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.

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