Assessing the Damage

Posted on Mon., Dec. 5, 2011 by Lisa Blackburn
Fallen trees surrounding an 18th century statue
A near-miss for an 18th-century statue in the North Vista. Photo by Laurie Sowd.

On Sunday The Huntington reopened after three days of cleanup and assessment of damage wrought by the severe windstorm that tore through the Pasadena area on Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

At first glance, visitors saw scenes similar to what they had been finding throughout San Marino, Pasadena, and the surrounding cities of San Gabriel Valley. Many large trees at The Huntington were toppled and countless broken limbs and piles of debris lined perimeter roads, pathways, and sections of the parking lot. This is an institution composed of collections, and the trees are primary among them. The tree losses we've sustained are serious; some very old and very important specimens are down. The tall Italian stone pine that stood at the base of the subtropical garden fell, as did a large deodar near the north entrance of the Chinese garden, temporarily blocking the adjacent road. A number of trees were so damaged they will have to be removed; preliminary estimates suggest as many as 100 in all.

But garden statuary sustained only minimal damage, much to the relief of curators, and buildings came through relatively unscathed. And many of the iconic and beloved trees, such as the ombu tree at the foot of the Jungle Garden and the Montezuma cypresses in the middle of the Rose Garden, still stand strong. We'll continue to assess the damage and provide updates.

In the meantime, for safety reasons, some areas of the gardens will remain closed for a period of time while damage is assessed, particularly in areas with a large tree canopy, such as the Jungle Garden. But many popular garden areas are open, including the Desert Garden, Rose Garden, Chinese Garden, Children's Garden, and The Rose Hills Foundation Conservatory for Botanical Science. The Zen Garden and Bonsai Court, which had remained open during the Japanese Garden renovation, will now be closed to visitor access until the Japanese Garden reopens in April.

You can view additional photos of the aftermath on Flickr.

Lisa Blackburn is communications coordinator at The Huntington.