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17 . Balboa Park Gardens

Balboa Park in San Diego boasts 19 beautiful gardens, each showcasing a multitude of colorful flowers and plants from around the world.

Alcazar Garden Balboa Park

Alcazar Garden is located close to the Mingei Museum and San Diego Art Institute in Balboa Park. Designed to resemble the gardens of Alcazar Castle in Seville, Spain, Alcazar Garden Balboa Park is known for its bright colors, ornate fountains and beautiful Moorish tiles. Alcazar Garden includes more than 7,000 annuals each year.

Botanical Building and Lily Pond

The Balboa Park Botanical Building, built for the 1915 Panama California Exposition, and the Balboa Park Lily Pond in front of it, showcase rare tropical and subtropical plants.

Desert Garden Balboa Park

Desert Garden spans 2.5 acres and displays a colorful collection of more than 1300 drought-resistant plants from around the world. Desert Garden is in peak bloom between January through March, but is a great garden to visit any time of year to see many unusual plants in unique shapes and sizes.

Japanese Garden Balboa Park

Located near Spreckels Organ Pavilion, the Japanese Friendship Garden includes two acres of calming, winding paths, a Zen garden, an exhibit house, koi pond and bonsai exhibit. On weekends, visit the Japanese Friendship garden for classes in Japanese conversation, sushi making, bonsai and calligraphy.

Rose Garden Balboa Park

There is something wonderfully luxurious about roses, and at the Balboa Park Rose Garden you can enjoy 2,500 of them, in nearly 200 varieties, blooming on more than three acres. Built in 1975, the Rose Garden is located on the east side of Park Boulevard, across from the fountain in Balboa Park. As home gardeners know, roses can be a lot of work. The Rose Garden's annual pruning takes a crew of eight or nine workers about two weeks to complete, but the results are always worth the effort. February is the only month when Balboa Garden is without color.

San Diego Zoo Gardens

When you visit the San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park, you can enjoy the zoo gardens as well as the animals. The zoo's huge animal collection is set inside a 100-acre garden, covered with towering eucalyptus, graceful palms, exotic colorful birds-of-paradise and hibiscus. A master plan subdivides San Diego Zoo into climactic zones inhabited by combinations of plants and animals found together in nature. One example is the Tiger River rain forest replica that incorporates palm, fig, coral and ginger trees, and a man-made marsh with cattails and reeds, for a total of more than 400 species of plants in that bio-climate alone.

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