Early winter color in a Japanese garden.

It’s early winter here in Southern California. Most trees are shedding their leaves at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park, but many colorful branches still show a vivid beauty.

I took a slow walk through the Lower Garden this afternoon. Bright yellows and oranges attracted my camera. Here are some photos of early winter beauty in one of San Diego’s most amazing places, the Japanese Friendship Garden.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can enjoy even more Cool San Diego Sights by following me on Facebook or Twitter!

Do you like to read original, thought-provoking fiction? To read a few stories I’ve written, click Short Stories by Richard.

Walking through beauty in Palm Canyon.

Balboa Park’s shady Palm Canyon contains several dirt trails. Select one, then descend into beauty.

Sunlight shines mysteriously through translucent green palm fronds and leaves. Magical light touches your path in unexpected places.

Walk slowly. Look up and all around…

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can enjoy even more Cool San Diego Sights by following me on Facebook or Twitter!

Shadow magic at Natural History Museum.

I was walking through Balboa Park this evening shortly before sundown, just letting my eyes wander at random, when I noticed all sorts of complex shadows around and upon the San Diego Natural History Museum.

The fantastic shadows and effects of light appeared to me like strange magic. So I took a few photographs…

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can enjoy even more Cool San Diego Sights by following me on Facebook or Twitter!

House of Hospitality courtyard garden replanted!

Some say the House of Hospitality is the heart of Balboa Park. I can understand why. Visitors who pass through the courtyard colonnade might feel they’ve wandered into a beautiful dream.

The House of Hospitality’s fantastic architecture, interior garden and iconic sculpture by Donal Hord appear like a painting of paradise. An eternal canvas into which the living step–if only for a moment.

With the recent refreshing of the historic garden’s four corner planters, the Spanish Colonial courtyard is more alive and welcoming than ever.

Originally created for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, the House of Hospitality was rebuilt by architect Richard Requa for the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition. In 1997 the building was recreated as accurately as possible from historical documents.

Before sunset today I walked about the courtyard, read a sign which described the garden’s revitalization, then climbed stairs to the second floor balcony.

Sunlight was slanting into the outdoor courtyard, turning many of its trees and plants bright green. And high above it all, up in the blue sky, shined that eternally amazing tower…

Sign explains how aging plants in the House of Hospitality's courtyard garden were replanted and refreshed, with the help of Urban Corps of San Diego.
Sign explains how aging plants in the House of Hospitality’s courtyard garden were replanted and refreshed, with the help of Urban Corps of San Diego.

At the center of the House of Hospitality courtyard is Woman of Tehuantepec, a 1935 sculpture and fountain by Donal Hord.
At the center of the House of Hospitality’s courtyard is Woman of Tehuantepec, a 1935 sculpture and fountain by Donal Hord.

In one of the four planters is a time capsule placed on September 13, 1997, to be opened May 29, 2035, the centennial of the California Pacific International Exposition.
In one of the four planters is a time capsule placed on September 13, 1997, to be opened May 29, 2035, the centennial of the California Pacific International Exposition.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can enjoy even more Cool San Diego Sights by following me on Facebook or Twitter!

Historic tree, plaque removed from Balboa Park.

A historic tree that once stood at the center of Balboa Park's International Cottages has been cut down.
A historic tree that once stood at the center of Balboa Park’s International Cottages has been cut down.

I’m sure there must have been a good reason for the tree’s removal. Perhaps it had become unsafe.

According to a bronze plaque, the tree was planted near the center of Balboa Park’s International Cottages in 1932. The tree was dedicated in honor of Arthur E. Vest, Department Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. That historic plaque is now gone, too.

Perhaps someone reading this knows the complete story. If you do, please leave a comment.

I’ve been told by several people from the cottages that one day, a few months ago, a crew from San Diego Parks and Recreation simply cut the big shady tree down. One person that I spoke to today couldn’t provide a specific reason, but thought the tree’s removal had been carefully considered. I do hope so.

Now the tree and its plaque are gone. Just an image in some old photographs . . . or a slowly fading memory . . .

UPDATE!

I’ve learned that the oak tree had suffered a beetle infestation and was removed to protect other trees in Balboa Park. The historic plaque has been thankfully preserved. Its new home is the headquarters of the Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Museum in Springfield, Illinois.

To learn more about the tree and the life of Arthur E. Vest, please visit this page of the National Woman’s Relief Corps website!

A photo of the old shady tree as it once lived in Balboa Park. It was removed one day and now it's gone.
A photo of the shady tree as it once lived in Balboa Park. It was removed one fateful day and now it’s gone.
Someone stands on the stump of the tree during a lawn program at the International Cottages.
Someone stands on the stump of the tree during a recent lawn program at the International Cottages.
Shortly after the tree was cut down, the plaque still remained.
Shortly after the tree was cut down, the plaque still remained.
Dedicated in Honor of Arthur E. Vest, Department Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, by the Womans Relief Corps Department of California and Nevada, May 16, 1932.
Dedicated in Honor of Arthur E. Vest, Department Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, by the Woman’s Relief Corps Department of California and Nevada, May 16, 1932.
And now the plaque is gone, too. A bit of history vanishes.
And now the plaque and its words have been removed, too. A bit of San Diego history is gone.

I live in downtown San Diego. I do my best to keep my eyes wide open as I walk.

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Lone cherry tree has early blossoms!

A small handful of early cherry blossoms have appeared at the Japanese Friendship Garden!
A few early cherry blossoms have appeared at the Japanese Friendship Garden!

NEWS FLASH!

A solitary cherry tree at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park has made history! It appears to be the very first in the garden to display blossoms this year!

Many more blossoms in the beautiful grove of Japanese cherry trees should be appearing soon!

This branch of one Japanese cherry tree has a few newly opened blossoms in mid-February.
This branch of one Japanese cherry tree has a few newly opened blossoms in mid-February.
All of the many cherry trees in the Lower Garden seem bare--except one lone tree that I found...
All of the many cherry trees in the Lower Garden seem bare–except one lone tree that I found…
Spring must be coming!
Spring must be coming!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can enjoy even more Cool San Diego Sights by following me on Facebook or Twitter!

Passion, life and inspiration in Balboa Park.

Walk around beautiful Balboa Park and you will discover passion, life and inspiration. Everywhere.

Please enjoy some photographs that I took over the weekend.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can enjoy even more Cool San Diego Sights by following me on Facebook or Twitter!

Do you like to read original, thought-provoking fiction? To read a few stories about life that I’ve written, click Short Stories by Richard.