Balboa Park, located at 1549 El Prado, in San Diego, California, is the nation's largest urban cultural park, and home to 15 major museums, renowned performing arts venues, beautiful gardens and the San Diego Zoo. Balboa Park began as 1400 acres of land set aside in 1868 by San Diego civic leaders, and was then known as “City Park.” At that time it was merely a scrub-filled mesa that overlooked present city of San Diego. The first steps in the park's beautification were made in 1892, largely due to the contributions of Kate Sessions. Sessions offered to plant 100 trees a year within the park as well as donate trees and shrubs around San Diego in exchange for 32 acres of land within the park boundaries to be used for her commercial nursery. She is aptly known as the "Mother of Balboa Park."
Balboa Park was the location of the 1915 Panama–California Exposition, and the Park Commissioners decided to name the park in honor of Spanish-born Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, the first European to spot the Pacific Ocean while on exploration in Panama. The very flamboyant "Spanish-Renaissance" style of architecture is what the commissioners felt would best represent the country of Panama. The 1935 California Pacific International Exposition created additional architectural landmarks in the park.
On my last visit to Balboa Park I visited a few of the museums and the world renown San Diego Zoo, which you can read about on this link. This time I planned to spend some time visiting a few of its many gardens that have free admission.
The first garden I visited was the Alcazar Garden, named because its design is patterned after the gardens of Alcazar Castle in Seville, Spain. It lies adjacent to the Art Institute and Mingei Museum. It is known for its ornate fountains, exquisite turquoise blue, yellow, and green Moorish tiles and shady pergola. This formal garden, bordered by boxwood hedges, is planted with 7,000 annuals for a vibrant display of color throughout the year
The next place I visited within the park was the beautiful Botanical Building with its iconic Lily Pond in front.
Built for the 1915-16 Exposition, along with the adjacent Lily Pond, the historic building is one of the largest lath structures in the world. The Botanical Building plantings include more than 2,100 permanent plants, featuring fascinating collections of cycads, ferns, orchids, other tropical plants, and palms.
The Botanical Building also presents some of the Park's vibrant seasonal flower displays.
The filtered light coming through the lath was very pleasant atmosphere.
I enjoyed watching this group of plein air watercolor artists painting outside the Botanical Building.
Next, I visited the two and a half acre Desert Garden, which contains more than 1,300 plants, including succulents and drought-resistant plants from around the world.
San Diego enjoys a semi-arid and Mediterranean type climate, full with mostly sunny days, so this outdoor garden was really flourishing!
Last, and my favorite garden of all, was the Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden.
This three-acre garden displays approximately 2,500 roses of nearly 200 varieties!
It is in bloom from March through December, with the roses usually at their peak in April and May. During my October visit the roses were plentiful and fragrant. I felt as if I were experiencing an endless summer as I strolled along the paths and around the fountains in this lovely, peaceful garden. I love roses and it is always a joy to see so many at one time.
I'll leave you with a few of the many variety of exquisite roses I saw in bloom.
There are many more gardens located within Balboa Park and a full list with descriptions can be read on this link. One could spend an entire vacation visiting Balboa Park, and the best way to start your visit is with a stop at the Balboa Park Visitors Center, located across from The Prado Restaurant in the House of Hospitality. The Visitors Center has the most current and comprehensive information about the park’s activities and attractions, including free guided tours of the park, and is open from 9:30am-4:30pm daily.
Next stop on my San Diego visit will be the beautiful and historical Hotel del Coronado and a special give away!
I'm adding this post to the following blog events:
REDnesday-It's A Very Cherry World
Outdoor Wednesday-A Southern Daydreamer
Watery Wednesday-Watery Wednesday
Show and Tell Friday-My Romantic Home
Friday's Favorites-Whistlestop Cafe Cooking
Pink Saturday-How Sweet the Sound
Many thanks to the blog event hosts!