Frances and Sidney Brody California Garden
One of the first things visitors notice when arriving at The Huntington is the stunning California Garden. Landscaped with nearly 50,000 California natives and dry-climate plants, covering an area of 6.5 acres, the garden reflects the local Mediterranean climate as well as both the agricultural and elegant estate history of the 207-acre Huntington grounds. A long, olive-lined allée leads visitors through garden spaces that complement the buildings in the Steven S. Koblik Education and Visitor Center, which include the orientation gallery, auditorium, café, and classrooms.
EXTRA: Huntington landscape designer Scott Kleinrock shares 12 tips for creating a sustainable garden - Pasadena Weekly
For this year’s Earth Day, Scott Kleinrock, landscape design and planning coordinator for the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, has listed 12 ways to create a more sustainable garden. Use plants appropriate to where you live. Consider the amount of sun, shade, wind and rain each part of your garden receives. Native plants that are appropriate to your area can be very low in their water requirements and are the best plants for attracting native beneficial insects, song birds and butterflies. Drought-tolerant selections cut your water needs. read on
EXTRA: Top 4 Native Plants for the Southern California Garden
Huntington Ranch Garden apprentice Ellen Herra reviews four top performing native Californian plants for the drought-conscious home gardener... read on
Mediterranean plants from all over the world
Showcased in the garden are a broad range of drought-tolerant plants that can thrive in Southern California—from native plants you might see hiking in the nearby San Gabriel mountains to unusual specimens from far-off areas that share a Mediterranean climate, such as parts of Australia, South Africa, and southern Europe.
Visitors arrive from the parking lot under soft, dappled shade provided by more than a dozen large California pepper trees (Schinus molle) and then enter a courtyard seating area sheltered by four stately podocarpus trees (mature Podocarpus gracilior, relocated from elsewhere on the property). A long allée of fruitless olives (Olea europea ‘Wilsonii’) leads to the Education and Visitor Center’s formal entrance.
EXTRA: Going Green with Lawn Alternatives
California’s punishing drought has produced one positive effect: local gardens have gained some freedom from the expectation of the classic green lawn. More and more gardeners are removing lawn in favor of landscapes that look good while using less water. Scott Kleinrock, The Huntington's landscape design and planning coordinator - and designer of the California Garden - shares some wonderful alternatives to the classic green lawn with landscapes that look great and use less water... read on
Learn more about what The Huntington is doing to reduce water consumption.
On either side of the allée are “hedge rooms” that enclose benches and tables, delineated by dwarf myrtle (Myrtus communis ‘Compacta’) that will grow to be about three feet tall, lending the hedge rooms a sense of intimacy. Over time, oak trees like the Pasadena oak (Quercus engelmannii) and Cork oak (Quercus suber, a European native) will reach their full, majestic size and help temper even the most extreme summer heat. (Pasadena oaks grow to 30 feet or more and cork oaks grow twice as tall.)
Understory plants add a burst of year-round color—as well as wacky shapes. It’s hard to be more dramatic than the showy Australian native Grevillea ‘Moonlight’, with its bright white blooms. Native plants from the American southwest also add vibrant hues to the garden’s palette, such as Hesperaloe parviflora, a desert plant with intense, red flowers that hummingbirds find irresistible.
The Rose Hills Foundation Garden Court, a glass-domed area, is one spot where a little water goes a long way. A fretted rooftop and huge fans drop the temperature a few degrees, creating a microclimate that supports lush, exotic plants. Here you’ll find palm trees shading Tasmanian tree ferns (Dicksonia antarctica) and, climbing the court’s columns, the flowering Cup of Gold Vine (Solandra maxima) and Easter Lily Vine (Beaumontia grandiflora).
At the end of the olive-lined allée, the garden transitions to the historic core of The Huntington property. A Celebration Garden greets visitors with a gentle slope lined with terraced flowered beds and a shallow stream of recirculated water that empties into a rectangular pool. Throughout the Celebration Garden, flowers bloom in a riot of colors. You’ll find the intense blues of Canary Island lavender (Lavandula canariensis) and Otto Quast Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas ‘Otto Quast’), as well as a rainbow of yarrow, penstemon, kangaroo paw, aeonium, and California poppy. Meanwhile, cheerful, elegant Lemon Queen lavender cotton (Santolina neapolitana ‘Lemon Queen’) demonstrates how at home a Mediterranean native plant can be in California.
Standing at the bottom of the Celebration Garden, visitors should take a moment to turn around and look back. On a clear day, the San Gabriel Mountains provide a fitting backdrop to The Huntington’s new California garden.