Inspiration found in small scenes of beauty.

Whenever I forget to look closely at the world, I miss the hidden beauty. And the unexpected inspiration.

These photographs were all taken today at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park.

This special garden’s breathtaking beauty has inspired a several very short stories. I wrote A Short BloomThe Child and the Koi and Waterfall Tears while sitting quietly by the stream that bubbles through the canyon.

I hope these photos–these small scenes of beauty–inspire you, too.

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!

Do you love Balboa Park? Follow my special blog which I call Beautiful Balboa Park!

Do you enjoy beautiful things? Visit my other photography blog which I call A Small World Full of Beauty.

Refugee students learn job skills at city farm!

Refugee high school students grow and sell vegetables in North Park. They are Youth FarmWorks interns receiving a helping hand from the International Rescue Committee!
Refugee high school students grow and sell vegetables in North Park. They are Youth FarmWorks interns receiving a helping hand from the International Rescue Committee!

I was walking around North Park yesterday when I stumbled upon a small farm on a dirt lot north of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. I crossed 30th Street to see what was going on, and noticed a bunch of youth working the soil, and sitting at a table selling vegetables!

It turns out these super friendly new San Diego residents are refugees attending local high schools. As Youth FarmWorks interns they are learning job skills and gaining confidence in their new country. This urban farming project was created by the International Rescue Committee, which helps refugees adjust to life in the United States, where they are safe and free from persecution.

I was given a tour of the small farm by a super cool young man–he’s the guy who gave me a thumbs up in that first photo! He showed me the various vegetables they were growing, including different types of lettuce, beets, squash, cherry tomatoes, and much more. My tour was awesome!

Good luck to everyone!

Sign by the large vegetable garden reads Youth Farm Works - Job Training Urban Farm.
Sign by the large vegetable garden reads Youth Farm Works – Job Training Urban Farm.
Many large planters contain all sorts of growing vegetables.
Many large planters contain all sorts of growing vegetables.
Kids at work on the urban farm.
Students at work on the urban farm.
A very cool smile!
A very cool smile!

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!

Volunteers restore habitat in San Dieguito River Valley!

Hard-working volunteers remove non-native vegetation in a small part of the San Dieguito River Valley.
Hard-working volunteers remove invasive vegetation in a small area of the San Dieguito River Valley.

Today I happened upon a bunch of energetic volunteers working to restore habitat in the San Dieguito River Valley! They were removing non-native vegetation near the Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead!

Lots of invasive, rapidly growing wild mustard appeared to be the main problem. I also learned from a friendly San Dieguito River Park ranger that mustard is highly flammable, much more so than California coastal sage and chaparral plants that are native to our arid region.

Today’s work, coinciding with Family Volunteer Day, was an effort of several organizations, including the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy. Their mission is to implement the vision of the San Dieguito River Park, a greenway that stretches all the way from Volcan Mountain near Julian to Dog Beach in Del Mar! Their conservation and educational programs, along with their purchases of land in the River Park planning area, will ensure that the beautiful San Dieguito River Valley will be a rich and healthy natural treasure for many lifetimes to come!

Want to learn more? Or maybe get involved? Here’s their website!

This Saturday event was part of Family Volunteer Day, a worldwide day of service promoted by generationOn.
This Saturday event was part of Family Volunteer Day, a worldwide day of service promoted by generationOn.
Youth have fun while they work to make the Earth a healthier place.
Youth have fun while they work to make the Earth a healthier place.
A San Dieguito River Park ranger had brought many pots of native lemonade berry to plant.
A San Dieguito River Park ranger had brought many pots of native lemonade berry to plant.
Another perfect day to work outdoors and help the environment!
Another perfect day to work outdoors and help the environment!

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!

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The fantastic, amazing Harper’s Topiary Garden!

People ride past what is possibly the most amazing, fantastic front yard in all of San Diego!
People ride past what is possibly the most amazing, fantastic front yard in all of San Diego!

I walked through Middletown yesterday on a mission. I wanted to pay a visit to the locally famous Harper’s Topiary Garden!

What a fantastic, amazing creation! This private front yard on a hillside has been transformed by the residents into a eye-popping landscape of weird animals and delightful designs. I felt as though I’d stepped into a small world touched by magic.

This is one super cool sight that is undeniably extraordinary!

Human imagination coupled with passion can actually turn wildest dreams into reality!

Mission Hill Garden Club asks How Does Your Garden Grow? I'll bet it's nothing like the Harper's Topiary Garden!
Mission Hill Garden Club asks How Does Your Garden Grow? I’ll bet it’s nothing like the Harper’s Topiary Garden!
Harper's Topiary Garden seems to be a combination of a vegetable Noah's Ark and an army of unearthly creatures paralyzed by magic.
Harper’s Topiary Garden seems to be a combination of a vegetable Noah’s Ark and an army of fantasy creatures paralyzed by magic.
A green guy in a sombrero takes a siesta. Perhaps this is his dream.
A green guy in a sombrero takes a siesta. Perhaps this is his dream.
A funny rabbit stands and points among many topiary creatures.
A funny rabbit stands and points among many topiary oddities.
It appears that Edna Scissorhands is kept quite busy.
It appears that Edna Scissorhands is kept quite busy.
Harper's Topiary Garden is a marvel of human creativity.
Harper’s Topiary Garden is a marvel of human creativity.
Those who drive up this street might be in for a great surprise!
Those who drive up this street might be in for a great surprise!
Cats and critters with long ears lounge in the sun near the top of the wonderfully weird garden. I think I also see a robot.
Cats and critters with long ears lounge in the sun near the top of the wonderfully weird garden. I think I also see a robot.
Perhaps the garden was inspired a bit by the fantastic worlds of Dr. Seuss, who lived in nearby La Jolla.
Perhaps the garden is inspired a bit by the fantastic worlds of Dr. Seuss, who lived in nearby La Jolla.
A most fantastic topiary garden. A treat for the eyes!
A most amazing topiary garden. A treat for the eyes!

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!

California Native Plant Society in Balboa Park.

People check potted greenery during the California Native Plant Society's Fall Plant Sale in Balboa Park.
People look at potted greenery during the California Native Plant Society’s Fall Plant Sale in Balboa Park.

Yesterday the California Native Plant Society had their Fall Plant Sale in Balboa Park. I stumbled upon the cool event during my random walk through the park.

Lots of people were looking at all sorts of potted plants, perhaps thinking of making a purchase for their yards. Residents of San Diego are encouraged to use native flora for landscaping. San Diego has a cool arid climate, and like the rest of Southern California our growing city has a limited supply of water.

Many plants and flowers native to the San Diego region were for sale in the outdoor courtyard of the Casa del Prado.
Many plants and flowers native to the San Diego region were for sale in the outdoor courtyard of the Casa del Prado.
Balboa Park's iconic California Tower is seen through an archway at the Casa del Prado.
Balboa Park’s iconic California Tower is seen through an archway at the Casa del Prado.
Many packets of seeds were also for sale.
Many packets of seeds were also for sale.
Fred Roberts, a local botanist, artist and author had some of his beautiful bird art for sale at one end of the long table.
Fred Roberts, a local botanist, artist and author had some of his beautiful bird art for sale at one end of the long table.
He also created these flower shirts.
He also created these flower shirts.
One good thing about native plants is they don't require very much water. We live in an arid climate!
One very good thing about native plants is they don’t require much water. San Diego has an arid climate!

If you’d like to see some photos of the House of Spain’s lawn program in Balboa Park yesterday, which included lots of colorful dancing, I posted those here!

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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 fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

More stunning beauty in the Botanical Building.

The Botanical Building in Balboa Park is a garden paradise. I love to walk through it, searching right and left for small scenes of stunning beauty.

This afternoon I managed to capture some good photographs.

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!

Do you love Balboa Park? Please visit my special blog which I call Beautiful Balboa Park!

Your donation improves beautiful Tweet Street Park.

A recently improved section of Tweet Street Park on Cortez Hill. Volunteers help make this downtown neighborhood more beautiful.
A recently improved section of Tweet Street Park on Cortez Hill. Volunteers help make this downtown neighborhood even more beautiful.

Do you love Tweet Street Park on Cortez Hill? I feel very fortunate that I get to walk through the narrow but lush park almost every single day.

Over the past weeks and months, I’ve noticed smiling volunteers busy pruning, planting, removing trash, and adding new beauty to our downtown park. They are the Friends of Tweet Street Park! They welcome new community members!

A couple days ago I talked to Joe Ciavarella as he was working on one section of the park. I learned that Cortez Hill residents and anyone interested in beautifying this special corner of downtown San Diego can make a tax deductible contribution that benefits the Friends of Tweet Street Park. Funds obtained go to the purchase of gardening tools, new plants and materials that are used for a variety of landscaping improvements.

If you’d like to make a donation, visit this page.

Positive people doing positive things make each corner of this world a whole lot better!

In addition to hard work, improving the park requires the purchase of tools, plants and other material. Anyone can now easily make a donation!
In addition to the work of volunteers, improving the park requires the purchase of tools, plants and other material. Anyone can now easily make a donation!

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!

Are you a blogger? Do you want to help make the world a better place? You might want to join Bloggers Lifting Others Generously.