Ghostly branches of a cottonwood in spring.

In late spring and early summer the branches of a cottonwood tree can become very ghostly!

I walked under a Fremont cottonwood by the San Diego River this morning. My eyes were intrigued by the windblown white “cotton” that had collected on its own gray limbs and branches.

Check out the upcoming photos. Those drooping white puffs that resemble cotton candy are actually a fruit called achene. Seeds are dispersed by the wind.

I’m no botanist, so I don’t pretend to understand much about it.

I do know, however, that these seeds can plant themselves in a fertile imagination. The cottonwood’s fuzzed branches appear ethereal, like phantom forms from some unearthly world…

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!

Bright yellow bursts of evening primrose!

This morning by the San Diego River I saw huge bursts of yellow flowers. It’s late spring–that time of year when Hooker’s evening primrose blooms!

Enjoy some photos!

(If you’re curious about that little red structure in the last two photographs, it’s the USGS stream gaging station at Fashion Valley. It contrasts nicely with the reddish stems and bright yellows!)

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!

Old Town State Park expansion nears completion!

This morning I walked around the north end of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. I wanted to check out the progress that has been made with the State Park’s big expansion.

Old Town’s new outdoor interpretative area is beautiful and appears to be nearing completion!

I took photos of the area under construction four months ago and posted them here. You can definitely see the progress!

This large plot of land where the old Caltrans building used to be–at the corner of Juan Street and Taylor Street–is being converted into an inviting space that is alive with native vegetation and historical exhibits. Visitors walking along various pathways will have the opportunity to learn about the life and culture of the Native American Kumeyaay people. The Kumeyaay lived here by the San Diego River long before Europeans arrived.

The California State Parks website refers to this outdoor space as Land of the First People Exhibit Area—called Iipay ~ Tipai Kumeyaay Mut Niihepok.

As I circled the construction site fence, I noticed many plaques have been installed. I’ll be eager to read them once this area opens to the public.

This is what I saw…

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 water saving demonstration landscape in La Mesa.

If you live in San Diego and love having a beautiful, lush garden in your yard, but also want to save water, there’s a fine demonstration landscape full of drought tolerant native plants, trees and flowers you can check out in La Mesa. The demonstration landscape can be found on two sides of the Helix Water District building at 7811 University Avenue.

I enjoyed looking at the demonstration garden last weekend and took photographs. According to a sign, water can be saved by not only planting vegetation native to the San Diego region, or well suited to our arid climate, but by installing a drip irrigation system under a layer of mulch to prevent evaporation. A smart irrigation controller can adjust watering times based on the weather.

Having such a WaterSmart landscape can help “beautiful plants and trees thrive on half, a third, or a fifth of the water a traditional lawn needs.”

If you can’t make it to La Mesa, go to the Helix Water Districts’ website and check out their Sustainable Landscape page here. You’ll find lots of great ideas, including numerous plants that you might use!

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!

Seeds of knowledge Sprout at a library!

Symbolic public art stands at the entrance to the City of San Diego North University Community Branch Library. The sculpture is titled Sprout.

Sprout was created by artist Blue McRight in 2007, the year the library opened.

The unique stainless steel sculpture is in the shape of a tender seedling about to rise up from the earth. Scattered on its two new leaves are many letters. Should this young plant grow and flourish, simple words would surely appear upon it, and its words would multiply.

With a little imagination you can see how Sprout’s small seed, given time and proper care, would produce a full grown tree of knowledge.

That’s what happens in a library, right?

At night the letters light up, which is something I have not yet experienced.

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 beauty of blooming Cleveland Sage.

I took these beautiful photos of blooming Cleveland Sage near the San Diego River this fine spring day.

Our city’s California coastal sage and chaparral habitat is home to several native species of sage, but none, in my opinion, is more pleasing to the senses than Cleveland Sage, sometimes called Fragrant Sage–for good reason!

The Cleveland Sage bursts with purple flowers from April to August. Few local wildflowers are more showy. In the hot days of summer the hardy perennial will appear dried out and scraggly, but the perfume lives on.

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!

Nature and art at Chollas Creekside Park.

Nature’s beauty and fine public art can be enjoyed at Chollas Creekside Park, located in southeast San Diego’s Chollas View neighborhood. The curved linear park, which preserves important natural habitat in an urban setting, can be found near the northwest corner of Market Street and Euclid Avenue.

A couple weekends ago I visited this beautiful community park for the first time and, by using the pedestrian bridge over Chollas Creek, walked the pathways along both sides of the dry creek bed.

I saw spring flowers. I saw new green leaves. I saw many birds.

I also paused to admire the Chollas Realm Gateways at either end of the park. The public artwork was created by local artist Roman de Salvo and installed in the summer of 2019.

At the center of Chollas Creekside Park, I circled Visualize Biodiversity. The 10-foot Corten sculpture is shaped like a barrel cactus. Patterns of butterflies and insects around its circumference light up at night. Created by artist Deedee Morrison, it was also installed in 2019.

You’ll see in my photos that I also climbed up to a lookout point above Chollas Creek, where there’s a great view of the entire park. With a little imagination one can visualize the surrounding area as it was before the city sprang up and streets and buildings covered the landscape.

Chollas Creek and Chollas View take their name from the Cholla cactus. Cholla were numerous here, once upon a time.

Chollas Realm Gateway, by artist Roman de Salvo, 2019.
Birds of Chollas Creek include California gnatcatcher, red-tailed hawk, Bell’s vireo, and cactus wren.
Visualize Biodiversity, by artist Deedee Morrison, 2019.
Plants of Chollas Creek include California buckwheat, California sunflower, lemonadeberry, and California sycamore.
Mammals of Chollas Creek include coyote, gray fox, desert cottontail, and big brown bat.
Benefits of creek restoration include cleaner water, reduced flooding and preservation of wildlife habitat along a riparian corridor.

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!

Spring sunflowers by the San Diego River.

Large patches of bright yellow sunflowers can now be enjoyed along the San Diego River!

It’s springtime!

The native Bush Sunflower (also known as California brittlebush or Encelia californica) grows throughout San Diego’s coastal sage scrub habitat, and can be seen almost anywhere you go–on hillsides, in canyons, by sidewalks–at least where they haven’t been crowded out by invasive crown daisies.

Fortunately, the banks of the San Diego River support thriving native vegetation, and patches of California bush sunflowers are numerous.

I walked along a short segment of the San Diego River Trail in Mission Valley today and captured these photographs.

The newly opened T & C Neighborhood Park adjacent to the Town and Country resort was carefully planted with native vegetation, and I found many bush sunflowers blooming along its pathways!

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!

How to create a wildlife-friendly backyard!

I saw this great information on how to create a wildlife-friendly backyard and thought I’d share it! These four ideas were posted in a trailhead kiosk at Mission Trail Regional Park.

  1. Grow plants that provide wildlife with a natural food source such as nuts, berries or nectar, or add backyard feeders.
  2. Provide water for wildlife with a birdbath, small pond or shallow dish.
  3. Offer protective cover for wildlife by providing ground cover, a hollow log or rock piles, dense shrubs or a roosting box.
  4. Provide places for wildlife to raise their young, such as a water garden, pond or nesting box.

If you’d like to watch the birds and animals without them being spooked, or perhaps take close-up photographs, consider building a blind from which you can watch your wild visitors!

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!

Historical marker at Kate Sessions nursery in Pacific Beach.

If you’ve driven down Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach, you might have noticed a couple of enormous old trees at the corner of Pico Street, just east of Soledad Mountain Road.

By the sidewalk stands an easily overlooked historical marker. It reads:

KATE OLIVIA SESSIONS’ NURSERY SITE

1857-1940

THIS PLAQUE COMMEMORATES THE LIFE AND INFLUENCE OF A WOMAN WHO ENVISIONED SAN DIEGO BEAUTIFUL. ON THIS SITE SHE OPERATED A NURSERY AND GAINED WORLD RENOWN AS A HORTICULTURIST. SHE WAS THE FIRST WOMAN TO RECEIVE THE INTERNATIONAL MEYER MEDAL IN GENETICS.

CALIFORNIA REGISTERED HISTORICAL LANDMARK NO. 764

PLAQUE PLACED BY THE CALIFORNIA STATE PARK COMMISSION IN COOPERATION WITH THE PACIFIC BEACH WOMAN’S CLUB.

JULY 7, 1961

Kate Sessions is probably best known as the Mother of Balboa Park. In addition to owning other nurseries and growing fields in San Diego, she maintained a small nursery in a corner of Balboa Park (originally called City Park) under an 1892 agreement with the City of San Diego. She was required under the lease to plant 100 trees in the park each year. Most of the older trees in Balboa Park that you see today were planted by her hand.

The colorful jacaranda trees seen around San Diego were also introduced to the city by Kate Sessions.

I recently blogged about the very first camphor tree planted in North America. She’s the one who planted it. The historic camphor tree stands just west of Balboa Park in Bankers Hill near a beautiful historic house. To revisit that old blog post, click here.

Here are a couple more photos that I took this weekend by the historical marker…

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!