Monday, November 15, 2010

November Bloomday

The garden is looking a little thin. I have my one vegetable bed that is filling in with more lettuces, radishes, and cauliflower (as long as I can keep the slugs away). I still have beautiful plumeria and rose blooms thanks to the sunny, warm weather. I've successfully nursed my geraniums back to health. The fig, plum, and pomegranate trees are dropping their leaves slowly but surely. The truly bright jewels I have in my garden this month are Humming birds. They buzz by me as fast as their wings can carry them, not caring a wit about the human in their presence. I have tasty treats for them - Mexican Sage and fuchsia. Lastly, I am really excited about my Anna Apple blooms - will there be apples come early spring?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

In the Zoro Garden

Past the Ruben H Fleet and beyond the dramatic Bea Evenson fountain, off the beaten path of El Prado, visitors will find the maze-like grotto of the Zoro Garden. As the elevation descends, so does the temperature, the foliage providing cooler pockets of air in between patches of sun. The garden is historically and presently a tactile tease, for the visitor is tempted to touch what the garden rules have deemed forbidden fruit.

Like the Alcazar Garden, the Zoro Garden was also constructed for the 1935 - 1936 Pacific International Exposition. But rather than showcase fountains and plants, the Zoro Gardens was marketed and portrayed as a Nudist Colony. Ever popular and scandalous, many peeped through the garden fence to get a glimpse of the comely women nudists cavorting in their “natural environment.” See pictures.

The Zoro Garden is now a butterfly garden, providing sanctuary to migrating monarchs on their way to Mexico. It has multiple varieties of plants that serve as food as well as shelter for transformative chrysalises. There still exists that tactile temptation to touch one’s surroundings or even a brave butterfly that ventures too closely. Park signs forbid it: Do not touch butterflies, caterpillars, cocoons, or disturb the winged wildlife in any way. The visitor must be satisfied to run a hand over the uneven mortar and stone that forms the meandering pathways of the garden.

While we missed the migrating monarchs, we followed the paths toward the central amphitheater, noting the remaining autumn blooms, white milkweed, purple salvia, and yellow cone flowers. The dappled sunlight was unmoving in the still air, providing relief from the late fall heat.  The tall ferns further augmented the sensation of tropical coolness.

I hope to revisit the Zoro Garden in early spring to experience the northward monarch migration. Perhaps if fortune favors me, I will be blessed with the light, feathery touch of butterfly wings.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

In the Alcazar Garden

Winter dormancy has reduced my garden to one small winter vegetable bed that may or may not produce as planned. In the interim, I will take a tour of the senses in the beloved and beautiful public gardens of Balboa Park, the crown jewel of planned public parks in the San Diego area.

As visitors stroll across the Cabrillo Bridge, they hear the hum of the busy freeway below and the sounds of auto traffic proceeding into the park.  Little do some know, as they follow the thoroughfare of El Prado, the din of modernity dissipates into the tranquility of a Spanish style garden through the archways to the south.  This is the Alcazar Garden, originally constructed for the 1935 - 1936 Pacific International Exposition.

We walked into the garden after the chimes of the California tower struck noon; they continued their tune, drowning out the buzz of traffic nearby. After the ringing of the chimes, the most noticeable music was that of the two brightly tiled fountains, bubbling in the dry autumn heat. The fountains were recently renovated in 2008. Previously, unsightly damaged tiles and empty basins greeted visitors.  Skate boarders were accused of the destroying tiles, for it looked as if a skate boards had landed on and smashed the tiles.  Ugly, caged-like bars attempted to protect the remaining tiles, further marring the landscape. In an ironic twist, renovating workers discovered that moisture had seeped through the grout causing the cracking and decay, rendering the ugly cages obsolete and necessitating an apology to the skate boarding community.

The Alcazar garden was designed to mimic the more famous Alcazar Gardens in Seville, Spain. Besides the tile fountains, it has a shade pergola and numerous benches for taking in the tranquil scene.  It is a formal, structured garden with boxwood hedges and adjacent pathways that separate six large central plots, showcasing multi-colored annual flowers and eight plots encircling the garden with more permanent water-wise and butterfly friendly selections. At this time, the two largest central plots are planted with perennial lavender and impatiens, allowing the garden to retain its Mediterranean theme, while providing a water-wise solution for the dry seasonal heat.

I think it is the perfect place to while away a pleasant, balmy day, listening to the music of falling water. But Hubby would rather chase butterflies . . .