General Press Kit
The Botanical Collections at The Huntington
1903 Henry E. Huntington (1850–1927) purchased the San Marino Ranch, a working ranch
about 12 miles from downtown Los Angeles with citrus groves, nut and fruit orchards,
alfalfa crops, a small herd of cows, and poultry. His superintendent, William Hertrich
(1878–1966), was instrumental in developing the various plant collections that comprise
the foundation of The Huntington’s botanical gardens. The property—originally nearly
600 acres—today covers 207 acres, of which approximately 120 are landscaped and
open to visitors. Some 14,000 different varieties of plants are showcased in more
than a dozen principal garden areas.
Garden features some 150 species of eucalyptus plus acacias, bottle
brushes, cycads, and melaleucas.
The Huntington’s distinguished Camellia collection, located in the Chinese and
Japanese gardens as well as in the North Vista areas, features nearly 80 different
species and more than 1,200 cultivated varieties covering 10 to 12 acres. Shaded
by oak trees, gravel paths meander among sasanqua, japonica, and reticulata species
plus other species of camellias and hybrids. A cultivar,
Camellia japonica ‘Henry E. Huntington’ (a large pink, semi-double),
hybridized by Nuccio’s Nurseries in Altadena, was introduced in September 1994 in
honor of The Huntington’s 75th anniversary.
Helen and Peter Bing Children’s Garden introduces youngsters to the
wonders of the natural world with interactive sculptural elements based on the themes
of earth, air, light, and water. With elements designed by California kinetic artist
Ned Kahn, the garden features a fog grotto, rainbow room, magnetic sand, pebble
chimes, prism tunnel, and other attractions that have proven irresistible to children.
The Huntington’s 3.5-acre Chinese Garden, the Garden of Flowing Fragrance,
or Liu Fang Yuan, features a lake, a complex of pavilions and bridges, a teahouse,
and a landscape showcasing native Chinese plants among native oaks, redwoods, and
pines. Reflecting the traditional style of scholar gardens in Suzhou, China, the
garden incorporates the craftsmanship of Chinese artisans as well as rocks and other
materials imported from China.
Botanical education has become a focal point for The Huntington, and The Rose Hills Foundation Conservatory for Botanical
Science is expressly geared toward engaging middle-school-age
students and their families in inquiry-based learning about plants, ecosystems,
and biodiversity using scientific tools and living plants.
Desert Garden comprises approximately 10 acres, featuring one of
the largest and most distinguished outdoor collections of cacti and succulents in
the world. More than 4,000 species can be seen here, including the
Puya chilensis from Chile, with its towering chartreuse blooms; “Crown
of Thorns” (Euphorbia milii var. splendens)
from Madagascar; Epiphytic cacti from tropical regions of Latin America;
Chorisia insignis (Floss silk tree) from Argentina; Black aeonium (Aeonium
arboreum ‘Zwartkop’) from northern Africa;
Sempervivum arachnoideum (“Cobweb plant”) from the mountains
of Europe; and the boojum tree (Fouquieria columnaris)
from Mexico as well as crassulas, agaves, aloes, yuccas, and many other beautiful
and fascinating dry-climate plants.
Japanese Garden, established in 1912 and renovated in 2012, features
koi ponds, a moon bridge, a Japanese house, a ceremonial teahouse, and bonsai courts.
Plants include flowering peach, apricot, Formosan cherry, large specimens of Cycas revoluta (cycads), wisteria, willow,
Japanese red pine, Japanese maple (Acer palmatum),
camellias, azaleas, ginkgo trees (in the Zen Garden, added in 1968), and a large
collection of bonsai trees.
Growing near the waterfall in the Jungle Garden are many varieties of gingers, ferns, calla
lilies, and bromeliads. A shady canopy is provided by towering trees, such as the
Ombú tree from Argentina, with its massive water-storing base, and the
Ficus columnaris, with vine-like aerial roots extending down from upper
branches to form new trunks.
Lily Ponds were the first area of the gardens to be developed, in
1904. Bamboos, water lilies, Sacred Indian lotus, and other aquatic plants can be
The North Vista frames a view of the San
Gabriel Mountains and is flanked on each side by rows of 18th-century Italian sculptures
with an Italian Renaissance stone fountain at the farthest end. Tall columns of
“Fountain Palms” (Livistona australis)
line each side of the North Vista. Beyond these lie several acres of camellias and
Palm Garden was begun in 1905. Almost all of the more than 200 species
of palm that can be grown in Southern California’s dry climate are represented.
They include Chamaerops humilis, the only
palm native to Europe; Washingtonia filifera,
the only native Californian palm; the endangered Chilean wine palm
Jubaea chilensis (which has the thickest trunk of any palm); and the
Canary Island palm Phoenix canariensis.
The Rose Garden
was created in 1908 and comprises approximately three acres. More than 1,200 cultivars
(approximately 4,000 individual plants) are featured, arranged historically to trace
the development of roses from ancient to modern times. It includes forms dating
to the pre-Christian era; early European roses from Medieval and Renaissance times;
Tea and China roses introduced into Europe around 1800; classic hybrid teas, floribundas,
polyanthas, and miniatures; and David Austin’s modern “English Roses.” The entrance
pathway leads to an 18th-century French stone tempietto and statue, “Love, the Captive
of Youth,” encircled by ‘French Lace’ roses.
Shakespeare Garden pays tribute to The Huntington’s early editions
of Shakespeare’s works and includes a number of plants and flowers mentioned in
the Bard’s plays. Small plaques accompany various plants with quotes from relevant
lines or verses: “It was the nightingale, and not the lark, That pierc'd the fearful
hollow of thine ear; Nightly she sings on yond pomegranate-tree” (Romeo
and Juliet, Act III, Scene V); “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance”
(Hamlet, Act IV, Scene V). Some of the
less obvious Shakespearean plants in the garden include wild thyme, garlic, woodbine,
grape, crab-apple, myrtle, sweet violet, lemon balm, fern, and holly. Other colorful
perennials suitable to California’s climate complete the landscape.
Subtropical Garden, plants from the Mediterranean region and other
subtropical climes provide a colorful display almost year-round: flowering trees
include cassias, cape chestnut, bauhinias, tabebuias, and jacarandas.