Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Getty Center Visit

Late last month, my husband and I took off on a weekday visit to the Getty Center in West Los Angeles.  We hadn't been there in 3 years, our last visit unexpectedly marking our last outing with his mother.  My mother-in-law was in great shape and we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves during our April 2013 visit but her unexpected passing some five weeks later put a bittersweet aura over our most recent visit.  Still, I was interested in seeing what was happening in the Getty's Central Garden and we took time to stroll through two of the museum's current exhibits too.

The Getty Center is only 35 freeway miles from our home but Los Angeles deserves its #1 ranking as the city with the worst traffic in the US so it took us over an hour to get there, even traveling after the peak rush hour was over.  We arrived in late morning and, as the day was sunny and bright, my photos, with a few exceptions, are sun-drenched so I offer my apologies in advance.  (Warning: this is a photo-heavy post.)

View of the entrance to the Central Garden from the level above


Visitors enter the Central Garden through the stream garden, where a winding path directs their attention to the surrounding plants.

This may be my favorite photo from our visit so I'm offering it as my Wednesday Vignette this week.  I loved how the sun shone through the Phormium, highlighted the Nandina and added a sparkle to the Cordyline.  For more Wednesday Vignettes, visit Anna at Flutter & Hum.

Another nice grouping, this one featuring Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt', Carex testacea, Cordyline 'Renegade', and Heuchera (perhaps 'Purple Petticoats'

The lower area of the stream was heavily planted with Russelia equisetiformis (Euphorbia tirucalli 'Sticks on Fire' is shown in the foreground on the right)


I feel at home with the plants in the Getty's garden, many of which can be found in my own garden, albeit not in the same numbers or sizes!

Other plants in the stream garden included, clockwise from the upper left: Adenanthos drummondii, Astelia nivicola, Athanasia acerosa, and Pieris sp.


The stream garden opens up to a large, plaza-like area, highlighting two of the most well-known features of the Central Garden.

The rebar-supported Bougainvillea "trees"

and the Azalea Pool, which gave refuge to one lone duck on the morning of our visit


My favorite area is the one called the bowl garden.  It's not as densely planted in early spring as I recall it being on visits later in the year but there's still a lot to see.  We walked around the garden counter-clockwise.  Here are the photos from the 11 o'clock to the 5 o'clock position.






The other side of the bowl was harder to photograph because of the sun's position and visitor traffic but I got a couple of shots.




I also took some long-range shots from the bowl's 12 o'clock position.

The west side

The east side


Amazingly, I was able to identify many of the plants I saw in the bowl area, consulting Jim Duggan's book entitled Plants in the Getty's Central Garden in only a couple of cases for verification.

Alliums weren't listed as part of the original garden in Duggan's guide but my guess is that these are A. 'Globemaster', A. 'White Giant', and A. schubertii

Top row, left to right: Acacia 'Cousin Itt' (also not part of the original planting scheme), Asteriscus sericeus, and Chondropetalum tectorum
Middle row: Coprosma repens (probably 'Pacific Sunset'); Echium 'Star of Madeira' with Astelia and Pelargonium 'Oldbury Duet'; and Geranium maderense
Bottom row: Leucadendron 'Ebony', Ursinia anethiodes, and Watsonia intermedia


With the exception of the Azalea Pool, the Getty has made an effort to manage its water use in response to California's drought.  Water features outside the Central Garden have been turned off.



By and large, plant selections, including most of those shown above, were also made with attention to drought tolerance.   The cactus garden is another case in point.

Views of the cactus garden, left to right: from the upper level, midway along the stairs, and the lower level (not open to visitors)


I'd hope to get photos of the views of the area surrounding the Getty on our trips up and down the tram between the main grounds and the parking structure but we got stuck standing up in both directions.  The only distance views I got were these from the top level of the property.

Left: east-facing view of UCLA, Century City and, in the far distance on the left, downtown LA; right: west-facing view of the ocean


The Getty's garden isn't the Huntington but it's worth a visit if you find yourself in West LA.  I'll end this post with a photo of the statue that greets visitors upon arrival.




All material © 2012-2016 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

22 comments:

  1. Isn't it interesting how a place can so intensely reflect the emotions of an event? I tend to function the exact same way. I hope that your most recent visit managed to temper the sadness of having lost your m-i-l so soon after your last one. I for one, enjoyed the tour through your eyes, and especially got a kick out of the Bougainvillea trees, and the sculpture at the end. How fun! :)

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    1. That sculpture would have made a good WV too! As best I can recall, it's been there since the Getty Center opened, or at least since my first visit, which was 2003 or 2004. There's a second statue of a reclining woman several steps below the boy but it's never had the same appeal.

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  2. Great photos. Hope the association softens eventually into a sweeter memory over time Kris. Brings back fond memories for me of a visit there with my daughter and SIL several years ago. The stream with the upturned slate pieces was fascinating to me.

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    1. The 2013 visit is a positive memory overall, Susie, if also tinged by sadness at our subsequent loss. My MIL was an incredible woman.

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  3. Loved this post, it looks spectacular. The setting is fabulous too. Clever bougainvillea trees!

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    1. My husband hates bougainvillea (if you'd ever tried to prune it, you'd understand why) but even he thinks the rebar-enclosed version is a better use of the plant.

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  4. what is the silvery grass beneath the trees in the bowl garden?

    Poor frog, to spend eternity suspended by one foot.

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    1. It's actually a variegated form of Tulbaghia violacea, commonly known here as society garlic. Yes, the poor frog! But the statue is meant to signify curiosity in its most basic form.

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  5. Love the Bougainvillea trees! If I ever make it back down to LA, I'd love to visit this garden (as well as finally visit the Huntington).

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    1. While the Huntington's gardens are superior, I've always enjoyed the museum exhibits at the Getty more, not that I can claim a deep acquaintance with either institution.

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  6. I'm so glad that they either started watering the grass on the slopes again (or whatever turned it green again), because it adds so much to the overall garden. I hope your visit helped add some positivity to your Getty experiences...

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    1. I've never been there when the grass was dead but perhaps the rain in March helped.

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  7. I'm thrilled you posted these photos. I've never been to the Getty (not for a lack of trying) but I've seen so many pictures. Your post makes me want to go even more now. My mental wheels are spinning....

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    1. You might be disappointed by the succulent garden, Gerhard. It has a limited selection of plants and the lowest tier can only be viewed from a distance. But the Central Garden is interesting, if possibly a less complex than it was during its early days. The plants have changed some over the years. I was surprised to see heavy use of Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt', for example. That plant isn't even mentioned in Duggan's book.

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  8. What I really liked about the Getty is the creative use of otherwise mundane plants. When I was there last a few years ago I really enjoyed the common stuff used in new ways. Traffic: I would be tempted to take Sepulveda all the way.Probably not as good a route as it was in the 70's !

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    1. There are NO good routes through West LA, Kathy. The gridlock on the surface streets is as bad - and often worse - than the freeway.

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  9. Never having been I appreciate this look at the gardens, much more detailed than others I've read.

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    1. As Kathy said, the plant choices aren't especially unusual. I remember being more impressed in the early years but whether that's because my own choices have become more adventuresome or because there's been a change in the Getty's planting choices, I can't really say - I have no photos from the early days. They've added Leucadendrons (but no Grevillea!). I think they've done well in selecting for drought tolerance, though.

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  10. Such well maintained garden! Love the burgundy leaves of heuchera and the grasses.

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    1. The Getty has lots of money to spend on plants and maintenance, Aga.

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  11. I got to visit the Getty when I was here in Dec. It is so well designed and you can't beat that view!

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  12. It's a great view when the air is clear - I hope that was the case when you visited, Eliza!

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