Friday, March 23, 2012

L.A. "A List" The Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino

I want to say in Meyrl Streep's lilting, halting voice as Karen Blixen: " I had a farm in Africa." It is a voice haunted by the past and fraught with emotion. So: "I was a garden guide at the Huntington." Not quite Meryl, but it was a happy and magical place in my life. I did my training, heavily at the end of my first pregnancy, so much so, that I had to carry a little portable stool to rest. I loved my course, staggering through the estate and learning the magical Latin and common names of plants, like Monstera Deliciosa.  I patted my enormous bump with satisfaction. I was anticipating my Monstera Deliciosa. Henry Huntington's estate is singular with its mansion, scholarly library, art galleries and garden collections. I always began my tours with the succulent collection, which is the largest in the world.

Succulents bloom in the rainy season of Mediterranean climates, so this is when the garden is at its apex. Humming birds hover around madly in this exotic and peaceful escape.

Barrel head cacti, with their accordion shapes, expand and contract in accordance with the rain. Like us, they are pudgy when they're full and puny when they aren't. Cactus flowers are tiny and brilliantly colored.

Basking in the afternoon light, crowned with their annual flowers, the cacti literally glow. I have done nothing to this picture. There are also Aloe and Agave with their wild inflorescence.

There is a bit of Dr. Seuss to the place. 

Moving through the gardens, you must remember that the property is a connoisseur's collection, much like the paintings, silver, furniture, library etc...  Actually, back in the day, transporting Camellias, Cycads, Succulents, Species Roses, Palms--and on and on, was a highly delicate business. These plants were transported by ship from every continent.

There is a Conifer collection that includes mighty trees, that were thought to be extinct 30 years ago.

We did get to see a bit of California spring in the English Gardens. 

 Pacific Giant Delphiniums
Fragrant English stock greets us 
The famous Japanese garden was closed but I will share a few photos from the  web.

The estate is developed on the remaining 130 acres left from the original 600. It is both a research institution and an educational center. Spend an entire day and eat a healthy lunch in the charming tea room.

Oh, and before I leave, here is the hot seller of the week!
This little hottie is in the February issue of House Beautiful
 Market is coming so send us your wish lists, or schedule a visit!
More Later!


  1. Beautiful gardens, Liz. You have been quite the tour guide lately, and I am enjoying every post!
    I hope that you have a wonderful weekend planned.

  2. I love the succulent garden at the Huntington, it is absolutely spectacular. By the way, did you know that Claire Martin the long time, and well known currator of roses retired ~ he was super.

  3. One of my most favorite places in all the world...and to think, you were able to be there every single day, learning and enjoying, lucky girl (and baby!)! You are so right about the succulent garden having a bit of Dr.Seuss about it...does it ever! I try to visit there whenever I am in the LA area, but the dear lady with whom my mother and I used to go is no longer with us, so visits are a little bittersweet now, as she was very special to us, but the place reminds me of her and many happy times we shared there there, so I treasure it greatly!
    Such a wonderful post, it brought back so many beautiful and warm memories...thank you!!
    xo J~

  4. GREAT PICS:) I really like your blog and will happily follow.
    I wish you a lovely weekend:)

    LOVE Maria at

  5. Growing up in Arizona, I did not appreciate the beauty of cacti until I was an adult. This time of year, with so many of them blooming, it's gorgeous. I've never heard of the Huntington. Will be keeping it in mind should I be out that way again.

  6. Hello Liz,

    What a magnificent post. I enjoyed it so much!

    Have a blessed week!


    Luciane at

  7. These are stunning! Back in the Midwest, we're barely seeing the beginning of spring, so I appreciate the lush full blooms and green trees. Thanks for sharing!

  8. What a delicious post. Lots of oooohing and aahhing here. I love succulents and cacti, and saw several in the pictures that we have in the garden here. And then there were the delfs, which I tried to grow in Australia, and failed lamentably, beaten by the monstrous marauding snails (big as kangaroos, honest!). At the end I thought you were offering us all a G&T, and was about to accept with alacrity but then realised it was actually a trolley!


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