Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A Trip to The Huntington Gardens (& Wednesday Vignette)

Last week was miserably hot.  The temperatures soared above 100F and it cooled down very little at night.  The only gardening I do in weather like that is watering early in the morning or late afternoon.  As we had one heatwave after another during October, with only short breaks in between, I've held off on the plant shopping I usually indulge in during the fall.  Okay, I admit I shop for plants year-round but I taper off during summer's height and make up for it by going a bit crazy in the fall.  After all, fall is the best time to plant here - the nighttime temperatures are (usually) cool but the daytime temperatures are comfortably warm and we can (usually) expect rain as we head into the latter part of the year, allowing plants a good opportunity to get established.  We don't get freezes here so there's no worry there.

With the heat expected to taper off at the end of last week, I cajoled my husband into attending the fall plant sale at the Huntington Gardens.  I hate driving through downtown Los Angeles, even though I did it for 8 years when I worked downtown so I appreciated his willingness to chauffeur me there, especially as the temperature was forecast to be 91F on the first day of the sale.  We arrived minutes after the garden opened, when the temperature was still just 79F, and headed straight for the sale area.

I snapped just a couple of photos of the sale area before I got busy shopping.  This is a portion of the well-stocked succulent area.  Everything was neatly labeled and there were plenty of knowledgeable people on hand to answer questions.

This area included trees, shrubs and perennials.  The plants on offer extended far into the distance.  I can't even draw a comparison with the offerings provided at my local botanic garden's "fall plant boutique."

My camera seized up at one point and I clicked a test shot, not really attending to the the plant caught by the shot until I reviewed my photos at home.  I've no idea what this plant was but I really wish I'd paid more attention!


After 90 minutes at the sale, I paid for my purchases and left them to be picked up later while we had lunch and toured the gardens.  We had our lunch on a patio area attached to the Chinese Garden (Liu Fang Yuan), then made the rounds.

The Chinese Garden was just a short walk from the plant sale area

The lake provides great reflective views


We had our lunch on the patio alongside the pavilion on the right.  It's my favorite spot for lunch at the Huntington.


This Japanese maple provided the only touch of fall color I saw during our visit


As we proceeded into the Japanese Garden, it was already quite hot so we didn't tarry.

The garden wasn't very crowded on a Friday afternoon but then the temperature was up in the 90F range at this point



We wound our way through the Australian Garden but none of my photos of that area are worth sharing.  My husband was interested in seeing a science exhibit (and cooling down) so I made do with just a few panoramic shots of the Desert Garden.






As my husband checked the map to find the location of the science exhibit, my eye was attracted by bright, shiny metal and I walked over to investigate.

I didn't realize it at the time but the Orbit Pavilion, a NASA exhibit, was slated to close just 2 days after our visit

The exhibit provides "soundscapes" to reflect individual satellites as they pass overhead

Interior view


We headed in the direction of the California Garden near the entrance and I snapped several more shots as a busload of teens queued up for a tour.

You can just see the students gathering in the distance

Another view of what I believe are 4 perfect specimens of Yucca rostrata with the Orbit Pavilion in the distance

More quick photos as the teenage horde approached


View of the area looking back in the direction of my first photo of the California Garden


My husband was disappointed by the science exhibit, as it was geared to kids, but I enjoyed the displays in the natural history section, particularly the botanical and anatomical illustrations.  Some of these were perfect for Halloween, like a large illustration of a skeleton kneeling in prayer and a full-sized anatomical drawing of a standing man holding a knife in one hand and his own flayed skin in another.  Unfortunately, flash photos weren't permitted.

We headed back to the plant sale area behind the Children's Garden to pick up my purchases.  My plant-buying hiatus is over it seems. 

This is my haul and my Wednesday Vignette.  (For others, visit Anna at Flutter & Hum.)  The first box of plants includes: Aloe 'Marsha Leyhew', Villabrunea pedunculata, Justicia leonardii, Nerine bowdenii 'Stefani', dwarf Grevillea rosmarinifolia, and Dermabotris saundersii.  The second box holds: Sinningia 'Invasion Force', Salvia heldreichiana, Salvia melissadora (not visible), Sphaeralcea ambigua (not visible), Grevillea victorae 'Murray Valley Queen', and Perrierastrum oreophilum (Madagascar Mountain Fern).

The most expensive item in the batch was this Aloe 'Marsha Leyhew', a Karen Zimmerman hybrid.  In a 3-inch pot, it cost $15.  You can find better photos here.


Temperatures continued to fall over the weekend and our marine layer turned.  It's been cool and drizzly since Monday and there's a good chance of real rain over the coming weekend.  Time to start planting!


All material © 2012-2017 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

26 comments:

  1. You have just given me another plant/garden destination!! I will add this to my list for California. And yes, fall is THE time to plant. Our weather has cooled off quite a bit,and it's now a perfect time. Still too warm, and the soil is much too warm, for planting bulbs...but oh am I busy with perennials and then pansies!

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    1. The Huntington is at the top of the list of destination botanic gardens in Southern California, Libby, so it definitely belongs on your list. In addition to the gardens, it has a fabulous art collection and all sorts of museum exhibits.

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  2. Beautiful pictures! the desert garden looks surprisingly lush and abundant to be "desert"! That's what I call great design.

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    1. Few others garden on that scale and over such a long period of time, MDN. The Huntington family and subsequently the foundation that runs operations now, have been gardening on that 120 acre site for over 100 years now. The Desert Garden reportedly has one of the largest collections of cacti and succulents in the world.

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  3. Nice pics! Seeds collected from the end of spring are probably going down this weekend. It will be interesting to see what we get in 2018 having skipped on purchasing for the 1st time since 2012.

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    1. I hope the bounty of blooms exceeds your expectations, Eric. The wild card is: how much rain can we expect this year?

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  4. Ahh - the Huntington! It's been on my bucket list for a while. One of these days... I really liked the building that housed the NASA exhibit. The wall patterns (and subsequent shadow patterns) reminded me of those long exposure photographs of orbital bodies. Clever idea, for sure! And, I bet the shade it provided was pleasant, as well. Congratulations by the way on the falling temperatures - finally! That in combination with a drizzle (!) sounds really promising, and must feel absolutely heavenly, for man, beast, and plant alike!

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    1. The Orbit Pavilion also made a nice focal point for photos in the California Garden! The shade was nice but not quite as cooling as the AC on in the science exhibit space. And we're thrilled by the current turn in the weather!

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  5. You've got me hyperventilating here. A plant sale at the Huntington must be a plant geek's nirvana. Someday when I'm retired and have more time...

    Thank you also for the photos of the Chinese Garden. I've never made it there, but I'm tentatively planning a trip to SoCal after Christmas.

    And the entrance garden has never looked so good!

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    1. I wish I'd had more time to look at the entrance garden but that horde of teenagers broke my stride and I think the heat was getting to my husband by the time we made it around to that area on the back-end of our visit. As Hoover Boo's previously reported, the entrance area changes at regular intervals. The sale was definitely worth attending if you can time a future visit right.

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  6. Amazing that the Huntington can lure us to the foothills in those kind of temps! So glad you made the sale.

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    1. I've been to the LA Arboretum's fall sale a few times but not this one as far as I can recall. If it wasn't for the need to transverse through that miserable downtown corridor, I'd have a membership with the Huntington and be there much more often.

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  7. When I visited they were working on the Chinese garden - it looks wonderful now. Truly one of the best botanical gardens, I hope to visit again. Nice purchase haul!

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    1. They're continuing to pour money into the Chinese garden, Eliza. There are several adjacent areas currently marked for development and my husband and I both thought that one stone waterfall was new since our last visit nearly 18 months ago.

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  8. Nice shots of the California garden. I agree, those Yuccas do look like perfect specimens. What a cute and colorful little Aloe you bought!

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    1. In retrospect, I wish I'd picked up more of those hybrid Aloes when I was there, Alison. There were other interesting hybrids, like 'Dragon', 'Gargoyle' and 'Princess Jack', but all were similarly pricey.

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  9. I read this lovely post last night and commented and poof! My comment disappeared. Anyway....

    A visit to the Huntington is always a good thing, but add in a plant sale and WOW. That would be fabulous. I'm curious if you heard any of satellite sounds? I watched the video in the link (thank you).

    Oh, and you got a Grevillea victorae 'Murray Valley Queen'! Yay!!

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    1. Sorry, comment disappearances happen to me periodically too, usually when I'm posting on a Wordpress blog. There's no accounting for it.

      I did spend a few moments inside the Orbit Pavilion and heard some other-worldly sounds but quickly went off to collect my husband, thinking he, the scientist in the family, would be interested. But he was getting cranky and wanted to get out of the heat so we didn't go back and I therefore can't elaborate with details. I was very pleased to find that Grevillea - I've never seen it anywhere else here.

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  10. Was the sale scary-busy? Perhaps it was somewhat less crazy because of the crazy temperatures. What wonderful plants you got--I haven't even heard of most of them, so they must be good!

    The Sphaeralcea ambigua sounds very appealing, but hard to spell!

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    1. Ha! I've a problem spelling Sphaeralcea too. Perhaps we should just call it by its common name, desert mallow. I've seen it in flower on other blogs and have been looking for it for some time. I put it in the spot formerly occupied by the now-dead Phylica. The sale really wasn't very busy on Friday. I suspect there might have been more traffic on Saturday and Sunday, especially as the temperature kept dropping. Isn't it wonderful?! We even got 0.08/inch of rain overnight. There's more to come, I hope!

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  11. That looks like an enormous sale! I'm impressed you managed to leave with only two boxes! I hope you get cooler temperatures and rain. I'd be miserable if the temperatures were still that hot in October. The rainy season has definitely begun here, and now it's a matter of trying to get as much done between rainy days as possible.

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    1. It was a REALLY good sale. If it hadn't been so hot, I'd have tried to get my husband to drive to the LA Arboretum in nearby Arcadia - I've attended that sale before and it's also good. Luckily, the temperatures dropped dramatically this week and we've had a bit of drizzle, amounting to 0.08/inch of precipitation thus far. We're hoping for a bit more this weekend.

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  12. I love seeing images of this garden; there is so much to see and the sales area is impressive. I thought I was going to see a much bigger cash of plants; I think you were very restrained although the cost of the small pot was high. We were threatened with extremely heavy rain for Sunday which sadly came to not very much in my garden although a short distance away there was a lot more.

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    1. If my husband and I had brought a cart to tote my purchases out of there, I might have bought more, Christina. As it was, we were challenged to lug the 2 boxes of plants the considerable distance between the sale area and the parking lot. Next time, I'll be prepared!

      We didn't get much rain here either, not that a downpour was predicted. There was more rain in the forecast for later this week but that also seems to be drifting out of reach.

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