The Great Gardens of Balboa


Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Meggysmum on August 30, 2012

All of the gardens around Balboa Park are free to enter with the exception of the Japanese Friendship garden which looked like it was still under construction anyway.

The gardens are dotted around the Park and each has their own individual style so it is worth making time to visit at least a few.

We started with the two gardens which were across Park Boulevard. Although this is a busy road access is easy due to the Pedestrian Bridge which can be reached near the Natural History Museum.

The Desert garden is beautifully landscaped on a slope with a bewildering array of cactus and succulent plants. Having been in the desert a few days earlier we found that this was a good interpretation of what we had seen. The path curved cleverly around the plants but I was disappointed to find that the path wasn’t designed in a loop, once you got to one end you could walk back the way you came or back along the sidewalk. Unfortunately many of the cacti had been damaged by people inscribing their names with knives which leaves nasty scars on the plants. We visited on a very hot day and the rocks dotted around the desert garden radiated heat too which made the short walk quite tiring and there were no seats to stop and admire the scenery.

The Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose garden is located next to the Desert garden. This beautifully laid out garden was ablaze with colour and alive with wonderful fragrance. I really wasn’t expecting to be impressed as I have seen many rose gardens but this one was stunning. All of the plants were in full bloom and looked extremely healthy. The garden is laid out around a central structure which provided seating and shade but there were also places to sit around the fountains. Visiting in August I didn’t expect to see so many blooms but it seems the area has plants in bloom from March through to December.

The Alcazar garden is located by the Museum of the Living Artist. This formally laid out garden offers many shady spots amongst the Box hedges. We have visited Cadiz in Spain and the colourful blue and yellow ornate tile work immediately reminded us of our travels there. The cooling fountains and the peaceful nature of this garden were very rejuvenating on a busy Sunday afternoon.

Casa del ray Moro garden is another garden based on Moorish design and it was reconstructed and re-opened in the late 90s. The garden is small with a lot of hard landscaping but there is also a wishing well so you could always try your luck with a coin.

The Lily Pond is located in front of the Botanical Buildings and offers the visitor chance to see many colourful, flowering lilies on the water as well as offering some beautiful photographic opportunities. This was part of the original 1915 design.

The park also offers other gardens that we didn’t get chance to visit such as Palm Canyon near the Old Globe. We missed this completely and only spotted it on the map after our visit. It is supposed to be a quiet and shady haven which was fully restored in 2001 with some of the original plant groups dating back to 1912.

Balboa Park is beautifully designed with plants throughout but it is certainly worth taking the time to visit the many differing gardens that are available.
Balboa Park
1549 El Prado
San Diego, California, 92101
(619) 239 0512

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