Monday, June 20, 2011

Queen Califia's Magical Circle Garden

A sculpture garden is a testament to the beauty and diversity of public gardens. On this midsummer's eve, I share a hidden gem, located in the Iris Sankey Arboretum section of Kit Carson Park in Escondido, CA. Hubby and I decided to check it out on a recent stay-cation day. I am familiar with the artist, Nikki de Saint Phalle since I attended UCSD and her piece Sun God is the a prominent fixture in the Price Collection and de-facto mascot of the university.

Despite my preconceptions of the artist, I was not prepared for the magnitude of Queen Califia. We entered through the one open gate and entered an Alice In Wonderland like maze of white, blank, and mirror tile. Once through the maze, we found Queen Califia herself surrounded by eight totem courtiers. Queen Califia (also known as Calafia) is the mythical Amazon Queen of the Island of California and is the origin of the state's name. She reminds me of Eugene Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People or a Queen Boudica - Cali style! The mosaics sculptures that represent her and her minions are made of glass, metal, natural stone and tile. In the heat of the day the bright colors were dazzling and the reflection of the sun off the light pavement added to the brilliant (and overwhelming) aspect of the garden. There is a unique tactile quality to the garden, visitors are encouraged to touch the pieces of the sculptures and contemplate their part in the whole. The garden has a feel of not being of this world; it is a retreat into myth, imagination, and vivid color.

Main Entrance into Queen Califia's Magic Circle Garden

Mosaic Tile Maze

Queen Califia in all her glory
Queen Califia and her Totem Courtiers

Detail of the Yelling Man Totem
The Kighfisher Totem
The Bull-Headed Totem

The Step Totem

Detail of the Snake Totem
To see more pictures of Queen Califia's Magic Circle Garden - Click here. For more information about Queen Califia, please go to Wikipedia.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Garden Vistas Part II (June Bloomday)

June is such a wonderful month in the garden! Plants are on the grow, filling in empty spaces, blooming and producing fruit. The great wall of jasmine fills the patio with its sweet, relaxing fragrance. For a short time, I can sit back and enjoy the show. For this post, I will focus on the whole symphony of the garden, rather than the show stopping soloists. Though the individuals are pretty, the whole picture is much more impressive.

View of the garden from ground level facing east. In the foreground are tomatoes and sunflowers; in the background there are nasturtiums and plumeria.

View of the garden from the ground level facing south. In the foreground are more tomatoes and sunflowers; in the background is the butterfly garden and the patio.

View of the garden from the patio facing north. In the foreground are pony tail palm, jasmine, kangaroo paw, herb garden, Mexican sage, and succulents. In the background are more tomatoes.

View of the garden facing west. In the foreground are collard greens and tomatoes; in the background are plumeria, sunflowers, pony tail palm and more tomatoes.

Friday, June 10, 2011

In the Inez Grant Parker Rose Garden

That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.
Romeo & Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

You are responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose.    Antoine de Saint-Exupery 

The aristocratic rose always imbues romance and culture. It captures our imaginations with its deep fragrance and beautiful blooms. It punishes the beholder with its vicious thorns, symbolizing the dichotomy of pleasure and pain. Yet the rose is also delicate, requiring almost daily care in order to produce its heady scent and signature flowers.

On the east side of Balboa Park, across the Park Avenue pedestrian bridge, is San Diego's most beautiful and extensive rose garden, named for philanthropist Inez Grant Parker. There are approximately 200 varieties of roses here, carefully tended by a staff of volunteers. I can only imagine the amount of tending these roses need. I have 5 plants and two hybrid variety roses in my garden, and it is a constant fight to remove spent blooms, prune, and fight rose blight. Orange rust spores continue to be a problem for my Mother of Pearl and Double Delight roses and I can see evidence of the scourge at the Inez Grant Parker Rose Garden as well.

Roses are beloved, favorites of florists, brides, and sentimental romantics. So, we continue to tend them, nurse them through sickness, and create new varieties to grow in our private and public gardens. They will forever adorn our bouquets and pique our memories of romance and days gone by.

For more rose pictures, please click here.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Michael Pollan - It is not just an author, but also a tomato.

I have always delighted in growing exotic, heirloom tomatoes. Especially the kind you never find in a store. Some do well, some do not. Some taste great, some are barley edible. All of them are fun to grow and make the wait for tomatoes exciting and ripe with anticipation. This year I have 24 different tomatoes in my back yard garden. Some of these I have grown before and continue to grow because of their combination of production and taste. One I have not grown before is the “Michael Pollan”.

According to
'Michael Pollan' is an odd shaped mutant! (The tomato that is.) Egg shaped fruits are yellow with green stripes & some have little “nubbins” on the ends. Related to ‘Green Zebra’ but with a milder taste & a good amount of sweetness. Very popular in taste tests. Plus the bloom on this variety is reported to be quite showy. Nice! Named after the amazing author & teacher -whose books we highly recommend.

Michael Pollan is a famous author dealing with health, the environment and food’s influence on both. He has been immortalized with his own heirloom tomato with the nom de plume “Michael Pollan”.

The tomato also has a reputation for blossom end rot. Blossom end rot is generally caused by a lack of calcium in the soil and irregular watering. The lack of calcium can be due to poor watering practices or by a basic lack of calcium in the soil. I always plant my tomatoes with ground up egg shells and make sure I use a good fertilizer as well. I also hand water with an eye to temperature and weather. I got my “Michael Pollan” at the Tomato Mania event at the Quail Botanical Gardens. If you have never attended this event in the spring, I highly recommend it. The plant went into the ground on April 2nd. As of June 1st, the plant was nearly 5 feet tall. It has an abundance of blossoms. I mean lots and lots of blossoms. I am hopefull for a bountiful harvest and the tomatoes taste as good as their reputation. In any event, it has been fun to grow and anticipation runs high for some great tasting tomatoes.

Michael Pollan with multitude of blossoms.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Volunteer Call

A note from Jodi at the Garden Path:

Hello everyone---

I may have talked to some of you this past weekend, but we are looking for volunteers for our annual fundraising opportunity this summer. During the Stampede (July 7-17th this year..), our volunteers take shifts selling raffle tickets on behalf of the Kinsmen. Other than the Sneak-a-Peek Thursday, there are three shifts a day -- morning, afternoon and evening. Its an easy, fun way for us to fundraise, and admission to the Park is taken care of.

The Kinsmen pay us per shift worked, so if you are interested, please volunteer as many times as you can!!

A big thanks to those that have already volunteered; I will be in touch with further details a little closer to the date. Happy gardening!

All the best,
Jodi Lucas
Funds and Granting Director
Garden Path Society

You can email Jodi for more details and shift times at