I knew we were getting close to the Old Cactus Garden when the palm plantings started to thin out and blooming Agave attenuata started appearing.
Here's a sad truth about the plants everywhere in Balboa Park...
Because entrance is free and the park is open 24-hrs a day, 365 days a year, it's impossible for them to keep a lid on the vandalism. For the most part the park is quite pristine, but seeing names and initials etched into the plants had me fairly disgusted with my fellow human beings.
That arched bridge is how we entered the park.
The Old Cactus Garden was "developed under the direction of Kate Sessions for the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition. It contains some of the largest cactus and succulent specimens in the Park and has also been developed to include exotic African and Australian Protea plants." (source)
I have to admit that as we approached I wasn't expecting much, but I ended up being completely charmed by this garden.
I imagine they're messy as hell but I do love pepper trees (Schinus molle, I believe).
None of the plants had labels, and I don't know my banksias well enough to tell you which one this is.
Bad bad bad people.
This patient little guy sat here long enough for me to move and line up an opuntia pad behind him, he was nearly impossible to see otherwise.
Equal screen time for the little reptiles, do you see him? He wasn't so easy to position for the photo.
That's a nice opuntia tree!
The sky had me worried, in the end all it did was provide a nice bit of drama.
The fact there are no labels on the plants probably drives some people crazy. I actually enjoyed the lack of visual clutter.
This image I shared in a previous post was taken here, in the Old Cactus Garden.
There was another container that had sustained a little damage. It looks like someone was scared off while stealing cuttings but I doubt it. Probably just a careless passer-by.
Stressed color on the trunk? Sunburn? Or normal?
These next photos were taken in front of the Balboa Park Club, which backs up against the Old Cactus Garden. The plantings appear to be much younger than those in the OCG proper.
I thought that Agave desmettiana looked pretty healthy for having a bloom spike with bulbils on it.
A closer inspection revealed what was really happening.
That's it for the this part of our visit to Balboa Park. Next week we'll visit the Lath House, aka the Botanical Building and the Australian Garden...
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