Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Visit to the Los Angeles County Arboretum

I admit I haven't been to the Los Angeles County Arboretum in many years.  Fifty miles to the east of my current residence, getting there takes more than an hour and requires navigation of 4 freeways.  However, enticed by notice of a fall plant sale, I convinced my husband to join me in a visit on a hot, dry October day.  We arrived a little over an hour after the garden opened.  Maybe a lot of sale plants moved out the door during that first hour but I was disappointed by both the volume and range of plants available as I remembered more robust plant sales in the past (although conceivably, those were held in the spring).

I think the stock at my local botanic garden's recent sale was larger and more varied, although I still managed to pick up a Salvia 'Bee's Bliss', which I'd had on my wish list, and several small succulents


Having made the drive, we weren't about to pack up and immediately head for home so we weathered the heat and began exploring.

I think this is another Silk Floss Tree (Ceiba speciosa), like those I showed in a recent post on the South Coast Botanic Garden near me.  Both gardens are operated by Los Angeles County and many of SCBG's plants came from the Arboretum.

From the entrance area, we wandered into the Prehistoric Forest, which featured many mature cycads

The forest sits adjacent to Baldwin Lake, which is slated for restoration.  The dragon is part of a "Moonlight Forest" event scheduled to kick off on October 26th and continue through January 6th.

While the dragon and his pals are temporary, there were also plenty of regular lake denizens on hand


Our next stop was Crescent Farm, created by the Arboretum a few years ago to help Southern California residents reimagine their landscapes, saving precious water in the process.

I was intrigued by the Farm's motto: "Water is our Crop."  The farm's guidelines for reinventing landscapes for the drier future we face included many of my own areas of emphasis: use climate-adapted plants; build soil to retain moisture; Irrigate efficiently; and capture rainwater.  The Farm also promotes the use of edible plants from arid climates.

The Farm was constructed using sheet mulching, hugelkultur, and swales to collect and direct water

There were a lot of signs to gently prod people to think differently about their own gardens



As temperatures continued to rise, we headed into the African and Australian Gardens.  Signs pointed out that South Africa and parts of Australia have Mediterranean climates like much of Southern California, suggesting the value of using plants from these areas of the world in our own landscapes.

African Garden

Australian Garden

Cordyline and Xanthorrhoea (aka Australian Grass Tree)


As we rounded back in the direction of the botanic garden's entrance, we stopped by the Tropical Greenhouse, which was probably my favorite part of the garden, at least at this time of year.  By contrast with the hot, dry conditions outside, the humid space was also far more pleasant!  I took a lot of photos there, some of which I previously posted in Instagram.  (Now seems as good a time as any to mention that I finally succumbed to the lure of Instagram and set up an account in July, which you can find here.)









While we were in the greenhouse a large family came through, some of the children talking excitedly of peacocks.  I ran into the first of many of those soon after we left the greenhouse.

As much as I tried, I was unable to encourage this fellow to flash his tail

Further proof that peacocks don't do what they're asked!  Glare made the sign hard to read from my photo but it says "Please do not climb on fountain." (This photo is my Wednesday Vignette.  For others, visit Anna at Flutter & Hum.)


The Arboretum is worth a visit, although I recommend selecting cooler conditions.  I appreciated the emphasis on educating the public and its recognition of the need to adapt to the demands of a changing climate.


All material © 2012-2018 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

24 comments:

  1. Impressive garden and arboretum. I'm glad to see they are educating the public as to the many possibilities available in selecting low-water plants. Your own garden is a beautiful example.

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    1. I have to say that I appreciated the validation of my approach, Eliza!

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  2. If you see a heatwave, do you wave back?
    We are locked in a few days of alarming temperatures - to be followed by snow at Sutherland on Tuesday!

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    1. Ha! When heatwaves show up, we hunker down, close all our blinds, turn on the air conditioning, and wait it out. We're also riding a weather roller-coaster - the Santa Ana winds are expected to pay us another, hopefully briefer, visit at the end of this week.

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  3. Beautiful post! I love botanical gardens. Only wish we had one near here. Those tropical houses are always so breathtaking. Love your vignette too! There is a plant broker near here that have an entire flock walking about when you pick up your plants. I just love looking at them - they are such amazing (albeit loud) birds!
    ~Anna K

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    1. Peacocks are also present on the peninsula on which I live. They were apparently brought in as gifts to a rich landowner in the early days of the 20th century and they did what birds do - procreate. They're now a source of local controversy. There are those who want them to be protected and others that post photos of them roasted on spits. I personally bear them no ill-will but I'm also glad they never hang around my neighborhood for long. I suspect the coyotes send them packing.

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  4. It's been eons since I went to the Arboretum as well-my friends and I used to go alot back in the late 60's and very early 70's. Along with Griffith Park it was a favored destination. I don't even remember the tropical greenhouse.

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    1. I visited more frequently back in the 90s than I have since. I still remember their plant sales fondly but perhaps those were spring events.

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  5. I probably wouldn't go anyplace if I had to navigate all that traffic. ha..
    I love seeing where you do go out and about. It looks like a different planet than where I live. All of those beautiful tender (here) plants. It looked like that peacock would have been embarrassed if he put up what was left of his tail.

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    1. The troublesome traffic has put a definite damper on the breadth of my plant searches in recent years, Lisa. I worked in downtown LA for 8 years (an awful commute no matter the day or time!) and later in Orange County (a 90-minute commute if I was lucky) and dealing with that kind of traffic wore thin. If my husband hadn't been willing to drive, I may well have skipped this trip.

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  6. Sorry that the plant sale was a bit of a disappointment after that long drive but the arboretum looks really interesting.

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    1. It was a nice visit despite the heat, Peter. It's been so long since I've been there, I had to reorient myself to the garden.

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  7. I fondly remember my visit a few years back, what a wonderful garden.

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    1. I'm very impressed that such a well-entrenched garden (opened in 1948) is ready, willing and able to step up to the issue of climate change, Loree.

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  8. Great shots Kris. That first photo of the Australian garden is so realistic it transported me back there.
    Ptolemy pheasant turned up at first light this morning with a new harem of five. Three of them were scratching about in the bottom terrace. Sigh.

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    1. Your Ptolemy clearly has plans for the future! I noticed only 2 peahens at the LA botanic garden (both seemingly trying to keep out of sight) but the males were all over the place.

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  9. Good job persisting with the heat and visiting so many areas. The LA arb may not be as swanky as the Huntington, but it has its own charm for sure.

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    1. No not swanky but I thought the tropical greenhouse rivaled that of Sherman Gardens.

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  10. The words "plant sale" would lure me too, and often do. I'm glad you were able to find a few goodies. I like that term "water is our crop" and it looks like there are some nice plantings there. But like you, the conservatory with all its lush foliage and flower are so much more my cup of tea. Let it rain!

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    1. You wouldn't believe how anxious I am about rain, Grace. Last year's rainfall was pathetic. NOAA says there's a 70% chance that a weak El Nino will bring us higher than normal rain this winter but there's still no signs of that in the long-term forecast.

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  11. I admire you for braving the heat. Too bad the plant sale was underwhelming. I agree, their tropical greenhouse is very beautiful.

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    1. My guess is that the LA Arboretum and South Coast Botanic Garden, both operated by LA County, operate on the premise that fall sales aren't the draw spring sales are, even though fall's the best time to plant. I wish both would try to drive the latter point home with the public by emphasizing their fall sales.

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  12. What a wonderful visit. I particularly loved the tropical house.

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    1. While I always appreciate tropical plants, I was surprised to find that the temperature and humidity levels inside the greenhouse were so much more comfortable than those outside - that isn't usually the case!

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