Sunday, September 11, 2011

Mission San Diego Garden Cultivates Spirit And Soul

               The Mission San Diego De Alcala is the first of 21 missions that were built in California by the Spaniards.  I recall when my daughter had to do a grade school project to recreate a model of a mission and she chose this. I loved the mini terra cotta pots we found to flank the entrance with plants, just as the church is today.  We enjoyed attending church services there and afterwards we always spent time in this small garden.  Recently I visited the Mission after being away for a while and, just as I remember, it is still charming and always seems to lift my spirit.

          The church is a Basilica because of its historical significance.  The Mission was built in 1769 and like the church, the garden is quaint, simple and small.  But it is definitely a San Diego garden, planted with bougainvillea, palms, roses, aloe, orange and even pomegranate trees.   


Outside the church entrance, the garden has several pomegranate trees ripening for the fall season. I immediately wondered why I never planted this gem in my own small garden.

Just think of the possibilities: pomegranate seeds for yogurt and salad, pomegranate margaritas and Thanksgiving tablescapes with red pomegranates from the garden. And they are healthy for the heart so they must be good for the soul, especially if you cultivate your own. Alleluia!

And, of course, there are always bells at the Missions. I understand they were used as clocks back in the day, ringing when it was time to eat or pray. This is the bell tower from the inside of the garden, flanked  by trees and bougainvillea. On the left is a narrow and roughly made stairway.


The small courtyard garden is divided into four, paved with red tiles that echo the roof and embellish the white structure of the buildings.

This huge palm is quite stunning inside the small yard. 

Several benches in the courtyard provide a shady spot to linger, enjoy the view or perhaps meditate.

The fountain on the plaza east of the church is surrounded by the ubiquitous pepper trees.

This hibiscus was one of the prettiest blooms in sight.

And finally, the view of the garden gate from the inside of the garden  is one of my favorite vignettes here.

    Simple, and unrefined--yet this small garden will help soothe my soul on any day of the week. Can I get an Amen?