Floral Wagon Parade at Balboa Park’s Garden Party!

Kid pulls a Radio Flyer during Floral Wagon Parade. The fun family event was part of Balboa Park's big Garden Party!
Kid pulls a Radio Flyer during Floral Wagon Parade. The fun family event was part of Balboa Park’s big 2016 Garden Party!

I took more fun photos! They capture a bit of the cheerful color from this morning’s Floral Wagon Parade in Balboa Park! The unique flower-themed parade kicked off the park’s Second Annual Garden Party!

I’ve got even more pics of the 2016 Garden Party, which I’ll post later tonight on my new Beautiful Balboa Park blog! The event included dancing, butterfly releases, and all sorts of delightful stuff. You might enjoy checking it out!

Here comes the Floral Wagon Parade down El Prado. Lots of colorful blooms have been arranged to delight onlookers!
Here comes the Floral Wagon Parade down El Prado. Lots of colorful blooms have been arranged to delight onlookers!
An elaborate Friends of Balboa Park display near the front of the parade. Today was the park's Second Annual Garden Party!
An elaborate Friends of Balboa Park display near the front of the parade. Today was the park’s Second Annual Garden Party!
Here comes the morning parade! The Garden Party was just beginning and the later crowds hadn't quite materialized yet.
Here comes more of the morning parade! The Garden Party was just getting underway at nine o’clock, and the later crowds hadn’t quite materialized yet.
This cool musician was playing Somewhere Over the Rainbow on a ukulele!
This cool musician was playing Somewhere Over the Rainbow on a ukulele!
Towed by young people, floral displays head down Balboa Park's central El Prado.
Towed by young people, floral displays head down Balboa Park’s central El Prado.
Even though the spring morning was gray and overcast, these flowers brightened the day like small suns.
Even though the sky was gray and overcast, these flowers brightened the day like small suns.
A terrible disaster! A basket-trailer containing fruit overturned during the parade!
A terrible disaster! A basket-trailer containing fruit overturned during the parade!
Here comes Botany for Kids!
Here comes Botany for Kids!  (It seems the adults were having the most fun.)
These young ladies informed me that they were dressed as garden fairies.
These young ladies informed me that they were dressed as garden fairies.
Is that a digital Sheldon Cooper on the screen? No! It's a fun remote-control parade float created by the Balboa Park Online Collaborative.
Is that a digital Sheldon Cooper on the screen? No! It’s a funny remote-control parade “float” created by the Balboa Park Online Collaborative.
The colorful Floral Wagon Parade enters the Plaza de Panama, where speeches will kick off the day's big 2016 Garden Party.
The colorful Floral Wagon Parade enters the Plaza de Panama, where speeches will kick off the day’s big 2016 Garden Party.
Looks like parade participants had lots of fun decorating their flower-laden wagons!
Looks like parade participants had lots of fun decorating their flower-laden wagons!

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San Diego Zoo seed bank protects endangered plants.

Visitors at the San Diego Zoo Centennial Festival in Balboa Park learn how rare, threatened and endangered native plants are being saved by the zoo.
Visitors at the San Diego Zoo Centennial Festival in Balboa Park learn how rare, threatened and endangered native plants are being saved by the zoo.

Many know how the San Diego Zoo is a world leader in working to protect animal species from extinction. One important task is to store critical genetic material. Their world-renowned Frozen Zoo has been storing cryogenically preserved biological samples since 1976.

When I walked through the San Diego Zoo Centennial Festival in Balboa Park last Saturday, I learned something that really impressed me. Not only is the zoo striving to save the world’s most endangered wild animals, but San Diego Zoo Global has developed an important native plant seed bank, in an effort to conserve rare and threatened local plant species.

The zoo is member of the California Plant Rescue Partnership, whose goal is the long term conservation of wild plant species through seed banks and field work. One of the people with whom I briefly spoke has the job of hiking about San Diego County, searching for and monitoring populations of these rare plant species. What a fantastic job that must be!

The zoo has developed an extensive seed collection. Some native plants being protected are the San Diego golden star Bloomeria clevelandii, Dudleya brevifolia, Monardella stoneana, Comarostaphylis diversifolia ssp. diversifolia, and Corethrogyne filaginifolia var. linifolia, which is commonly called the Del Mar sand aster.

The San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research is also working hard to save the Tecate Cypress in Southern California and Baja California, a tree that the rare Thorne’s hairstreak butterfly depends upon. A poster at the zoo’s centennial event helped to explain why this effort is so urgent.

San Diego Zoo Global's Native Plant Seed Bank and horticulture departments have planted 500 Tecate Cypress trees to establish a field gene bank.
San Diego Zoo Global’s Native Plant Seed Bank and horticulture departments have planted 500 Tecate Cypress trees to establish a field gene bank. (Click to enlarge.)
The San Diego Zoo's important conservation efforts extend beyond protecting animal species threatened by extinction.
The San Diego Zoo’s conservation efforts extend beyond protecting animal species threatened by extinction.  Plants are important, too!

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Flowers along a trail into Balboa Park’s Florida Canyon.

Spectacular flower of a Coastal cholla cactus in San Diego. Seen along a trail near Morley Field Drive that leads down into Balboa Park's Florida Canyon.
Spectacular flower of a Coastal cholla cactus in San Diego. Seen along a trail near Morley Field Drive that leads into Balboa Park’s Florida Canyon.

I took these colorful photos while walking Sunday through Balboa Park, along one of the rugged dirt trails that leads up out of Florida Canyon. A short hike can be enjoyed through native coastal chaparral and spring wildflowers, between Morley Field and Park Boulevard, just south of Morley Field Drive.

Flat-top buckwheat, or California buckwheat, flower clusters are opening in spring. These native plants grow profusely in arid San Diego.
Flat-top buckwheat, or California buckwheat, flower clusters are opening in spring. These native plants grow profusely in arid San Diego.
Small red flower clusters of flat-top buckwheat (Eriogonum deflexum) that have yet to open.
Small red flower clusters of flat-top buckwheat (Eriogonum deflexum) that have yet to open.
More buckwheat in Balboa Park's Florida Canyon. Native Americans used the plant to make tea with medicinal properties.
More buckwheat in Balboa Park’s Florida Canyon. Native Americans used the plant to make tea with medicinal properties.
Another flower on a very spiny Coastal cholla (Cylindropuntia prolifera) makes for an interesting photograph.
Another flower on a very spiny Coastal cholla (Cylindropuntia prolifera) makes for an interesting photograph.
A wild yellow prickly pear cactus flower at the rim of Balboa Park's Florida Canyon, just across Park Boulevard from the San Diego Zoo.
A wild yellow prickly pear cactus flower near the rim of Balboa Park’s Florida Canyon, just across Park Boulevard from the San Diego Zoo.
These buckwheat flower clusters have turned brown. Perhaps that's why the plant is sometimes called skeletonweed.
These buckwheat flower clusters have turned brown. Perhaps that’s why the plant is sometimes called skeletonweed.
These flowers that I randomly photographed along the trail have me stumped. I tried to identify them, but without success. If you know what they are, please leave a comment!
These flowers that I randomly photographed along the trail have me stumped. I tried to identify them, but without success. If you know what they are, please leave a comment!
A profusion of red and white buckwheat beauty.
A profusion of red and white buckwheat beauty.

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A short nature walk along a National City wetland.

Rusty old train tracks are overgrown with wild vegetation, including many California sunflowers.
Rusty old train tracks are overgrown with wild vegetation, including many California bush sunflowers.

I made a cool discovery the other day. A little-known hiking path in San Diego’s South Bay provides a view of a beautiful natural wetland.

According to signs that I saw, the small estuary between Bay Marina Drive, Marina Way, Interstate 5 and the Sweetwater River is a protected wildlife refuge. I believe, after looking at Google Maps, that the water flows from Paradise Creek. But I’m not certain. Perhaps someone reading this knows.

Long-unused train tracks that are partially concealed by vegetation run along the edge of the wetland, and so does a narrow footpath. I didn’t see any signs naming the trail, or any that prohibited a short hike. So I walked down it a bit, enjoying the fresh air and peaceful surroundings.

Information sign near edge of estuary identifies native plants. California Buckwheat, White Sage, Southwestern Spiny Rush, and Black Sage.
Information sign near edge of estuary identifies native plants. California Buckwheat, White Sage, Southwestern Spiny Rush, and Black Sage.
View of National City wetland from observation area south of the Best Western Marina Gateway hotel parking lot.
View of National City wetland from observation area south of the Best Western Marina Gateway hotel parking lot.
Beginning down the footpath on a sunny weekend day.
Beginning down the footpath on a sunny weekend day.
Some eroded sandstone adds beauty to the scene.
Some eroded sandstone adds beauty to the scene.
Prickly pear and chaparral yucca above a green estuary.
Prickly pear and chaparral yucca above a green estuary.
Beyond the sign lies a fragile wetland where native plants and animals are protected. I saw some birds out in the wildlife refuge.
Beyond the sign lies a fragile wetland where native plants and animals are protected. I saw some birds out in the wildlife refuge.
I turned about after a short hike and headed on back to the hotel parking lot.
I turned about after a short hike and headed on back to the hotel parking lot.

UPDATE!

On a later visit I discovered additional signs beside the hotel parking lot. They contain more interesting information.

I learned this wetland is called Paradise Marsh. It’s an environmentally important tidal salt marsh that’s part of the much larger San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Water reflects bright sunlight in National City's Paradise Marsh.
Water reflects bright sunlight in National City’s Paradise Marsh.
Paradise Marsh is a small part of the 2600 acre San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Paradise Marsh is a small part of the 2600 acre San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge
The birds of Paradise Marsh include the Willet, Mallard, American Avocet and the Great Blue Heron.
The birds of Paradise Marsh include the Willet, Mallard, American Avocet and the Great Blue Heron.
For hundreds of years, Native American tribes such as the Kumeyaay, Iapi or Tipai made their homes around the estuaries of San Diego Bay.
For hundreds of years, Native American tribes such as the Kumeyaay, Iapi or Tipai made their homes around the estuaries of San Diego Bay.
A beautiful tidal salt marsh wetland can be viewed in National City.
A beautiful tidal salt marsh wetland can be viewed in National City.

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Artist creates amazing lumen and cyanotype photos!

Uniquely beautiful Fern Lumen by artist Patricia Grabski.
Uniquely beautiful Fern Lumen by artist Patricia Grabski.

This weekend you have an opportunity to see something really unique. Patricia Grabski is displaying her amazing lumen and cyanotype photo art in Balboa Park. Her work is part of a five artist exhibition called Ain’t Nothing Like a Dame, which you can enjoy inside Gallery 21, in the always wonderful Spanish Village Art Center.

I learned that cyanotype printing was invented in England in 1842. Utilizing two chemicals, ammonium iron citrate and potassium ferricyanide, this process was used to create early blueprints. In 1843, the world’s first woman photographer, Anna Atkins, placed organic materials onto paper coated with cyanotype; when exposed to sunlight, ghostly, artistic photograms were created.

Lumens is a very similar process that uses old unexposed black and white photo paper. Exposure to sunlight creates all sorts of fantastic colors and effects.

My own poor photographs don’t do this fascinating artwork justice. You have to see the subtle detail in person. So head on over to Spanish Village tomorrow.  Patricia Grabski’s work will be displayed through March 14. If you want to contact the artist, her info is visible in one photo.

Patricia Grabski is currently exhibiting her unique creations in Gallery 21, in Balboa Park's wonderful Spanish Village Art Center. Her pieces are available for purchase.
Patricia Grabski is currently exhibiting her unique creations in Gallery 21, in Balboa Park’s wonderful Spanish Village Art Center. Her pieces are available for purchase.
Patricia Grabski uses neither camera nor lens--she contact prints her images with alternative photographic processes--cyanotype, platinum, palladium, albumen, van dyke brown, salt and lumens. Her prints are made on photographic paper, art paper, glass, tin, cotton handkerchiefs and old linens.
Patricia Grabski uses neither camera nor lens–she contact prints her images with alternative photographic processes–cyanotype, platinum, palladium, albumen, van dyke brown, salt and lumens. Her prints are made on photographic paper, art paper, glass, tin, cotton handkerchiefs and old linens.

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Leaf Lumen. Fantastic art created by Patricia Grabski.
Leaf Lumen. Fantastic art created by Patricia Grabski.

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Art springs up near New Children’s Museum!

Art is filled with growing strawberry plants at The Garden Project!
Art is alive (with growing strawberry plants) at The Garden Project!

Whenever I mosey down the Martin Luther King Jr. Promenade, I spy something new.

This morning I noticed that some fun art has sprung up near the New Children’s Museum, in both The Garden Project and the playground. Someone created beautiful chalk artwork on the playground’s concrete wall, and strawberries have been planted art-fully in the public garden! It reminds me that spring is coming!

(I increased the contrast of my third photograph so the chalk artwork could be more easily seen.)

Kids created this fun strawberry art.
Kids created this fun strawberry art.
And young people created this chalk drawing on a playground wall. A heart encompasses the Earth and a puppy dog. Love is powerful.
And young people created this chalk drawing on a playground wall. A heart encompasses the Earth and a puppy dog. Love is powerful.

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Photos of Love Your Wetlands Day in Mission Bay.

Love Your Wetlands Day took place in Pacific Beach at north Mission Bay's small Kendall-Frost Marsh.
Love Your Wetlands Day took place in Pacific Beach at north Mission Bay’s small Kendall-Frost Marsh.

Late this morning I headed up to Pacific Beach to experience Love Your Wetlands Day. The annual event provides a once-a-year opportunity for the public to visit the protected Kendall-Frost Marsh, which lies in the north part of Mission Bay.

I was really impressed by the efforts underway by the San Diego Audubon Society and the UC Natural Reserve System to restore this wetland, and by all the people who showed up for the event. Hopefully my blog will help raise awareness about this very important project.

I definitely learned a lot! Please read the photo captions . . .

The Kendall-Frost Marsh is being restored into a healthy wetland by the San Diego Audubon Society and the UC Natural Reserve System with the help of volunteers.
The Kendall-Frost Marsh is being restored into a healthy wetland by the San Diego Audubon Society and the UC Natural Reserve System with the help of volunteers.
The slough is a prime location for birdlife. Many different birds can be spotted in this protected wildlife refuge, which is usually off-limits to the public.
The slough is a prime location for birdlife. Many different birds can be spotted in this protected wildlife refuge, which is usually off-limits to the public.
Photos of bird sightings on the surrounding fence.
Photos of bird sightings on the surrounding fence.
I arrived a bit early to the event, and watched from the nearby street as last-minute preparations took place.
I arrived a bit early to the event, and watched from the nearby street as last-minute preparations took place.
A sign welcomes visitors to Love Your Wetlands Day. Lots of activities included bird watching, a water quality test demo, and a marsh clean-up.
A sign welcomes visitors to Love Your Wetlands Day. Lots of activities included bird watching, a water quality testing demo, and a marsh clean-up.
People sign in to the event. A few lucky attendees won raffle prizes!
People sign in to the event. A few lucky attendees won raffle prizes!
The San Diego Audubon Society had a table at the event.
The San Diego Audubon Society had a table at the special outdoor event.
Information at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program display shows the marsh boundaries and restoration efforts.
Information at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program exhibit shows the marsh boundaries and restoration efforts.
This super cool volunteer at a fun kids activity table gave me the thumbs up!
This super cool volunteer at a fun kids activity table gave me the thumbs up!
A nearby area where native vegetation is being carefully restored.
A nearby area where native vegetation is being carefully restored.
These plants will eventually call the marsh home.
These plants will eventually be transplanted into the marsh.
A look across the marsh southward, toward the greater part of Mission Bay, a large urban recreational park in San Diego.
A look across the marsh southward, toward the greater part of Mission Bay, a large urban recreational park in San Diego.
As the event gets underway, many more people arrive.
As the event gets underway, many energetic people arrive.
Fun nature mural on side of the Kendall-Frost Reserve Trailer in Pacific Beach!
Fun nature mural on side of the Kendall-Frost Reserve Trailer in Pacific Beach!
Many photos around the exterior of the trailer show insects, flowers, birds and other wildlife that make the marsh their home.
Many photos around the exterior of the trailer show insects, flowers, birds and other wildlife that make the marsh their home.
A row of waterproof boots await volunteers.
A row of waterproof boots awaits volunteers.
Putting on some boots before heading out into the muddy, mucky marsh!
Putting on some boots before heading out into the muddy, mucky marsh!
Tools that are used to remove trash from the environmentally sensitive marshland.
Tools that are used to remove trash from the environmentally sensitive marshland.
An art project for kids involved creatively decorating stones!
A fun art project for kids involved creatively decorating stones!
Speaker describes how the ReWild project of the San Diego Audubon Society is working to restore important wetlands in the northeast corner of Mission Bay.
Speaker describes how the ReWild project of the San Diego Audubon Society is working to restore important wetlands in the northeast corner of Mission Bay.
A chart at one table shows types of pollutants found on the beaches of San Diego.
A chart at one table shows types of pollutants found on the beaches of San Diego.
Water quality tests include monitoring pH, temperature, oxygen content and turbidity.
Water quality tests include monitoring pH, temperature, oxygen content and turbidity.
Folks are heading every which way, learning about the marsh and setting about to help restore it!
Folks are heading every which way, learning about the marsh and setting about to help restore it!
Walking over to collect a water sample. The Kendall-Frost Mission Bay Marsh Reserve habitats include coastal sage scrub, south coastal salt marsh, tidal channels, salt flats and mudflats.
Walking over to collect a water sample. The Kendall-Frost Mission Bay Marsh Reserve habitats include coastal sage scrub, south coastal salt marsh, tidal channels, salt flats and mudflats.
Water from a storm drain is collected by volunteers for testing.
Water from a storm drain is collected by volunteers for testing.
After putting on boots and grabbing buckets, a gang of volunteers is out in the marsh seeing it up close and removing unwanted debris.
After putting on boots and grabbing buckets, a gang of volunteers is out in the marsh seeing it up close and removing unwanted debris.
Netting is laid down by more volunteers to help prevent erosion during rain.
Netting is laid down by more volunteers to help prevent erosion during rain. A big storm is coming tomorrow!
Love Your Wetlands Day was a great opportunity for the public to help preserve and enhance the Kendall-Frost Marsh!
Love Your Wetlands Day was a great opportunity for the public to help preserve and enhance the Kendall-Frost Marsh!

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