Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Japanese Friendship Garden In San Diego Is Blooming And Growing

Who doesn't love it when a spur of the moment decision works out better than if you had planned in advance.

On an afternoon when I needed some distraction from life, my daughter and I did something we had talked about doing for about two years--that is, to visit San Diego's Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park, together. She is obsessed with all things Japanese and I am obsessed with gardens. And we could have green tea and eat Japanese noodles at the tea house cafe on site. It would be the perfect mother-daughter date.

But something always seemed to interfere--mostly school and work schedules, and--well-- just life, so we never actually made a plan to do it.  I had visited the garden, but not with my daughter.

But yesterday, out of the blue, we realized we would be in the vicinity of Balboa Park in mid afternoon with some time on our hands. We would have one hour to walk the garden and, of course, the weather was gorgeous. Should we go? Yes!

Blooming shrubs in the foreground are rhaphiolepsis indica, or Indian Hawthorne

 Spring can be a particularly beautiful season in a Japanese garden because the plants frequently used are spring bloomers only.

And this one is no exception.  Lots of cherry trees were crazy in bloom. 

 The azaleas as well. 

And the lovely scent of wisteria wafted in the air from blooms just opening on the pergola above us at the pond.

 Not only was there a rush of scent and spring color, but also a rush of people in the park. It was the third Tuesday of the month, which means free admission to the garden and museums in the park for San Diego county residents, students and military. Score!

The pond was bustling with kids and koi.

It seemed everyone had a camera and was snapping up portraits of plants and people in the garden.

The good news is that they have expanded the garden into a canyon and although this section isn't open to the public yet, it is visible.  The addition of this footbridge 

and the landscaping in the canyon looks beautiful. I can't wait to come back and walk through it!

The Japanese Friendship Garden happened to be a perfect distraction on one of those days when life proves it is not always friendly. And it was the perfect time to share it with my daughter.

Happy First Day of Spring!

This is GardenEnvy.

Copyright 2013 by Jeannine. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Hortense Miller Garden Destined To Thrive In Laguna Beach, California

 Hortense Miller is a bit of a legend
               for being an avid gardener.

 The Laguna Beach, California, resident tended two and one half acres at her home, much of it on a canyon slope near the Pacific Ocean, for almost half of her life.  She died in 2008 at age 99 and just six weeks short of her 100th birthday.  Her garden, however, continues to thrive and that is exactly what she wanted.

I suspect Ms. Miller worried about what would happen to her garden when she would no longer be able to take care of it. With no heir to inherit the property, and being passionate about this patch of Earth that she created, Ms. Miller gave the property to the city of Laguna Beach in the 1970's with the provision that she would live there, and that it would remain a wild garden and be open to the public.  The Friends of the Hortense Miller Garden provide the upkeep as well as tours, usually arranged by reservation through the city.

Last week, on March 9, Friends of  Hortense Miller Garden hosted a successful open house that was attended by 606 visitors, including myself.

Several artists were on hand to paint the garden on canvas during the open house, 
and dancers performed also.

Meanwhile, I meandered down paths through this hillside known as Boat Canyon,

past the perennials,

admiring the frequent use of tree trunks to create rugged paths, and amazed at the thought of Ms. Miller navigating this garden in her senior years, as she was known to do!

There is plenty to take in, including a large variety of botany.

 The scent of jasmine wafts faintly in the air; while the eye travels

 to the ocean,

 to the canyon view across the way,

and back to a gorgeous specimen of succulent in the garden. 

The birds are chirping and bees buzz from flower to flower here.

On the patio, there are several vines trained on the pergola,
 including this Japanese wisteria just starting to open

and this gorgeous Lady Banks' rose.

The cherry tree (although it remains fruitless this close to the ocean), is bursting into bloom.

While reading a 2005 Los Angeles Times newspaper article about Ms. Miller, I learned that "Hortense" in Latin means gardener. She said then that the meaning of her name is coincidence. 
 But I have to say that I disagree. 

 It seems she found her purpose in life, and definitely meaning in her life, by being a gardener. It only makes sense that her first name is Hortense.

This is GardenEnvy.

Copyright by Jeannine 2013. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Portland's Chinese Garden Sows Good Fortune And Joy

The Lan Su Chinese Garden
in Portland, Oregon is an urban oasis.

It is a classic Chinese garden that, surprisingly, opened only 12 years ago and features traditional Chinese garden elements of water,



Weeping katsura

and trees, all centered around a pond.

Winter jasmine,  (Jasminum nudiflorum) lower right

And despite the occasional office buildings visible just beyond, it is possible to escape from a hectic day in this American city and be transported--via garden--to a faraway land. You will enjoy a few valuable moments of serenity.

When I visited here February 23, the garden was decked out in red lanterns for the typical 15-day celebration of the Chinese new year.

This is the year of the snake--one of the 12 symbols of the Chinese zodiac. Snakes are born in the years 1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013 and 2025. Their lucky flowers (yes, lucky flowers) are orchids and cactus.

The color red is commonly used in Chinese celebrations because it is a cultural symbol of good fortune and joy.

Camellia transnokoensis,
Fragrant tea flower

I considered it my good fortune to visit the garden on a day 
when Spring was beginning to bloom in a most charming way. Flower buds beginning to open up--joy!

Prunus mume, Chinese flowering plum tree
I fell in love with this vignette, tree branches in bloom with delicate pink buds against a backdrop of thick and rich green, moss-covered roof tiles. Mossy growth is everywhere in this city, the land of the resident rain cloud. But it was also my good fortune that the weather was better than anyone anticipated. This is winter in the Northwest after all, and the weather forecast for the two day weekend I visited went something like this: rain, rain and more rain, all day and all night.

 As it turned out, I never had to use my umbrella at all.
Good fortune and joy!

It was chilly in the 40's and I saw mostly gray skies, but there were some blue skies now and then too, particularly while I was at the garden.

This is the New Year tree of wishes and money; it is hung with ancient Chinese coins and red ribbons.  (I found myself wishing money trees would grow in my garden.)

I came to visit the Chinese garden to see the evening celebration. I didn't know about the colorful lion dance that would be performed during the day

but I was particularly looking forward to the night-time lantern festival. The pond was beautiful--covered with brightly lit lanterns

 while guests were entertained with the red Chinese Dragon.
And all without a raindrop. Good fortune and joy!

The red camellia japonica shrub, "Drama girl" was in bloom

and she was a beauty.

Winter jasmine was just beginning to bloom, with branches splayed at the edges of the pond.

But my favorite bloom was this,

the Chinese paper bush (Egeworthia chrysantha), with its cheery spray of tiny, yellow flowers,
 shining bright like the sun throughout the garden.

The paper bush resembles the sun and the Chinese garden isn't complete

without moon gates that resemble, well, the moon.

I was fortunate to have some sunshine during the day but it was by the light of a silvery, full moon that I left the garden that evening. And it occurs to me that I had the perfect ending to a joyful day in another beautiful garden.

This is GardenEnvy.

Copyright 2013 by Jeannine.  All Rights Reserved.