Wednesday, August 14, 2013

And Then the Garden . . . .

Whenever we go away I get inspired by the gardens, landscapes, and various other things, to the point where I can hardly wait to get home to try out some of those new ideas. Among my favorite places are botanical gardens of any kind - or just walking around neighborhoods in other places to see what people are doing with their yards. On our first full day in Carlsbad, Joe and I, along with Gregg and the kids, visited the San Diego Botanical Garden, and what a delight it was!

Dante really didn't want to leave his electronic devices in the car at first, but he quickly got into the spirit of the place. Among the first things we saw were these crazy trees - it was mid-afternoon and they looked like they'd begun the cocktail hour early:
I knew the corks in our wine bottles came from trees but had never seen one; the trunk on this one was at least 3 feet wide:
We found a lovely gazebo
orchids growing wild,
along with many different bromeliads
and a rainforest complete with waterfall:

In another area we found this shed covered with vines and strange blossoms as big as dinner plates.
The white thing is like a balloon containing nectar that insects feed on; one of the gardeners said she thought it was a variety of Dutchman's pipe, though I think those are usually smaller. When that chamber bursts open it's filled with a sooty substance that you can see on the ground around the garbage can (I really should have moved that before I took the picture!).

Of course there were other strange and wonderful flowers as well, like these:

and we learned where bananas come from,
and were reminded of the importance of balance in nature
when we got to the bamboo grove, where we saw this gigantic bamboo sculpture
and various varieties of that amazing plant, including gorgeous painted bamboo:
Geneva and Dante located a lily pond
and Geneva's sharp eyes spotted its tiny, jewel-like residents

Then we moved on a Mexican-themed area, complete with lovely dancers and a mariachi band, all life-sized and dressed in succulents, a delightful variation on the topiaries we see in so many other places.

and further along the path we were reminded again of the importance of nature in our lives:
At last we came to the children's garden, full of whimsical sculptures and a variety of activity areas:

including a wonderful and elaborate treehouse with several entrances and exits at different levels.
These bromeliads are growing on tree limbs high above the ground. In the lower left corner of the this photo you can see a xylophone made of flat stones, each of which has its own distinct rich and complex musical tone, so you can actually play "real" music on it. 
(Yes, I did climb up to the top, and so did Joe.)
That area below contained several other music makers, and nearby Dante beat everyone at tic-tac-toe played on a permanent board laid out in the sand, about four feet square, with X's and O's a foot wide and made of wood. But that's where my camera ran out of energy, just after I caught Dante relaxing in the giant's chair. We left shortly after that.

Surprisingly, in many less planned and developed areas, we found cacti and cholla just like the ones here at home. And of course, I came back excited to try out some new gardening ideas based on what we saw there. It's nice to go away, but it's also nice to come home, especially when there's some vacation time left in which to recover from the vacation!

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