Category Archives: California

Two intersections in Diamond Bar: The Grand Avenue Beautification Project

In 2015 the city of Diamond Bar completed their Grand Avenue Beautification project, which included redesigning the medians and parkways of the Grand Avenue / Diamond Bar Boulevard and Grand Avenue / Longview Drive intersections. The landscape architecture work was done by David Volz Design.

Happily enough, Diamond Bar Boulevard aims directly at Mt. Baldy, creating a view no photographer can resist*:

Mt. Baldy (Mount San Antonio) seen from the southern side of the Diamond Bar Boulevard and Grand Avenue intersection in Diamond Bar. Rocks, median art, and flowering plants (yellow yuccas - Hesperaloe parviflora) are all visible, including a car. The stoplight is showing all green lights and a green left turn signal. This was part of the 2015 rebuild of the Grand Avenue and Diamond Bar Boulevard intersection for Diamond Bar's 2015 "Grand Avenue Beautification" project, landscape architecture for the project was by David Volz Design.
Mt. Baldy (Mount San Antonio) seen from the southern side of the Diamond Bar Boulevard and Grand Avenue intersection in Diamond Bar.

The Longview Drive intersection is at the eastern edge of the city, and features a new entrance sign for the city:

A full view near sunrise of the sign at the eatern edge of Diamond Bar's Grand Ave. This was part of the 2015 rebuild of the Grand Avenue and Longview Drive intersection for Diamond Bar's 2015 "Grand Avenue Beautification" project, landscape architecture for the project was by David Volz Design.
A full view of the sign at the eastern edge of Diamond Bar’s Grand Ave.

The sign is pretty just after sunrise, but the copper elements really stand out when it’s diffusely lit:

The entrance sign to Diamond Bar on the eastern edge of the city. This image, taken in the shade, highlights the coppery accents of the sign. This was part of the 2015 rebuild of the Grand Avenue and Longview Drive intersection for Diamond Bar's 2015 "Grand Avenue Beautification" project, landscape architecture for the project was by David Volz Design.
The entrance sign to Diamond Bar on the eastern edge of the city.

Iron plates form a repeating theme through the project, serving not just as elements on the entrance sign, but also as artistic inserts on parkway columns, display pieces in medians, and tree grates.

Metallic cutouts with a windmill pattern are frequent in the Grand Ave. corridor; this one is on the large entrance sign on the eastern edge of the city. This was part of the 2015 rebuild of the Grand Avenue and Longview Drive intersection for Diamond Bar's 2015 "Grand Avenue Beautification" project, landscape architecture for the project was by David Volz Design.
Metallic cutouts with a windmill pattern are frequent in the Grand Ave. corridor; this one is on the large entrance sign on the eastern edge of the city.

Continue reading Two intersections in Diamond Bar: The Grand Avenue Beautification Project

Map for my Costa Mesa to Newport Back Bay loop. Map data from Google 2016; ride details from RideWithGPS.

Ride: Newport Back Bay loop from Costa Mesa

Introduction

Newport Back Bay seen from Castaways Park.
Newport Back Bay seen from Castaways Park.

Newport Back Bay is a gem of central Orange County.   It’s a wetlands estuary located just inland from Newport Harbor, and has roughly six miles of paved bike path that allow you to ride only feet away from nature.  The views can be gorgeous, and I’ve seen many stunning sunsets while riding it.

For years I suggested that my students do an outdoor project at Newport Back Bay, and many came back saying “I never knew this was there; I loved it!”

However, actually cycling around Newport Back Bay is more complicated than it should be because the bicycle path does not actually form a complete loop around the bay.  On the eastern side the bike trail ends about a quarter mile north of PCH, and then doesn’t truly start up again until about a mile and a half north of PCH on the western side.  Thus, riders wanting to do a true loop must fend for themselves and figure out how to get through PCH and city streets to get back to the trail.

Route

I’ve created a complete loop with detailed notes in RideWithGPS: Costa Mesa -> Newport Back Bay Loop, and embedded a live view of the route below.  When starting from Estancia Park in Costa Mesa the route is just about 19 miles round trip and gains a total of 450 feet of elevation. Continue reading Ride: Newport Back Bay loop from Costa Mesa

A portion of Newport Beach's skyline at night

Newport Beach at Night

Lately I’ve started bicycling longer distances1, and as I’m riding, I’m seeing more of my local area. So many of the bicycle paths lead to stunning views, not to mention the gorgeous little parks.

But now that it’s winter I’m out riding a lot at night. Night changes so much about the landscape, especially in urban areas where a single bright point-source of light (the sun or moon) is replaced by multiple small light sources, many of which are different colors and intensities. Combine the change in illumination with a requirement for long exposure times and you have a recipe for a dramatic visual change.

I wanted to try to capture some of that changed beauty, so I recently biked to a couple of my favorite vantage points in Newport Beach to try my hand at it.

A moonlit view of Lower Newport Bay (and partially Upper Newport Bay) with PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) to the right and Newport Center's many tall buildings that surround Fashion Island in Newport Beach, CA.  Saddleback Mountain (Santiago Peak and Modjeska Peak) can be seen off in the distance, to the left.  This image is a minimally manipulated single-frame, long-exposure capture. (Marc Perkins/Marc Perkins Photography)
A moonlit view of Newport Beach’s Lower Newport Bay (and partially Upper Newport Bay) with PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) to the right and Newport Center's many tall buildings that surround Fashion Island to the left. Saddleback Mountain can be seen off in the distance, to the left.
The view of west Newport Beach as seen from Ensign View Park (on Newport Heights).  Visible to the left is the Lido Peninsula and western tip of Lido Island with the Via Lido Bridge.  Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) is visible in the foreground, as are many of the buildings on the Balboa Peninsula's western portion.  The two tall buildings on the left are the  the Vista Del Lido complex and the 601 Lido Condominiums; the two tall buildings on the right (that almost appear as one) are Newport: The Towers (3121 PCH) and Newport Surgery Center (3333 PCH).  This image is a minimally manipulated single-frame, long-exposure capture. (Marc Perkins/Marc Perkins Photography)
West Newport Beach as seen from Ensign View Park (in Newport Heights). Visible to the left is the Lido Peninsula and western tip of Lido Island with the Via Lido Bridge; Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) is visible in the foreground, as are many of the buildings on the Newport Peninsula's / Balboa Peninsula's western portions. 2

But those are just general overviews; the image I’m happiest with takes just a piece of one of those and lets your eye linger on the details:

A view of west Newport Beach's Newport Harbor as seen at night from Ensign View Park.  In the foreground are buildings surrounding the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH); the back of the 2436 Pacific Coast Highway office building (that looks like a motel) is prominent, as is the Bayport Yachts round turret and Joe's Crab Shack.  Behind that are buildings on Newport Peninsula / Balboa Peninsula that front Newport Harbor, most striking among them is the multi-story Blackman Ltd. building at 3388 Via Lido Drive, with the parking structure at the Lido Marina Village on the right.  Behind those buildings and the palm trees lie two open-ocean oil platforms (one above the Blackman building, and one above the parking structure), which almost look as if they're floating in space.  This image is a minimally manipulated single-frame, long-exposure capture. (Marc Perkins/Marc Perkins Photography)
A closer look at a portion of west Newport Beach's Newport Harbor as seen at night from Ensign View Park. Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) is in the foreground; behind that are buildings on Newport Peninsula / Balboa Peninsula that front Newport Harbor, most striking among them is the multi-story Blackman Ltd. building at 3388 Via Lido Drive, with the parking structure at the Lido Marina Village on the right. Behind those and the palm trees lie two open-ocean oil platforms (one above the Blackman building, and one above the parking structure).

All of these are single-frame exposures with minimal manipulation in post processing. A few more images can be found in my Newport Beach at Night album.

1 I’m trying to get in at least 80 miles a week, and am hoping to build up to riding a century in a few months.
2 The two tall buildings on the left are the Vista Del Lido complex and the 601 Lido Condominiums; the two tall buildings on the right (that almost appear as one) are Newport: The Towers (3121 PCH) and Newport Surgery Center (3333 PCH).

How to convert a child bike trailer into a cargo trailer: an illustrated guide

I’ve been trying to do more of my errands by bicycling, and one of my biggest holdups has been a lack of cargo room: it’s hard to lug home 80 pounds of cat litter in a backpack. So, a few months ago I started shopping on Craigslist for a bike trailer, only to find out that a good friend had one in her garage that I could have for free.

My Schwinn Spirit bike trailer before modifying it to had a wooden platform to carry cargo. (Marc C. Perkins)
My Schwinn Spirit bike trailer before modification.

That’s a Schwinn (Pacific Cycle) Spirit Bicycle Trailer, rated to hold up to two 50-lb kids (aka: 100 pounds of cargo!). I immediately fell in love with it, and even used it to lug home 80 pounds of cat litter from the pet store:

Two 42-pound bags of Fresh Step cat litter strapped in like kids into my bike trailer's child harness.  So cute! (Marc C. Perkins)
Two 42-pound bags of Fresh Step cat litter strapped in like kids into my bike trailer's child harness. So cute!

An unexpected bonus of the trailer is that whenever I have it attached to my bike, cars give me more maneuvering room. I bike on city streets in Orange County, CA, and am used to having only a few inches of space between my side mirror and the cars zipping past me. But when I’m using the trailer, most cars will actually change lanes before even attempting to pass me (or at least give me four or five feet of clearance), and I’ve had multiple people literally stop to let me go in front of them. Amazing.

But using the trailer for cargo has proved to be less than ideal, as the bottom of the trailer is just made of soft fabric: the kids’ weight is designed to be supported entirely by the harness (which is hung from a horizontal metal rod). So, unless I had cargo that was perfectly sized to fit into that harness (like the bags of cat litter), I was limited to low weight.

The Schwinn Spirit bike trailer has a lot of flat, open room in it once the child harness has been removed. (Marc C. Perkins)
The bottom of the Schwinn Spirit bike trailer (with the child harness removed) is just thin fabric: not good for cargo.

So, I wanted to modify the trailer to add a solid base to convert it to a cargo trailer, and while I found lots of DIY tutorials, they all involved removing the fabric. However, I wanted to keep the fabric on my trailer to protect my cargo from weather and prevent it from blowing around. Additionally, my guess is that the extra space I’m getting when I use the trailer is due to both the visual bulk of the trailer (it’s actually the same width as my handlebars, but makes my bike look much wider) and also because people think there are cute wittle children in the trailer and thus are panicked about the possibility of hitting them1.

So, what I ended up doing is removing the harness and adding a wooden shelf that fit inside the existing fabric, so my trailer now looks like this:

A view of my DIY bike trailer modification from the front looking in.  The shelf is high enough that it doesn't hit the fabric on the bottom of the trailer, but low enough to hold a large amount of stuff.  As a bonus, the shelf is hard to see, so drivers don't know there's not a kid inside :) (Marc Perkins)
My finished cargo trailer!

Read on for full instructions on how I built this!

Materials

Continue reading How to convert a child bike trailer into a cargo trailer: an illustrated guide

First tomatoes of the year: a lighting comparison

Michelle and I tend our backyard garden every summer, and one of our joys is seeing the first produce of the year slowly ripen on the plants. Just this week our first cherry tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) are finally ripening, and so yesterday I took a few pictures of the glorious first fruits:

The first fruit of the year in our garden: two deliciously orange cherry tomatoes still "on the vine" (attached to the plant).  This plant is a "sun sugar" variety of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) that we purchased from Orange Coast College's ornamental horticulture department.  This picture was taken in the field using natural lighting to create an in-vivo look. (Marc C. Perkins)
Two ripe Sun Sugar cherry tomatoes still attached to the plant, photographed using natural light only.

The tomatoes were in some nice diffusely-lit shade, and that’s what you see above – I used a tripod to stabilize the camera, but otherwise didn’t need anything else.

But since I’ve been having fun experimenting with off camera lighting recently, I decided to pull out my lighting gear and try some “studio” style lighting on the fruits.

The first fruit of the year in our garden: two deliciously orange cherry tomatoes still "on the vine" (attached to the plant).  This plant is a "sun sugar" variety of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) that we purchased from Orange Coast College's ornamental horticulture department.  This picture was taken in the field using studio lighting (off camera flashes) to create a more dramatic look. (Marc C. Perkins)
The same two ripe Sun Sugar cherry tomatoes, photographed using “studio” lighting.

Those are the exact same fruits in the exact same position, but now they’ve been lit using the “invisible black background” technique I’ve described before1.

What a difference lighting makes! The black background makes the fruits pop out visually, thanks to less visual clutter, but I think it also makes the scene look more artificial (or as though it was taken at night). My favorite comment so far comes from my dad, who said that the fruit look like two “hot Jupiters”. Little tomato planets floating in space; I like it.

Footnotes

1 Two snooted flashes were setup, one on either side of the fruit, and I used my gray card to shade the background from the primary flash’s illumination. Both flashes also had great natural gobos: the branches of the plant itself.

More pictures

To see more of my plant-related pictures, head to my Botany and Mycology gallery collection.

Moonrise tour of Point Sur Light Station

Point Sur Light Station1 stands on a 350 foot tall rock on the California coast about 25 miles south of Monterey.

Point Sur Light Station seen from along California Highway 1 (Pacific Coast Highway).  The station's buildings are all on top of the small hill / rock that rises from the ocean behind a grassy meadow on this blustery day. (Marc C. Perkins)
Point Sur Light Station seen from California Highway 1. The tall structure visible at the top is the water tower; the lighthouse itself is not easily visible from the highway.

Michelle and I were lucky enough to be passing by the light station in time for one of their rare moonrise tours (okay, I’ll admit, we planned our trip up the coast around the tour …). These tours happen once or twice a month at (you guessed it) the full moon. The tours start shortly before sunset, and end with the moon rising over the lighthouse.

The old entrance sign to Point Sur Light Station.  The sign is now on display in the museum at the station. (Marc C. Perkins)
The old entrance sign to Point Sur Light Station. The sign is now on display in the museum at the station.

The tour starts with everyone waiting at the entrance sign to the State Historic Park & Lighthouse. I was advised to arrive early to ensure a spot in the tour, and while arriving early turned out to not be necessary, it did help me realize just how windy it was going to be. The wind was constant, strong, and cold. I bundled up for the night, and was glad I did. Once the docents arrived everyone was let through the gate and drove to the base of the rock the lighthouse stands on (where one of only two bathrooms on the tour are found).

We soon started walking up the road that leads to the lighthouse. The road is not for the acrophobic: it’s a steep paved road about one car wide that’s chiseled into the edge of the steep rock face with no fence or barrier between the edge and a long drop to the ocean. The road by itself would be fine, but the constant seemingly gale-force winds made people stay far from the edge (and parents hold onto their children rather tightly). Here’s what it looks like:

The docents broke our moon rise tour of Point Sur Light Station into two groups; I was in the first, and in this picture we're looking back at the second group taking a break on the road up to the top of the rock the station is located on.  The road to the top has no fence, and the edge steeply drops off to the ocean.  It'd be fun to walk on if there hadn't been gale force winds. (Marc C. Perkins)
The docents broke our tour into two groups; I was in the first, and in this picture we're looking back at the second group taking a break on the road up to the top.

The road was a bit of a climb, but persevering paid off with our first view of the lighthouse peeking over the hillside.

The first view of Point Sur Light Station's lighthouse that I got on the day was this one: the lamp room peeking over the hillside as we walked along the narrow roadway tacked onto the hillside.  The ocean and sun setting behind incoming coastal fog set the scene nicely. (Marc C. Perkins)
My first view of Point Sur Light Station's lighthouse.
Point Sur Light Station's lighthouse peeking over the top of the hillside it's built on.  This is seen from the road that climbs the hill to reach the lighthouse.  The day was incredibly windy, and the only barrier on the steep hillside is the vertical wooden beams you can see in the picture.  The hillside was covered in blooms, making it beautiful. (Marc C. Perkins)
Point Sur Light shining proud.

Any acrophobia I might have had disappeared entirely with this view 🙂

Even without the lighthouse peeking into view, the walk to the top was filled with entertainment: blooming plants lined the hillside, and the ocean was a beautiful seafoam green.

A hillside covered in blooming plants (yellow, red, and purple) provide foreground for the sandstone assistant keeper's house at the Point Sur Light Station.  Three families lived in this house at one time. (Marc C. Perkins)
Assistant Keepers' House.
The water of the ocean to the west of Point Sur Light Station was turned sea foam green thanks to the action of waves and high winds.  In this image the blooming hillside is in the frame, providing contrast. (Marc C. Perkins)
Seafoam green. I always thought this was a silly name for a paint color, not a real color!

The lighthouse itself was built in 1889, and is still a functioning navigational aid. The building and its interior are built in the classic lighthouse style of elegant functional simplicity.

Point Sur Light Station's lighthouse seen from the ocean-facing side.  A docent from the tour is walking out of the main door of the lighthouse, providing scale.  The lighthouse is built on the northern end of the rock the station is on; the stairway visible to the right leads to the rest of the light station. (Marc C. Perkins)
Point Sur Light Station's lighthouse. A docent from the tour is standing by the main door of the lighthouse, providing scale.
A view from the bottom of the stairway leading to the top of Point Sur Light Station's lighthouse's lantern room.  I'm a total sucker for lighthouse stairways ? the white iron stairway contrasts beautifully with the wooden central beam and brick exterior (with light streaming in through a window). (Marc C. Perkins)
I'm a total sucker for lighthouse stairways.
A section of the black iron stairway that leads to the top of the lantern room of Point Sur Light Station's lighthouse.  I love the contrasty, beautifully textured iron. (Marc C. Perkins)
A section of the iron stairway that leads to the top of the lantern room of Point Sur Light Station's lighthouse.

Some of the most intriguing structures were pieces of cut glass embedded in the floor of the lantern room’s upper level. These were designed to capture the light from the primary source and diffuse it down to the lower levels of the lighthouse building, allowing the lighthouse’s main tower to be lit solely by the primary light. They’re miniature sunroofs if you will.

A set of light diffusing glass crystals placed into the floor of the walkway that surrounds the light in Point Sur Light Station's lighthouse.  Photographed from underneath, these crystals are used to illuminate the walkway underneath the light by catching the lighthouse's primary light and diffusing it down to the walkway underneath. (Marc C. Perkins)
A set of light diffusing/diffracting glass crystals placed into the floor of the walkway that surrounds the light in Point Sur Light Station's lighthouse.

In addition to being able to walk around in the lantern room and look at everything up close, we even got to climb out onto the walkway surrounding the lantern room and enjoy the view:

A view looking up the California Coast from the walkway outside the lantern room at the top of Point Sur Light Station's lighthouse.  The view was incredible, with low fog rolling in as the sun set, and the sea foam green ocean waves lapping up along the sandy shore.  The railing in front provides scale, but doesn't show how incredibly windy it was. (Marc C. Perkins)
A view from the walkway outside the lantern room of Point Sur Light Station's lighthouse.

The view was great (the sun was setting behind the coastal clouds), but even more amazing was how WINDY it was. The door to the walkway was on the leeward side of the building, and so there was virtually no wind there. But walk even a few feet from the door and you suddenly get slammed with a wall of wind. Walking through this wall took tremendous effort (as you can see if you look closely at this picture).

After the tour of the inside of the lantern room we got to climb above the lighthouse, and from there I think I was able to capture a bit of the feel of the night: the slowly rotating dual beams of the lighthouse sweeping over the broad expanse of the ocean while coastal clouds roll in at dusk.

A view of the Pacific Ocean with Point Sur Light Station's light house in the foreground.  The sun has just set, and low marine clouds cover the sky, while the light can be seen rotating.  The view from the lighthouse is just stunning.  This view includes almost none of the hillside, as opposed to #2. (Marc C. Perkins)
A view of the Pacific Ocean at dusk with Point Sur Light Station's lighthouse in the foreground.

A few minutes later we headed to the southern end of the station and watched the moon rise, with the Pacific Ocean, Highway 1, and the California coast as background.

The rising full moon is reflected off of the Pacific Ocean within view of one of the buildings at Point Sur Light Station (the barracks).  I love how golden light streams out of the building's windows, illuminating the native plants on the hillside.  This image is the ultimate summary of the station's moon rise tours: they're just gorgeous, and you should go on one if you can! (Marc C. Perkins)
Moonrise over Point Sur Light Station.

I could have stayed in that spot a long, long time (assuming I had a heater with me).

If you’re ever in the area, check and see if there’s a tour. As the moon rises the docents break out hot chocolate (available for a suggested donation of $1!2), and life is good.

Footnotes

1 Point Sur is a light station, not just a lighthouse, because it was built to be an independent facility. When it was built there was no easy road that connected it to Monterey, so it was in an extremely remote location. It housed multiple families at a time, and had all the facilities needed for independence: a blacksmith shop, woodworking shop, barn, water tower, and multiple houses.
2 Sadly, I missed the hot chocolate. The entire tour was difficult to photograph, as the tour was not aimed at photographers. The only time I could break out a tripod was as the moon rose, and since we only had about 10 or 15 minutes it was either hot cocoa or pictures, and you know which I’ll choose every time.
.

More pictures

To see more pictures from the light station, head to my Point Sur Light Station – Highlights Gallery or, if you’re really a glutton for punishment, head to my Point Sur Light Station – Entire Set Gallery.

Getting There

Point Sur State Historic Park & Lighthouse: Located along California Highway 1 about 25 miles south of Monterey, the entrance to the park is at a small gate along the west side of the highway. The GPS coordinates for the entrance to the park are N 36 18.578 W 121 53.165; it’s just north of the Point Sur Naval Station and near the California Sea Otter Game Refuge. See the park’s website for more information on location and schedules of tours.

The station is a state park run entirely by volunteers; it’s only open during guided tours, and there is no access at other times. You do need to plan ahead: if you stop by at a random time, you’ll get a picture much like the first one of this post and then drive on your way, never knowing what you missed. Parking is free (stop by the gate at first, and then drive into a small lot at the base of the rock once a docent opens the gate), and bathrooms are limited (there’s one at the interior parking lot, and one in the last building the tour goes through). There are no public facilities on the highway near the lighthouse.

The moonrise tour occurs only during full moons. As you gathered from the post, it can be EXTREMELY windy: I highly recommend a hat, gloves, windproof jacket, and warm layers underneath. I wore all that, and was cold; many people on the trip reported being very, very cold. Docents report that it’s less windy in the fall. The park runs other tours that meet during the day; these apparently go through more of the buildings.

OCC Ornamental Horticulture Club’s First Place Garden

South Coast Plaza has a Spring Garden Show every year, and every year they have a contest for local landscape designers and schools to build judged gardens inside the mall. This year’s garden theme was “Healing Gardens”, and Orange Coast College’s Ornamental Horticulture Department Club built a garden for the visually impaired; OCC’s garden won first place in the competition!

A head-on view of Orange Coast College's Ornamental Horticulture Club's first-place winning garden installation at the 2012 South Coast Plaza Spring Garden Show in Costa Mesa, CA.  The theme for the show was "healing gardens", and the OCC team installed a "garden for the visually impaired."  The garden's centerpiece is a 1957 restored globe for the blind, with the world geography in exaggerated height to be sensed by the touch of blind people; the locations of plants in the garden was indicated in braille on the globe.  This picture was taken Thursday April 27, 2012 at ~9pm, less than 48 hours after my in-progress pictures. (Marc C. Perkins)
A head-on view of the garden.

The team had only three days to build the entire garden on site. I took in-progress pictures of the team building the garden less than 48 hours before, and was amazed when I returned and saw the finished product. It’s a gorgeous work, and it also seems very functional for the visually impaired. The plants were chosen for texture and scent, and many are labeled in Braille:

A small portion of Orange Coast College's Ornamental Horticulture Club's first-place winning garden installation at the 2012 South Coast Plaza Spring Garden Show in Costa Mesa, CA.  The theme for the show was "healing gardens", and the OCC team installed a "garden for the visually impaired."  This image shows how many of the plants were described in braille. (Marc C. Perkins)But the centerpiece of the garden is a restored 1957 braille world globe, one of only 500 made.

A view of the braille world globe in Orange Coast College's Ornamental Horticulture Club's first-place winning garden installation at the 2012 South Coast Plaza Spring Garden Show in Costa Mesa, CA.  The theme for the show was "healing gardens", and the OCC team installed a "garden for the visually impaired."  The garden's centerpiece is a 1957 restored globe for the blind, with the world geography in exaggerated height to be sensed by the touch of blind people; the locations of plants in the garden was indicated in braille on the globe. (Marc C. Perkins)
The Braille world globe seen in front of the waterfall.

The globe was contributed to the project by the club advisor, OCC Ornamental Horticulture Professor Rick Harlow. It features the world geography in exaggerated relief, so all the land on the globe can be sensed by touch. The club added Braille markers to the globe indicating where all the Braille-labeled plants are from.

A closeup view of the braille world globe in Orange Coast College's Ornamental Horticulture Club's first-place winning garden installation at the 2012 South Coast Plaza Spring Garden Show in Costa Mesa, CA.  The theme for the show was "healing gardens", and the OCC team installed a "garden for the visually impaired."  The garden's centerpiece is a 1957 restored globe for the blind, with the world geography in exaggerated height to be sensed by the touch of blind people; the locations of plants in the garden was indicated in braille on the globe. (Marc C. Perkins)
A closeup view of the braille world globe.

The garden has other features to help the visually impaired, including wind chimes and a waterfall to provide auditory cues to direction, easy to use railings, easily sensible floor textures, and a speaking weather meter. The bottom of the waterfall grabbed my attention:

A closeup of the water feature installed in Orange Coast College's Ornamental Horticulture Club's first-place winning garden installation at the 2012 South Coast Plaza Spring Garden Show in Costa Mesa, CA.  This is a long exposure image, so the water blurred into nice streams. (Marc C. Perkins)The garden is just plain beautiful; it’s amazing what the club was able to do with such a limited space in just a few days.

A view of the braille world globe and one of the garden benches of Orange Coast College's Ornamental Horticulture Club's first-place winning garden installation at the 2012 South Coast Plaza Spring Garden Show in Costa Mesa, CA.  The theme for the show was "healing gardens", and the OCC team installed a "garden for the visually impaired."  The garden's centerpiece is a 1957 restored globe for the blind, with the world geography in exaggerated height to be sensed by the touch of blind people; the locations of plants in the garden was indicated in braille on the globe. (Marc C. Perkins)Doesn’t it call out to you to relax in it?

The garden will be on display for this weekend only (April 27-29, 2012), so if you want to see it come quick!

More pictures

To see more pictures of the garden, head to my two galleries below:

Ute Smith works to artfully wrap a vine around a post at Orange Coast College's Ornamental Horticulture Club's in-progress installation at the 2012 South Coast Plaza Spring Garden Show in Costa Mesa, CA.  The theme for this year's show is "healing gardens", and the OCC team is installing a "garden for the blind," which will be complete with a braille world globe and braille labels.  This picture was taken Tuesday April 25, 2012 at ~11pm, as the team was working frantically to meet their Thursday-morning deadline.  This image was taken at a high ISO using the ambient light in the dim mall, so it's noisier than my typical images (and thus I'd recommend against printing it large). (Marc C. Perkins)
Garden Installation

A 3/4 view (with award ribbon visible!) of Orange Coast College's Ornamental Horticulture Club's first-place winning garden installation at the 2012 South Coast Plaza Spring Garden Show in Costa Mesa, CA.  The theme for the show was "healing gardens", and the OCC team installed a "garden for the visually impaired."  The garden's centerpiece is a 1957 restored globe for the blind, with the world geography in exaggerated height to be sensed by the touch of blind people; the locations of plants in the garden was indicated in braille on the globe.  This picture was taken Thursday April 27, 2012 at ~9pm, less than 48 hours after my in-progress pictures. (Marc C. Perkins)
Completed Garden

OCC’s team also won first place in the 2011 competition, and I have a few pictures of that garden in my 2011 Horticulture Garden Gallery.

Getting There

South Coast Plaza is at the intersection of the 405 Freeway and Bristol St. in Costa Mesa, CA. The garden show is located in the portion of the mall that houses the Crate and Barrel and Apple stores. Parking and admission are free.

Amaryllis flower buds

Amaryllis (Hippeastrum sp. cultivars) are grown in most cold regions of the United States as an indoor houseplant that people work hard to force to flower. One of the nice things about living in coastal Orange County is that plants like amaryllis can live year-round outdoors in the soil, and need no forcing to flower.

We put in a few small plants 7 or 8 years ago, and they’re now giant bulbs that send up multiple flower stalks every spring. I’ve been watching this year’s flowering stalks grow daily, and finally made some time last week to go out and get some pictures.

Three young developing amaryllis ([Hippeastrum] sp cultivar) inflorescences can be seen growing on their scapes, long leafless stems that support them.  Amaryllis inflorescences contain multiple flowers that develop inside spathes, bracts (modified leaves) that surround the young flowers.  The two spathes are just starting to split open on the closest flower, revealing a bit of red from one of the flowers.  The two flower stalks in the background are blurred out of focus.  This image was captured outside using natural light; no flowers were harmed in the production of this image. (Marc C. Perkins)
Teamwork: Three developing amaryllis inflorescences.

Amaryllis flowers grow in inflorescences, clusters of multiple flowers growing from a single leafless stalk called a scape (three scapes with their developing inflorescences are visible in the picture above). The actual flowers develop at the tips of the scapes surrounded by two modified leaves (bracts) called spathes.

In the image above you can see the two spathes starting to split apart on the front-most inflorescence, revealing one of the red amaryllis flowers inside. As the spathes open further, the multiple flowers contained inside start to elongate their pedicels (the stalks that attach each flower to the scape) and they emerge from the spathes:

An amaryllis ([Hippeastrum] sp. cultivar) inflorescence pictured just as its flower buds are emerging from their sheath.  There are three red and green flowers easily visible.  These flowers are growing from a scape, a leafless stem that is used to support flowers.  The three emerging buds are surrounded by two spathes, bracts (modified leaves) that surround the flowers as they develop (and then stay present as the flowers bloom).  This image was taken outdoors using natural lighting on an intact plant growing in my yard; no flowers were destroyed in the making of this image :) (Marc C. Perkins)
Opening Day: Three amaryllis flower buds emerge from their sheath

Amaryllis are showy, long-lasting flowers, but I think the buds are under-appreciated.

Technically these shots were fun to capture. I wanted to create a studio-esque feel, so the viewer could focus on the details of the buds themselves without distraction from the background. I worked on a partly cloudy day, and set up a black backdrop behind the subjects I wanted to photograph, using a reflector to add highlights or fill as needed. The second image is a blend of five images to get additional depth of field (using the technique described in my poinsettia behind the scenes post), but the first is a single-frame capture. All plants were left completely intact, and if all goes well they’ll be in full flower soon.

More pictures

To see more of my pictures of plants, head to my plants portfolio page or my botany demonstrations gallery.

Here are two more images of amaryllis. The first is another image from the day’s work (a single inflorescence up close) and the second is a closeup of one of my amaryllis flowers from last year.

A young developing amaryllis ([Hippeastrum] sp cultivar) flower just starting to emerge from its sheath.  Amaryllis flowers grow on a scape, a long leafless stem, and develop inside spathes, bracts (modified leaves) that surround an inflorescence (cluster of multiple flowers).  The two spathes are just starting to split open, revealing a bit of red from one of the flowers.  This image was captured outside using natural light, with a reflector used to angle light on to highlight the texture of the flower bud's tip.  No flowers were harmed in the production of this image. (Marc C. Perkins) Amaryllis are commonly grown as indoor plants in cold regions, but here in Southern California I can grown them out in my yard.  The flowers are absolutely huge, and I wanted to capture the immensity of the blooms with this picture.  Seen in the background is a plot of roses, with a post-sunset dusky sky in the background.  As a side note, this may actually be a Hippeastrum, as plants sold as Amaryllis are apparently often actually Hippeastrum. (Marc C. Perkins)

Cats for adoption: Zoey and Porsche

Zoey and Porsche are two sisters waiting for a home in Orange County, CA.  They’re both short-haired white and black bicolor female cats with yellow-green eyes.

Zoey, a less than year old short-haired white and black bicolor female cat with yellow green eyes up for adoption at Miss Kitty's Rescue in Costa Mesa, CA, is held by Mindy, owner of Miss Kitty's Rescue.  Zoey is sisters with Porsche, and the two need to be adopted together as a pair.  Zoey has a little bit of lipstick on her face, thanks to a recent "kiss" from Mindy.  Zoey has a nipped left ear, a sign that she may have been captured in a catch-and-release spay program for feral cats.  This picture was taken pro bono for Miss Kitty's Rescue to help them advertise the cats for adoption. (Marc C. Perkins)
Zoey
Porsche, a less than year old short-haired white and black bicolor female cat with yellow green eyes up for adoption at Miss Kitty's Rescue in Costa Mesa, CA, is held by Mindy, owner of Miss Kitty's Rescue.  Porsche is sisters with Zoey (seen in other pictures), and the two need to be adopted together as a pair.  She has a cute black spot on her pink nose, and is probably a mask-and-mantle pattern. Porsche has a nipped left ear, a sign that she may have been captured in a catch-and-release spay program for feral cats.  This picture was taken pro bono for Miss Kitty's Rescue to help them advertise the cats for adoption. (Marc C. Perkins)
Porsche

They’re both less than a year old, and they need to be adopted together as a pair. They’re  a bit shy and scared in the rescue, but they’re very playful with toys and each other, and will warm up once they get to a house where they’re given a space they can call their own.

Zoey (front; black nose) and Porsche (rear; black dot on her pink nose) are two sisters waiting for adoption.  They're both less than year old short-haired white and black bicolor female cats with yellow green eyes up for adoption at Miss Kitty's Rescue in Costa Mesa, CA.  The two need to be adopted together as a pair.  Both have nipped left ears, a sign that they may have been captured in a catch-and-release spay program for feral cats.  This picture was taken pro bono for Miss Kitty's Rescue to help them advertise the cats for adoption. (Marc C. Perkins)
Zoey (front; black nose) and Porsche (rear; black dot on her pink nose)
Zoey peers out from behind a wall, wondering who's taking pictures of her.  Zoey, a less than year old white and black bicolor female cat with yellow green eyes up for adoption at Miss Kitty's Rescue in Costa Mesa, CA, is held by Mindy, owner of Miss Kitty's Rescue.  Zoey is sisters with Porsche, and the two need to be adopted together as a pair.  This picture was taken pro bono for Miss Kitty's Rescue to help them advertise the cats for adoption. (Marc C. Perkins)
Zoey peers out from behind a wall.
A close-up view of Zoey, a less than year old short-haired white and black bicolor female cat with yellow green eyes up for adoption at Miss Kitty's Rescue in Costa Mesa, CA.  Zoey is sisters with Porsche (seen blurred in the background), and the two need to be adopted together as a pair.  This picture was taken pro bono for Miss Kitty's Rescue to help them advertise the cats for adoption. (Marc C. Perkins)
Zoey

Zoey and Porsche are currently available for adoption through Miss Kitty’s Rescue in Costa Mesa, CA. For more information on the cats, and to find out how to adopt them, contact Mindy at misskittysrescue@yahoo.com.

More kitties?

To see more cats available for adoption at Miss Kitty’s Rescue in Orange County, CA, head to my cats available for adoption in Orange County, CA page.

To see more cat pictures I’ve taken, you can see a list of all of my pet posts, or head straight to my pets portfolio page.

Cats up for adoption in Orange County, CA

Are you looking for a cute cat or kitten to adopt in Costa Mesa, California?  Here’s a list of some of the cats currently available for adoption through Miss Kitty’s Rescue:

[Note: Click each cat’s image or name to see more information about the cat.]

Zoey, a less than year old short-haired white and black bicolor female cat with yellow green eyes up for adoption at Miss Kitty's Rescue in Costa Mesa, CA, is held by Mindy, owner of Miss Kitty's Rescue.  Zoey is sisters with Porsche, and the two need to be adopted together as a pair.  Zoey has a little bit of lipstick on her face, thanks to a recent "kiss" from Mindy.  Zoey has a nipped left ear, a sign that she may have been captured in a catch-and-release spay program for feral cats.  This picture was taken pro bono for Miss Kitty's Rescue to help them advertise the cats for adoption. (Marc C. Perkins) Porsche, a less than year old short-haired white and black bicolor female cat with yellow green eyes up for adoption at Miss Kitty's Rescue in Costa Mesa, CA, is held by Mindy, owner of Miss Kitty's Rescue.  Porsche is sisters with Zoey (seen in other pictures), and the two need to be adopted together as a pair.  She has a cute black spot on her pink nose, and is probably a mask-and-mantle pattern. Porsche has a nipped left ear, a sign that she may have been captured in a catch-and-release spay program for feral cats.  This picture was taken pro bono for Miss Kitty's Rescue to help them advertise the cats for adoption. (Marc C. Perkins)
Zoey and Porsche

Hurricane, a seven year old male short-haired black cat, staring into the camera for a portrait.  Hurricane is a very intelligent, outgoing cat who loves people and is not afraid of anything, but who needs to live in a house without other pets as he can be aggressive to other dogs and cats.  Hurricane is up for adoption at Miss Kitty's Rescue in Costa Mesa, CA.  This picture was taken pro bono for Miss Kitty's Rescue to help them advertise the cats for adoption. (Marc C. Perkins)
Hurricane

Trista, a three year old female short-haired brown tabby cat with green eyes (and a white chin), playing with a feather toy from behind a sisal-wrapped cat tree post.   Trista has a face that looks somewhat like a mountain lion to me; a bit more elongated than your typical domesticated cat.  Trista is up for adoption at Miss Kitty's Rescue in Costa Mesa, CA.  This picture was taken pro bono for Miss Kitty's Rescue to help them advertise the cats for adoption. (Marc C. Perkins)
Trista

If you’re interested in adopting any of these cats, please contact Mindy of Miss Kitty’s Rescue at misskittysrescue@yahoo.com.  Some of these cats may also be available to be seen at the Petsmart at 620 West 17th St in Costa Mesa, CA 92627.

Kitties who have found a home

These cats have been adopted into a loving home:

Oliver, a two year old male short-haired brown tabby and white cat, looks peacefully just off camera.  Oliver is a sweet cat who needs a home with no dogs and no kids.  Oliver is up for adoption at Miss Kitty's Rescue in Costa Mesa, CA.  This picture was taken pro bono for Miss Kitty's Rescue to help them advertise the cats for adoption. (Marc C. Perkins)
Oliver

Molly, a two year old bicolor tuxedo white and black short-haired cat, looks at her cage door.  Molly is a very playful and fun loving cat who loves to ride on people's shoulders and interact with dogs; she would not be good with small children.  Molly is up for adoption at Miss Kitty's Rescue in Costa Mesa, CA.  This picture was taken pro bono for Miss Kitty's Rescue to help them advertise the cats for adoption. (Marc C. Perkins)
Molly

About Miss Kitty’s Rescue

Miss Kitty’s Rescue is a cat rescue group run by Mindy Miller in Costa Mesa, California.  Michelle and I adopted our two cats from Mindy; they were both former feral cats that Mindy tamed herself, and she turned the two of them from fearful, nearly wild cats into two kitties who love spending time with us.

As with most cat rescues, however, Mindy’s rescue is constantly full, and she has trouble finding people to adopt her rescued cats, especially since many of the cats need special homes. To help her out I’ve volunteered to take pictures of her cats pro bono, so she can use them in her own advertising.  She has also asked me to do whatever advertising I can for the cats, and thus I’ve created this post, which will link to all the cats.

More kitties?

To see more cat pictures I’ve taken, you can see a list of all of my pet posts, or head straight to my pets portfolio page.