Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Huntington Garden visit - lovely desert section

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Huntington Gardens in Pasadena California.  Classic example of a wealthy individuals creating a large public space – and I thank him for doing so.

In 1903 Henry Huntington purchased the San Marino Ranch, a working ranch with citrus groves, nut and fruit orchards, alfalfa crops, a small herd of cows, and poultry. Today there are 120 acres landscaped and open to visitors. More than 14,000 different varieties of plants are showcased in more than a dozen principal garden areas. My favorite by far is the desert section – which seems to go on and on and on!

For me it is a special treat since I love working with succulents at Garfield Park Conservatory – but here it is all natural and outside. A very different experienceJ.   While lingering in this part of the garden I started to actually prune and clean up many items which appeared to be suffering from too much water. Some also had a blight or fungus on them.  This was much to the dismay of my companion who said that I wasn’t trained to work here – and she was right. So I sought out one of the gardeners and curatorial staff to get a bit more information.  Small world – as we realized that one of his acquaintances had worked at GPCA.

It turns out that it has been a very challenging year from them. In December they received over 12 inches of rain – which is what they typically get all year.  They do not have a way to drain the area – not update the soil for many of these mature plants. Hence, several are suffering from overwatering.  Also the nights have been cold – and the heaters which are arranged around the African cultivars are working overtime.

Two varieties surprised me.  One was a yellow jade tree – I believe a Crassula ovata 'Hummel's Sunset'. It was a stark contrast to the greenery around it. And I do love Jade J  The second I believe was a variation of a Schlumbergera a genus of tree-dwelling cactus which is a tropical rainforest epiphytes.  I took my picture next to it – you can see how awesome this is. 

I highly recommend!  It was a very enjoyable day. And after you wander the gardens – you can visit the art museum and store.