February 27, 2018

Spring Break at Balboa Park's Desert Garden

display garden

Back in March 2016, we had a family event in San Diego, so we made a vacation of it and did some sightseeing and exploring on the side. I've done a few previous posts on San Diego's botanical highlights.

Today, I'm focusing on Balboa Park's Desert Garden. I honestly only spent about two or three hours touring Balboa Park, and although there's much, much more to explore on a return trip, it's astonishing how many amazing treasures I discovered. Note that very few of the Desert Garden plants were marked (and I'm less familiar with these), so please correct me if I've identified them incorrectly.

The Desert Garden and Rose Garden are set off a bit from the rest of Balboa Park.

planted median

As you walk the bridge over Park Blvd., you notice that even the medians are planted with lovely xeric plants.

bridge

Looking back over the bridge, this offers some perspective--most of Balboa Park is on the other side.

highway overlook

At the edge of the Desert Garden, you get a nifty canyon view overlooking the highway below.

ice plant patch

When I was there, the Ice Plants (Delosperma cooperi) were blooming.

ice plant bloom

A stunning sight to see after four months of bitter winter.

lizard

I always notice the lizards when I travel. I know--when you see them all the time, it's not a big deal. But we have only a few lizards in Wisconsin.

hummer 1

This cute, little hummingbird followed me around the Desert Garden. I think it was a rufous, although I didn't get close enough for a positive ID.

barrel cactus and statice

This grouping of Golden Barrel Cactuses (Echinocactus grusonii) was impressive framed by Statice flowers (Limonium sinuatum).

blooming barrel cactus

Blooming Barrel Cactuses (Ferocactus spp.) were plentiful, too. The yellow flowers were yummy in the California sunshine.

old man and oxalis

I love the common name of this one: Old Man Cactus (Cephalocereus senilis). It looks soft as a pillow, but be careful! I also like the Oxalis blooms floating in among the grouping: I don't know if this was intentional, but it was pleasant.

casssia

The Sennas (Cassias?) were blooming golden yellow, too. I think this is either Senna surattensis or Cassia leptophylla. These two genera seem to be under review and have similar histories and purposes. Anyway, they're glorious in bloom.

aloes

No question about the drama and awesomeness of the Torch Aloes (A. arborescens). They seem much at home in San Diego, although they're native to Southern Africa.

cow's horn euphorbia

How about this awesome Cow's Horn Euphorbia (E. grandicornis)?

lion's tail

Lion's Tail (Leonotis leonurus) seems to beckon hummingbirds.

crown of thorns, chalkstick, artichoke agave

This grouping was my favorite in the Desert Garden: a beautiful Artichoke Agave (A. parryi), nestled between Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) and Narrow-Leaf Chalksticks (Senecio cylindricus).

In this cold, wet transition from winter to spring here in Wisconsin, I'm longing for a warm, dry day. These pleasant memories help...a little.

various succulents

40 comments:

  1. One day I will get to see something like this, and not in a hot house.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You would love San Diego, Les. I think I would consider living there part of the year, if it wasn't so expensive.

      Delete
  2. I REALLY need to pay a visit to Balboa Park! For all the times I've visited San Diego, I've never stopped there. March seems to be when ice plants are at their best here - I just noticed that all those planted near the entry to my own neighborhood have suddenly burst into glorious bloom.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Ice Plants were really quite spectacular, Kris! Yes, a trip to Balboa Park is just down the road for you, right? Lucky you! I think a person could spend a year exploring Balboa Park and find something new every day. Loved it!

      Delete
  3. Isn't this area charming? It is like being in another world.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed, Lisa. I can't say enough good things about San Diego. It has quickly become one of my favorite places in the U.S. :)

      Delete
  4. Thanks for the tour of Balboa Park Beth. You took some amazing photos. I love that the little hummingbird befriended you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. It's one of those places where a camera is a necessity! I do somewhat regret that I didn't have a longer zoom lens with me, so next time... :)

      Delete
  5. Seeing not my usual is another reminder of
    “what a wonderful world.”
    The ice plants are certainly “stunning!”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed, Lynne: What a wonderful world! The Ice Plants were glowing along the hillsides when we were there. And they're especially stunning at close range.

      Delete
  6. A walk around this park was a great pleasure. There were amazing plants and there was a hummingbird. Thank you and best regards.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it, Giga. :) Yes, that little hummingbird was defending (or boasting about) its territory. Such a cutie.

      Delete
    2. Unfortunately, I have not seen a movie about which you write with me. :(

      Delete
  7. A welcome dose of California sunshine and warmth! Such wonderful and sculptural plants.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes, it does a body (and mind and soul) good! I could use a dose of it about now. Loved the plants, too!

      Delete
  8. Lovely to finally see your photos! I loved this park and would go back in a heartbeat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought about you while I was there, Loree. It really is special--I love the entire area. I'd go back in a heartbeat, too.

      Delete
  9. Oh my, this was nice. This season coming up is my least favorite, MUD SEASON I call it. ;-) It seems to take forever for our area to dry out to get working outside.
    And March never wants to make up its mind if it wants Spring or Winter.
    We visited Torrey Pines in April of 2011, what a lovely site to see the desert in bloom.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh gosh, I know what you mean about the mud. Besides being messy, I hear so many people advising us not to work in the garden anyway for a while to avoid compacting the soil. It's so frustrating! I want to be out there! Yesterday it was near 60 here, and I spent the afternoon raking leaves out of my south-facing perennial bed near the house. The Daffodils are a couple of inches out of the ground! Torrey Pines sounds wonderful--I didn't get there on this trip, so I'll have to add it to the bucket list. A desert in bloom in April...sigh. We stayed in Encinitas, just north of there, so I kind of know the area. Love the climate in the winter/early spring!

      Delete
  10. Desert plants have such dramatic architecture! I love the picture of the cactus rising out of the sea of ice plant blossoms! Sounds like a lovely (and nice and warm!) visit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, they do! It's a great place for a vacation or an extended stay. So many things to do in the area!

      Delete
  11. All beautiful photos, Beth. I'm sure you enjoyed your visit to sunny San Diego. I love Balboa Park and also enjoyed the cacti, but when I was there in January (a couple of years ago), there were few blooms. It looks like you hit the flowering jackpot!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Tina! Yes, we had a wonderful time. I had been to San Diego before a couple of times, but never to Balboa Park or the SD Botanical Garden. March was a great time to be there. :)

      Delete
  12. Beautiful!
    Desert plants are amazing!
    Have a wonderful day!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Lea. Succulents are amazing in their able to survive and thrive with very little water. I think if I lived out there, I'd really try to have a xeric garden.

      Delete
  13. Just amazing - how lucky you were to be there when so many of the cacti were blooming! I've never seen cacti in an actual landscape outside of a greenhouse setting - I think it will be rather surreal when I eventually do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Margaret: Oh, you will enjoy the Fling this year, I'll bet! We even have cacti growing in the wild here--small ones, but it is nifty to happen upon them while hiking. The big ones are awesome, as are all the other succulents. :)

      Delete
  14. Wow, what a great place! We have been to LA a few times, but never San Diego. Maybe during our next trip to the west coast.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LA is fun, too. I lived there for a summer when I was a college kid. I think I prefer San Diego, for various reasons that are too complicated to discuss here. If you like LA, you'll probably like San Diego, too.

      Delete
  15. Your photographs are amazing! Thank you for sharing these magnificent gardens. Desert plants are always so fascinating.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Lee! You're welcome. The gardens, and the entirety of Balboa Park, are a traveler's wonderland. So much to see and do there!

      Delete
  16. This makes me long to go back to Arizona, where I always enjoyed seeing the very different plant life of the desert gardens. Or maybe I'll have plan a trip to San Diego next year:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Arizona's awesome, too. I think I prefer San Diego, just because of the ocean and the slightly milder climate. Anywhere warm sounds nice now, though. ;-)

      Delete
  17. We have lots of lizards here, but not that kind! And most of those desert plants are foreign to my eyes. I always enjoy a peak into a place so different from my own little corner of the earth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm obsessed with lizards, every time I visit a place where they're common. They're so cute and friendly! I love to visit new places! Each destination has its own special charm!

      Delete
  18. As a CA native, ice plant and statice are flowers of my youth. I was born in San Diego but lived up and down CA. What a great get away in the middle of winter for you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, I can't imagine having grown up in California! It must have been idyllic! Especially San Diego. Yes, it's a great place for a spring break away from Wisconsin. ;-)

      Delete
  19. The closeup of the ice plant is gorgeous! You got wonderful pictures of the cacti too. The oxalis and Old Man cactus make an expectedly nice combination.

    I've never seen an artichoke agave before. It's really beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! The plants were inspiring. I'm craving green, growing things now. Just remembering this place is helpful.

      Delete
  20. the Old Man looks eminently strokable, at least in his picture ;~)

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for stopping by!

Please use text comments only (free of hyperlinks). Comments with hyperlinks may not make it through the heightened security system.

Also, your comment might not appear right away (even though we love you). PlantPostings uses comment moderation, and we read every comment before we publish.