Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Desert Garden at Balboa Park

I had the pleasure of strolling through the Desert Garden at Balboa Park today. Why I was there is a long, sad tale, but since I was there I planned to enjoy it. I had been there once before, but I was with a stick in the mud…

This morning, when I returned, I was sad that I had not returned sooner. Not only is this garden amazing, but cacti themselves are spectacular. They are so intricate – prickly on the outside but soft, supple, thirsty on the inside. They are green. They flower. They protect themselves, and yet if you allow them to, they can take your breath away with their awesomeness.

In case you didn’t know, I have a near obsession with the Joshua Tree. And somehow, the fact that there are Joshua Trees in San Diego escaped me. I almost cried as I walked around a curve there was a tree of Yeshua beckoning me. I know it is odd that I would have a fascination with a Mormon symbol, but I find the tree, and all it represented, to be fascinating.

I enjoyed cacti today that were so varied – they looked like everything from animals to sea life to cartoons to monsters to palm trees. They can be gi-normous or itsy bitsy. And the prickles – maybe Dolly was actually on to something with her cacti security system. I wish I could draw. I wish I had brought my camera. I tried to find images for you on Google, but all they had were the common ones - saguaro, pear or flowers on barrel cactus...

I saw one that looked like a crab. I saw a flowering pineapple. Sometimes, they look like Dr. Seuss drawings. Sometimes they even look like snails without shells. They look like starfish. There was a tree that looked like a cyclops with an afro. There was another tree that looked as though it was where green beans come from. Another one was literally a million arrows pointing to Heaven.

There was one that I enjoyed very much, but I could not think of an accurate word picture to describe it. It was a brown stick, with rows of tiny green leaves (shaped like stegosaurus back plates – no, not the Thagomizer). Between each leaf was a shiny silver prickle. It reminded me of ants marching to the top; it was very orderly, very uniform, very organized.

Cacti house lizards and birds and spiders. Some can even heal you. And some can possibly get you high.

What a blessing I received today – to be stuck in the Desert Garden at Balboa Park! I really did not want to leave.

Two things I learned while writing this blog:
Regarding grammar: more than one cactus = cacti (cactuses is acceptable)
Regarding succulents: Virtually all cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti.

I added pics of the cactus garden to Brytin's blog. Check 'em out :)


  1. According to the link you put up, Joshua trees only grow in the Mojave desert. (I enjoyed clicking through by the way, I learned a lot.) I guess that means finding them close by isn't too surprising? I don't know.

    Thanks for posting this. I had good visuals listening to you.

  2. Thank you for the comment, Uninvoked! I appreciate hearing that you enjoyed my experience and that I was able to help you visualize these awesome cacti. I'm not much of a "creative" writer, so it was definitely a stretch for me to try to create word pictures.

    To clarify, the ONLY place I have ever seen Joshua Trees is in within the borders of the Mojave Desert, so yes, I was surprised to see that they are capable of grow outside of the desert. I just may have to plant one in my yard :)

    Thank you again for visiting.