship. There are also classes where parents learn how to prepare healthy meals, and how to become leaders in their community.

Graduates of Olivewood’s Cooking for Salud program are called Kitchenistas. They are integral participants in this non-profit organization’s educational programs. The Kitchenistas, through a Community Engagement Program, proudly work to improve the well-being of families throughout National City!

Patty Corona, the Cooking for Salud Coordinator, showed me all around Olivewood Gardens. We toured most of the grounds and checked out several demonstration gardening areas. We then walked through Olivewood’s historic Victorian house and its kitchen, which serve as the hub for a variety of fun events and educational activities.

In 2006, the beautiful 1896 Queen Anne style house and surrounding gardens were generously donated by the Walton family to the International Community Foundation “with the goal of leveraging the property to engage, grow, and promote healthy communities and dialogue through civic engagement and philanthropy in the San Diego-Baja California border region.” Through their own personal experiences, the Waltons understood the importance of eating healthy foods.

Learn more about the history of ICF and Olivewood Gardens, and the positive programs that are offered to the community, by visiting their website here.

Please enjoy these photographs from my tour! And read the photo captions for much more information.

I was excited to discover this small paradise in San Diego’s South Bay area, where gardens flourish, the sun shines, and nature’s beauty and healthy people thrive!

A view of Olivewood Garden’s beautiful Victorian house from N Avenue in National City.
One of many works of art gracing Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center.
Various signs near the the late 19th century house provide visitors with information.
Oliver H. Noyes, National City postmaster (and retired senator from New Hampshire), built this Victorian house for his family in 1896. They sold it in 1947 to the Newlan family, who sold it to John and Christy Walton in 1985…
In July 2006, Christy Walton donated her former home and garden to the International Community Foundation to increase cross-border dialogue and philanthropy…
An area of the garden north of the house where school students gather, experience and learn.
Beds with growing vegetables, where young hands can work in the earth.
Look at all the healthy veges growing in this organic garden!
When I was young, my family had a large vegetable garden. Simply standing here brought back happy memories.
More surprising artwork in the garden. A stunning mosaic depicts colorful flowers.
Here’s a small succulent garden, demonstrating native plants.
Mural on a garden shed is bright with fruits and vegetables. By artist Brianna Perkins.
Don’t hog the water. Think several generations ahead.
Many butterflies like these, decorated differently, can be found in parks around National City. They were created by artist Roberto Salas, the Kitchenistas, and families from around the community.
As we walked along, I spied these sunlit roses.
A closer look at the beautiful sculpture you saw earlier from the street. It’s titled Reina de los Mares (Queen of the Seas), by artist Rocio Sánchez.
Walking through a lush green world.
We’ve arrived at another larger garden south of the house.

A sign describes Lukas’ garden…

When the Walton family lived here, their son Lukas was diagnosed with cancer at the age of three. When his cancer returned…his parents decided to treat him with herbs, juices, and produce they grew themselves. They made changes to their garden, growing all their food organically (with no chemicals) and biodynamically (by building healthy, living soil).

Lukas graduated from college, cancer-free in 2010.

A funny mural painted by the chicken coop.
Olivewood Gardens is filled with natural beauty.
A nursery on the grounds, overlooking National City Golf Course.
Taking a trail few other visitors travel.
On the hill above the golf course, Olivewood Gardens is growing dragon fruit! These interesting cacti are indigenous to the Americas.
Delight.
Making our way back to the Victorian house. This is where many classes, events and activities are held at Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center.
A mermaid sculpture beside the house.
Hand prints from the four members of the Walton family.
The kitchen area, where healthy cooking classes for students and parents take place.
Gorgeous stained glass window in the nearby dining room, where presentations to local teachers are also made.

The following few photos provide a taste of the house’s amazing interior decoration.

An old photograph in one room shows the house as it appeared over a century ago. Today the historic house remains in absolutely pristine condition.

Photograph of the Oliver H. Noyes home, circa 1900.
A smile at a very special place in National City!

Feeling inspired?

Do you want to volunteer, become an intern, learn gardening, take a cooking class, request a speaker, book a private event? Would you like to take steps toward becoming a community leader, so that you can create positive change?

Want to learn more?

Visit the Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center website 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!

Sister tree of Balboa Park’s Moreton Bay Fig!

Did you know the huge Moreton Bay Fig tree in Balboa Park, which stands near the San Diego Natural History Museum, has a sister tree in National City?

I was surprised to learn this when I visited Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center today!

According to one sign at Olivewood Gardens, their Moreton Bay Fig, which shades a demonstration vegetable garden, was also planted in Balboa Park for the 1915 Panama California Exposition. But years ago it was transplanted to National City, and now students and families visiting Olivewood Gardens can gather in its ample shade.

Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center is a wonderful place where people from around the community can learn about gardening, preparing healthy food, protecting the environment, and becoming civic leaders. It’s located on the expansive grounds of an historic home that was donated for this cause by its philanthropic former owners. I will be blogging more about Olivewood Gardens shortly.

I was given an incredible tour of wonders all around National City today, and I’ll be sharing lots of inspiring and beautiful photographs, so stay tuned!

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!

Firewall at the Solana Beach Fire Department.

Every night, fire appears in front of the Solana Beach Fire Department. The mysterious wall of glowing embers near the fire station might surprise motorists driving down Lomas Santa Fe Drive.

I walked past Firewall during the day and took these photos.

The simulated wall of embers, that lights up after dark, is a very unique piece of public art that debuted in 2019. It’s by artist Betsy Schulz.

In addition to the red, yellow and orange glass embers, there are beautiful fused-glass mosaic panels facing the sidewalk and street.

Amazing mosaics created by Betsy Schulz appear all over San Diego County. During my walks I’ve photographed many.

This public art sculpture and its small surrounding garden were created with the help of Van Dyke Landscape Architects, and the Solana Beach Civic and Historical Society and Garden Club.

I added contrast to some of these photos to bring out color in the mosaics.

Take a look!

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!

Painting the beauty of a Japanese garden.

Lower Pond – San Diego Japanese Friendship Garden, by artist Ronald Ray Reekers, oil on canvas.

How does one paint the beauty of a Japanese garden? The answer can be found at the Japanese Friendship Garden in San Diego’s Balboa Park.

“Visual Harmony in Japanese Gardens and the Beauty of Bonsai” is the title of the current exhibition in JFG’s Exhibit Hall.

Selected work by Southern California artist Ronald Ray Reekers is displayed, including oils, etchings, pastels and charcoal drawings.

What I found most interesting are written descriptions he provides of how to create bonsai and Japanese garden artwork. His art is driven by curiosity and passion.

If you’re an artist, you can visit his YouTube channel here. There are various technical demonstrations and lessons concerning Bonsai Drawing!

Shizuoka Shrine, by artist Ronald Ray Reekers, etching.
Viewing the art of Ronald Ray Reekers in the Exhibit Hall at the Japanese Friendship Garden.
Garden lantern, by artist Ronald Ray Reekers, oil on canvas.

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!

Big new waterfall coming to Balboa Park!

San Diego’s crown jewel, Balboa Park, is about to become even more amazing!

How?

A big new waterfall is under construction in the Lower Garden of the Japanese Friendship Garden!

I hadn’t walked down into the Lower Garden recently, so today when I saw the new waterfall being readied, I had to take photos!

As I understand it, from a conversation I had months ago, a small structure will be built beside this new water feature. Those walking down the nearby path will have the opportunity to grab a tea and possibly other refreshments.

A new footbridge will span this new stream. The water will continue on down to the existing waterfall by the Inamori Pavilion.

I can’t wait to see it all done!

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!

San Diego County Orchid Society’s amazing Fall Show.

The San Diego County Orchid Society had one of their flower shows in Balboa Park today. As I walked near the Casa del Prado, I noticed the Fall Show event sign, and my feet turned toward amazing natural beauty.

I love the many different gardening, art and craft shows that are held nearly every weekend in Balboa Park. But the Orchid Society‘s shows might be my favorite.

Want to know why?

Simply look at these photos from the 2021 “Orchids in the Park” Fall Show!

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!

Mosaic art and a tractor at Civita Gardens.

A community garden at Civita in Mission Valley features beautiful mosaic art and an old tractor at its entrance.

I made this fun discovery during a recent walk through the sprawling Civita residential community.

The agriculture themed mosaics decorate the gated entrance to Civita Gardens. Given the names and dates on the colorful, shaped ceramics, they appear to have been created in 2016.

The nearby tractor has a small sign indicating it’s a 1956 108L Junior Porsche Tractor.

I’ll have more photos taken at Civita coming up shortly.

Enjoy these!

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 fun Harvest Fair in Balboa Park!

A very fun Harvest Fair and Marketplace could be enjoyed today in Balboa Park!

The San Diego Floral Association hosted this annual event–which they call Birds, Bees, Flowers and Trees–at the Casa del Prado’s outdoor courtyards.

During my walk through Balboa Park, I lingered at this autumn festival to look about and meet some cool people.

This is what I discovered…

The family friendly event provided many educational opportunities.
Vendors had all sorts of unique crafts and art for sale.
Representatives from the organization Senior Gleaners pose for a photo. They’ll pick your fruit and donate to local agencies that feed the hungry. Or you can volunteer and help pick fruit!
Ikebana International had a table with some beautiful flower arrangements.
The San Diego Audubon Society was present. We talked about local estuaries, lagoons and feral parrots in my Cortez Hill neighborhood!
I learned there’s a College Area Community Garden in a canyon near San Diego State University.
These cool folks in costume were representing the San Diego Costume Guild!
The San Diego Beekeeping Society was showing this hive of bees. Hundreds of people around San Diego County keep bees. Many are hobbyists.
If you happen to come upon an injured parrot, call these friendly ladies at SoCalParrot.org. They perform urban wild parrot rescues.
The San Diego Floral Association had lots of helpful and interesting information on display.
The colorful Harvest Fair included a “Flower Power” floral design competition!

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!