Monday, May 23, 2016

Balboa Park revisited

I was recently in San Diego for an artists workshop with my friend Jim and took the opportunity to visit Balboa Park again.  (Last visit October 2013) This huge 1200 acre green space has a fascinating history and was originally developed for the Panama - California Exposition in 1915. This left it with a huge legacy of unusual buildings, augmented by its further use  for the California Pacific International Exposition in  1935. There are museums, art galleries, theaters, a huge open pipe organ and it is the home to the San Diego Zoo. On the Sunday afternoon we visited it was filled with visitors and families enjoying its many attractions.

As well as buildings, there are gardens; a Japanese garden, desert garden, Alcazar Garden, palm canyon, and the botanical building and lily pond.  At a glance the botanical building, which dates from  1915, looks like a big domed Victorian glasshouse but there's not a pane of glass, as its a lath house. Being a mild climate, the protection of glass is not needed but shade is a must! It is well planted and tended and in particular there are some lovely orchids. Apparently in WW2,  when the park buildings were used as a hospital, the lily pond was used as a swimming pool. I didn't visit the zoo on this occasion but that has a beautiful landscape

The desert garden is no rival for the amazing one at the Huntington but its nevertheless worth visiting and has some wonderful mature plants.

Throughout the park in general there is interesting planting and its always fascinating visiting a new area to see what new is flowering. In particular we loved the beautiful Jacaranda trees in full flower throughout the city. Amazingly they were virtually all intact and beautifully shaped unlike those in Palm Springs which are usually hacked to ugly shapes and rarely flower.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Desert becomes fashionable

Although we have had some rain this winter and the reservoirs are partly replenished, California is still in drought and the restrictions on water usage and irrigation in particular remain. Last year home owners started turning their lush green lawns over to desert planting and some great schemes developed. In recent months I have noticed an increasing number of developments that have made huge changes particularly to the landscapes that front the roadsides. The close-mown green lawns have gone and have been replaced by desert planting, gravels, cobbles and rocks. The following pictures were all taken within a short distance from where we live within a few minutes of each other. All were previously lush green grass often with beds of annuals.

Planted last year and settling in nicely

Reasonable scheme but they should have removed the water guzzling Jacarandas - poor advice given here!

A messy scheme and the ugly oleander hedge has been left - too water nungry and leggy. Why didn't they at least prune it!

A huge scheme stretching two blocks but pity they couldn't afford a few more plants!
I guess these changes will have made huge impacts on landscapers who no longer have acres of grass to cut and will buy less machinery from the suppliers. And then everyone is buying cacti and succulents rather than bedding plants. Lots of change for all those in the horticulture industry in this area.