December 06, 2017

And Now for Some Colorful California Memories

Mixed bed

I won't say I like or want snow, but a few too many days of brown and gray have me longing for color and brightness.

So, let's take a trip to San Diego's Balboa Park, shall we? Back in March 2016, we traveled to San Diego for a family wedding, and I had a little free time to explore. Three other previous posts cover The San Diego Botanic Garden, Balboa Park's Rose Garden, and the Zoro Garden at Balboa Park.

This post covers plants you might see while strolling through Balboa Park's paths and parkways.


For instance, Bird of Paradise plants (Strelitzia reginae) are abundant. This plant reminds me of my dear grandmother, as I'm told it was one of her favorites.


One would expect to find Poppies, and there are many--both native species and others, like this Iceland Poppy (Papaver nudicaule).


Pride of Madeira (Echium candicans), a lovely, dramatic bloomer, is a common plant in the area, too.

Echium bee

Where you see Echium plants, you're likely to see many, busy pollinators.


Tropical Hibiscus flowers (H. rosa-sinensis) greet with volume, intensity, and flair.

Clivia walkway

There's a pathway just beyond the zoo that incorporates bright orange and yellow Clivia plants (C. miniata).

Clivia 1

This is a pleasant sight to see after several months of winter.

Clivia 2

The snails like them, too!

Topiary walkway

The pathways throughout Balboa Park are well-maintained and attractive, and encourage comfortable strolls.


This pathway incorporates elephant topiaries.


A highlight of Balboa Park is its historic botanical building. Unfortunately, it was closed during my visit--another reason to return! The lath structure is surrounded by a reflecting pond and beautiful bedding plants.

Adopt a Plot

The Friends of Balboa Park, encourage their Adopt-a-Plot program.

Exploring Balboa Park after spending the winter in the Midwest is like waking from a long, deep sleep. It's cathartic and euphoric, in the best senses of those words. After only a couple hours in Balboa Park, I felt refreshed and renewed, and I returned with nearly 250 plant photos. Here are just a few more notable beauties:

Bulbine (B. frutescens)

Red Tulips (Tulipa spp.)

Rudbeckia 'Irish Eyes'
Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta 'Irish Eyes')

Indian Hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis indica)

Blue Plumbago (P. auriculata)

Snapdragons (Antirrhinum spp.)

Heliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens)

Blanket Flower (Gaillardia spp.)

Gaura (G. lindheimeri)

Flannel Bush (Fremontodendron californicum)

Honeywort (Cerinthe major)

Orchid Tree (Bauhinia purpurea)

Dwarf Fan Palm (Chamaerops humilis)

Bottlebrush (Callistemon seiberi or C. pallidus)

Part of me wants to fly to San Diego and skip the winter, but that won't happen this year. Plus, a warm vacation means so much more after surviving a cold winter. (At least that's what I keep telling myself.)

* * * * * * * * * * *

[Special note: My thoughts and prayers are with those north of San Diego dealing with wildfires, and for people who will deal with the threat and the recovery in the days ahead.]

November 28, 2017

A Few Fleshy Fruits of Autumn

Viburnum 2

Garden blooms are gone and foliage is fading in my neighborhood, but a few fruits remain here and there. Some will last through the winter, while others offer happy feasts for birds and critters as winter's cold, icy claw will soon grip the landscape.

As I glance around the garden, the berries, drupes, pomes and other fruits catch my eye amidst the brown and gray of "once lush" trees, shrubs, and forbs. I'll refer you to a list of types of fruits for proper identification.

Can you identify what types of fruits (berries, drupes, pomes, hesperidia, other) are shown here?:


Cranberrybush Viburnum (V. trilobum)


Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina)


Pachysandra (P. terminalis)


Yew (Taxis canadensis)


Crabapples (unknown Malus cultivar)


Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)

Those are a few of the outdoor fruits; here are two I overwinter in the sunroom:


Developing Fuchsia fruit (F. 'Marinka')


Meyer Lemon (Citrus x meyeri)

Can you correctly classify these fruits? What fruits are growing and ripening in your garden?

[Disclaimer: Not all of the fruits shown here are edible to humans! Research before you consume the parts of any unfamiliar plant!]

November 22, 2017

November's Gratitude

Thanksgiving 2017

'Give thanks
for each new morning
with its light,
for rest and shelter
of the night,
for health and food,
for love and friends,
for everything
thy goodness sends.'

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

November 14, 2017

I Am a Trailtessa

oak savanna

Occasionally, I stray from the plant-specific tagline of this blog to share an experience that ties closely with that theme. Earlier this autumn, on a late-September day that felt more like high summer, a friend and I participated in a hiking event with Wisconsin women of all ages--from young children to seniors.

As defined by the Ice Age Trail Alliance (IATA), we were/are all "Trailtessas."



A Trailtessa is: "a woman or a girl who gets out on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail to experience adventure, freedom, and a new way to be." The IATA has put together a creative, impressive collection of opportunities for Trailtessas in the months ahead.

For those unfamiliar with the Ice Age Trail, it's a thousand-mile footpath winding through some of Wisconsin's most beautiful natural areas. The trail follows the outline of unique landscape features left behind as the last major glacier retreated from this area, more than 12,000 years ago. The trail is entirely within Wisconsin, and is one of 11 U.S. National Scenic Trails. I've been an IATA member for several years now: It's a worthy cause and a national treasure!


At the September event, the IATA offered information, resources, and even a few "freebies" as part of our minimal registration fee. We had to "work" for our reward, though. The event offered three trail options--from a short loop to a 2.9-mile hike. Most of us chose the latter. It was a hot day with temperatures in the 90s, and the trail looped up and down some moderate hills. But we persevered.


The reward: a lovely farm-to-table meal prepared by an excellent, local sous chef and her team. The outdoor venue was lovely, complete with 360-degree views of restored prairie and Oak savanna landscapes.


Our sponsors were generous!


Our chef was Jamie Hoang, of Sujeo restaurant in Madison. Yum, the food was excellent!

It was such a positive experience--to hike, dine, converse, and experience with other Trailtessas such a beautiful segment of the Ice Age Trail. And as the event wound down, we witnessed the colorful glow of a stunning sunset on the landscapes all around us.

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I look forward to participating in more Trailtessa events in the months ahead.