McKee Gardens: Lotus Flowers

Lotus Flower Close-up

Lotus Flower and Bud

Lotus Petals on Leaf Pad

Lotus flowers are in full bloom at McKee Gardens.  In many cultures the flower is a symbol of divine beauty, purity, and enlightenment.

San Francisco: Japanese Tea Garden

Entrance to Japanese Tea Garden

Temple Gate at Japanese Tea Garden

Buddhist Pagoda at Japanese Tea Garden

Cloud-Pruned Tree and Stone Lantern at Japanese Tea Garden

Blooming Cherry Tree at Japanese Tea Garden

The Japanese Tea Garden is located in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.  It is the oldest public Japanese garden in the United States.  Makoto Hagiwara ran the garden from 1895 to 1942.  He served the first modern fortune cookie in America at the Tea Garden in the 1890s or early 1900s.  More info is at:

Trees You Won’t Believe!

Basket Tree

Closeup of Basket Tree

Emblem Tree

Optical Illusion Tree

Revolving Door Tree

The world’s most unusual trees can be seen at Gilroy Gardens in Gilroy, California.  These unique trees were twisted, curved, and woven into imaginative shapes by farmer Axel Erlandson in the 1940s for his roadside “Tree Circus” near Santa Cruz.  The trees were featured in LIFE magazine and Ripley’s Believe-It-or-Not”.  Axel used grafting and frameworks to create his tree art.  He found that tree limbs thicken over time, but the shapes remain the same.  When children asked him how he did it, he said, “I talk to the trees”.  Eventually the property was sold and the trees were forgotten.  In 1985 the trees were rescued and moved for display at Gilroy Gardens.  Nineteen of the Circus Trees are on display throughout the park.  If you would like to try your own hand at arborsculpture, information on tree art is at:   More info about Gilroy Gardens is at:  You can watch a television show about the trees by Huell Howser on California’s Gold at:

Seagull with a Mouthful of Starfish!

Seagull Eating a Starfish

I wouldn’t believe it, if I hadn’t seen it myself!  This seagull reached into a tidepool, came up with a starfish, and swallowed it in one giant gulp! 

Long-Billed Curlews Like to Eat Crabs

Long-Billed Curlew with a Crab

Long-Billed Curlew Eating a Crab

Long-Billed Curlew Walking

The long-billed curlew is the largest shorebird in North America.  These sandpipers nest in grasslands of the west in spring, and spend the rest of the year along the coast or water.  The curlew’s extra-long down-curved bill is perfectly suited to catching crabs in their mud burrows.  Our picture of a curlew with a crab in its bill is on a wildlife interpretive sign at San Pablo Park along San Francisco Bay.

Filoli Gardens: Spring Bloom

Filoli Clock Tower, Tulips, and Forget-Me-Nots

Filoli Reflecting Pool and Red Tulips

Purple and White Wisteria on Filoli Mansion

Filoli Hyacinths

Filoli Pink Camellia

Filoli Red Camellias

Filoli Red Camellias

Filoli Oak Tree and Red Tulips

Filoli Redbud Tree Blooming

Filoli Redbud Tree Blooming

Filoli Iris

Filoli Gardens is rated one of the top ten formal gardens in the world!  The spring bloom is always gorgeous.  More info is at:

Anza Borrego Time Travel

Wind God Bird in Nest Bringing Babies a Snake

Wind God Bird Baby in Infrared

Columbian Mammoth

Columbian Mammoth in Infrared


Harlan’s Ground Sloth and Baby

Sculpture Installation Map by Galleta Meadows

Sculpture Installation Map by Galleta Meadows

You feel like you’ve stepped back in time when you see the prehistoric metalworks creatures on the desert plain at Anza Borrego Springs.  All of the animals roamed the area millions of years ago. 

Ricardo Breceda positions each piece of his Sky Art carefully at Galleta Meadows for realism. Breceda hopes that his Sky Art creates a sense of fun and whimsy, and connection to the landscape.  Apparently it does, because people have weekly picnics by the sculptures, and decorate them for the holidays!

A simple driving tour map is pictured above, and a detailed interactive Google map is at:   Maps are also available around town in Borrego Springs.  An interesting article is at

All metal sculpture posts are at:


Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree and Giant Boulders

Joshua Tree and Mojave Desert

Rounded Boulders in Mojave Desert

Joshua Tree Infrared Landscape

Joshua Tree is one of our nation’s newest national parks.  Joshua trees are giant yucca plants that survive extreme heat and cold in California’s Mojave desert.  The park’s classic Western landscape has been filmed extensively for movies and television.  The desert scenery is spectacular!

“Shy Daisy” a Semi-Finalist in Nature’s Best Backyards Photo Contest

Gazania in Rain

Our “shy daisy” is a semi-finalist in Nature’s Best Backyards Photography Contest.  This gazania is a favorite of bees and butterflies.  When it rains, the flower’s petals fold over to protect its pollen.  I couldn’t help but think that it looked like a shy daisy hiding its face from a storm!

Anna’s Hummingbird in NWF Magazine

Anna's Hummingbird

Our hummingbird picture is in the current issue of National Wildlife Federation magazine (February/March 2012) on page 10, illustrating their article on hummingbirds!  You can read the article online at:

We took this Anna’s hummingbird picture at Arastradero Preserve in Palo Alto, California.  We had entered it in a NWF photo contest awhile back, and they must have saved it in their files for future use. 

Our Best Sea Otter Picture

Sea Otter

Sea Otter

Our best sea otter picture was previously an e-card for the National Wildlife Federation from 2011-13.  This classic picture of a female otter is one of our all-time favorites!

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