April is the month of the treasured annual Coronado Flower Show which has been held every year, with the exception of WW II, since 1922. It is the largest tented flower show in the nation, and it will be held April 26-27, 2014, at Spreckels Park in the center of Coronado ($5 admission fee). This year will be my first visit, and I am looking forward to the floral exhibits by our local talent. On-going live music from the central gazebo will make it even more enjoyable.
In conjunction with the flower show, the Coronado home front judging takes place 12 days before. The purpose of this contest is to inspire the community to beautify their gardens ahead of the flower show. From what I can see it works as intended and then some, because they are immaculately groomed year-round. Over 120 volunteers walk the entire city during the three day judging period evaluating every one of the 5,000 home fronts. Approximately 60-90 homes receive blue ribbons. From this group the final top awards are determined. It sounds complex; however, after 89 years of experience they seem to have the routine down.
The list of 2014 Home Front Winners has been published, and I'm on my way to take a look at some of the contestants and winners—perhaps a little too excited, because I managed to trip and fall along the way. I told my husband the good news: I was fine. He didn't appreciate the bad news: the camera broke. That means I'm in the market for another new camera, any suggestions?
The flowers on Coronado are beautiful year round, but spring is the peak. Roses are at their blooming best and words are inadequate to describe them, which is why Gertrude Stein wrote “Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.” They have been on earth for about 40 million years and have been the subject of thousands of books. The French gardens of Monet and Renoir both contained beautiful rose collections and were the subjects of many of their famous paintings.
In addition to the roses, there are dozens of other flowers, shrubs and trees beautifying the home fronts. Among them are hibiscus, azalea, camellia, crimson bottlebrush and the Pride of Madeira. They surround the lovely homes, many of which date back to the early 1900s. Making all of this complete is the California gardeners' love of color—shades of red, pink, yellow, purple, blue, white, and orange are spread throughout.
One of my favorites is the Jacaranda tree. I must agree, however, with my childhood friend Jean, that nothing compares to the fragrance and beauty of Minnesota lilacs in the spring. For many years, after moving to California, Jean made an annual sojourn back to Minnesota in May just to see the lilacs in bloom.
It would be unfair to mention the beauty of the the flowers and trees in San Diego without giving some credit to Kate Sessions (1857-1940). She began her landscaping business in Coronado in the late 1880s. Famous for planting colorful gardens and landscapes for all to enjoy; she was one of the first to introduce bougainvillea and many other original and colorful plants and trees to the area. In 1892, she moved her nursery to Balboa Park, where she agreed to plant 100 trees a year and eventually became know as the “Mother of Balboa Park.” I love the pretty statue of her at the entrance of Balboa Park, it is usually adorned with fresh flowers in her memory.
Her legacy of beautiful and sweet-smelling flowers continues in Coronado.