March 30, 2016

A San Diego Jewel: Balboa Park's Rose Garden

trellis gazebo

During our recent trip to San Diego in mid-March, I had a few brief (much too brief) opportunities to visit botanical sites. While my husband and son toured the world-famous San Diego Zoo, I decided to spend the afternoon exploring adjacent Balboa Park. In some ways, that was a mistake--only because there were simply too many wonders to experience during a few brief hours.

One highlight was the Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden. Featuring more than 2,400 roses in nearly 200 varieties, the garden was just beginning to bloom during my visit. I can only imagine how stunning it must be throughout April and May.


The fountain along one edge of the garden wasn't flowing during this photo, but it allows you to see the nearby Desert Garden, which I hope to cover in a future post. The City of San Diego Park & Recreation Department website offers a few photos that illustrate the circular design of the rose garden--one sphere surrounding the fountain and the other surrounding the sitting area, shaded by a rose-covered trellis.

Here's a small sampling of the early bloomers I noticed during my visit. Most roses in this garden are listed as hardy in USDA zones 5 to 9, or zone 10 along the dry West Coast. The first six are floribundas.

easter basket

Fitting for the season, 'Easter Basket' is a multicolored beauty. Depending on its stage of bloom, the flower color varies from creamy yellow to shades of pink.

betty boop

'Betty Boop' produces semi-double blooms from spring to fall. The glossy, dark green foliage provides an attractive frame for its colorful flowers.

burgundy iceberg

'Burgundy Iceberg' shines in dappled shade. I suppose that sounds incongruous, but the rich tones of this lush rose appear a little more washed out in the sunshine.

jump for joy

'Jump for Joy' seems aptly named. The peachy-pink flowers have golden centers.

walking on sunshine

I probably wouldn't stop at this one, except for the name: 'Walking on Sunshine.' The USDA hardiness zone is a little warmer, at 6 to 9, although some sources list it at zone 5.


Various sources list 'Showbiz' with a wider USDA hardiness range--from 4 to 10. I tend to favor the pinks and peaches, but this rose is classy and really captures attention.

mother of pearl

Imagine a bouquet of 'Mother of Pearl.' This grandiflora fits that sweet spot of pink with peachy overtones that makes my heart jump.


'Elle' is a hybrid tea rose with 5-inch blooms. Google search images for "rain drop roses elle hybrid tea" for some stunning eye candy. This one is hardy in USDA zones 6 to 10.


'Brigadoon," another hybrid tea, has a pinky-coral bloom that intensifies as it ages. I remember this one as being much more attractive in person. The shape and color are exquisite.

yabba dabba doo

Who can pass by a shrub rose with the name 'Yabba Dabba Doo'? In addition to its quirky name, this plant's flowers are eye-catching--resting upright and flat atop the foliage.

gold medal 1

This final rose of my post seems noteworthy for its beauty in all stages of blooming. Fully open, the gentle petals of 'Gold Medal,' another hybrid tea, are luscious.

gold medal 2

gold medal 3

And 'Gold Medal' is equally lovely as a gentle bud.


If you need a break from activity, the rose garden also features a circular sitting area, shaded by a lovely rose-covered trellis.

This jewel of a destination is one of many at San Diego's Balboa Park, where you could spend weeks and still find new wonders to explore.

March 18, 2016

Spring Started Without Me

Colorblends Collage

I've been away for a family wedding (more on that later). Look what greeted me when I returned: The 200+ Colorblends bulbs I planted last fall are emerging and beginning to bloom!


The mix includes Siberian Squill (Scilla siberica);


Winter Aconites (Eranthus hyemalis);

crocus 2

... and Tommies (Crocus tommasinianus). The mix also includes Daffodils (Narcissus spp.) and Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxa spp.), which haven't bloomed yet.

I planted most of them in the sheltered, warmer microclimate area by my rock wall. It will be fun to see more of them blooming during the next few weeks.

Other old friends that started blooming while I was gone, include:

hellebore 3

hellebore 2

hellebore 1

Several varieties of Lenten Rose (Helleborus orientalis);


Dutch Crocuses (C. vernus);

snowdrop vase

and Snowdrops. (I think these are Galanthus nivalis 'Flore Pleno.') These beauties were whipped around by our recent windstorm, so I clipped them for display in a bud vase and brought them inside.

More flowering bulbs are preparing to bloom, including other Snowdrops, Crocuses, and Daffodils.

snowdrop buds

white crocus


Looks like these guys will bloom next week, or after our current cold snap.

Many other signs of spring have surprised me this week, including:

sedum 2

sedum 1

Tiny starts of Sedums;


And Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis).

Oh, and the happy results of an experiment:

seedlings 1

A few weeks ago, I'd planted Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) seeds--some from 2014 and some from 2015. Both germinated while I was gone, and it's clear to see that the newer seeds were more viable.

seedlings 2

I'm looking forward to transplanting these to the garden in May--more food for Monarch butterfly caterpillars!

I'm happy to be home to enjoy these first colorful, magical signs of spring!

I'm linking this post to Donna's Seasonal Celebrations meme. Head on over to her blog to read about how other gardeners are welcoming the new season ahead! Wrap-ups for the Garden Lessons Learned meme will appear soon on the PlantPostings Facebook page.

March 06, 2016

Winter Walk-Off: The Big Melt


It appears winter is making a speedy retreat from much of the U.S.

Les, at A Tidewater Gardener, annually hosts a Winter Walk-Off, and most years when I've participated in his meme in late February/early March, winter still had a firm grip here in Wisconsin. This year, spring is asserting itself a little earlier.


Full disclosure: These photos were taken two weeks ago. Since then, the snow and ice completely melted, we had another snowstorm, and now it's nearly melted again.

But this was my winter walk-off.


I chose to walk to Lake Waubesa, which is slightly less than a mile from my house. The sidewalk was a little treacherous, with slippery, melting ice.


Along the way, I noticed many stems with seed heads, including these Goldenrods (Solidago spp.), sparkling in the bright sun.


Squirrels' nests seemed high in the trees this winter, for some reason.


Unfortunately, highly invasive Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) was getting an early start.


As I approached the lake, I could see it was still frozen. Although...


Puddles of melted ice and snow were everywhere.


I was surprised to see many ice fishing shacks still on the lake, although some owners appeared to be preparing them for transport.


The bright sun and mild temperatures were quickly melting the lake ice.


Ice heaving along the shore, common this time of year with the freeze/thaw cycle, was fascinating to see.






Moving a little closer, I peered under the snow and ice wedges to see the worlds beneath.






I imagined tiny creatures skittering beneath the crust of the ice canopy.


Back on land, little lakes formed from quickly melting ice not yet absorbed by the soil.


The volleyball court and the playground were flooded.


The stream leading to the lake was open.



Across the bridge (which I didn't traverse), I could see that the parks system was working on the trails--cutting for the path, clearing away invasive species, thinning the understory, and possibly discarding Ash trees in advance of the Emerald Ash Borer.


It was a beautiful sunny day--we've had many recently--and the perfect day for a winter walk off. Thanks, Les, for hosting the Winter Walk-Off meme.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The Garden Lessons Learned meme is still active. To participate, simply write a post or share one you've already written about your "Lessons Learned" during the past season. Then share your link or simple observations in the comments of my previous post. The link will be available always under the "Lessons Learned" tab at the top of this blog.

Please also join in Donna's Seasonal Celebrations at Gardens Eye View! You can join in with a post that fits both memes, or separate posts for one or both of them. I'll include wrap-ups on PlantPostings' Facebook page as we approach the equinox.

[As winter fades to spring, I'm taking a short break from blogging. I'll be back soon!]