Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Huntington Gardens, Part 1

Part of my continuing series on our October trip to California...

This is it! The last focus of my October vacation posts, I can't believe it’s taken me five months to get here! The Huntington Gardens were amazing. I learned of the gardens by accident, I ran across a book called “Desert Plants, A Curators Introduction to the Huntington Desert Gardens” and while reading it fell in love with the gardens.When we started planning our vacation this was one of my must-see destinations. Of course the gardens are much more than “just” the Desert Gardens; there are more than a dozen different gardens that cover 120 acres on the 207-acre grounds.

I’m saving the best for last and taking you through the Desert Gardens tomorrow. Today, everything else (well, everything else that we saw in the 4.5 hours they were open, we could have stayed for at least another couple of hours)…the Lily Ponds, the Jungle Gardens, Subtropical Gardens, Palm Gardens, and the Australian Garden. Unfortunately I only got the name of just a few of these fabulous plants; I’ll share the name when I can.

For starters…why do people have to be so rude? This huge bamboo grove had names carved into almost every one. There were several signs asking people not to do it, obviously the temptation was just to much for some.
This little guy greeted us as we approached the Lily Pond garden.
I was blown away by the size of this Melianthus major...
And the Papyrus too! (that’s the Melianthus peaking out on the ride side)

These Philodendron leaves were amazing! They were at least 2.5-3ft wide.
I’m sure this will make me sound super dumb but…I always thought these flowers grew the other direction, heading down not up.We found this huge fruit on the ground, several of them actually. But strangely we couldn’t tell where they came from.

Crotalaria Agatiflora ssp. Imperialis
The Sonchus acaulis...a relative of…can you guess?
The dandelion!…the flowers give it away

Finishing with the regal Bismarckia nobilis..
Tomorrow…the Desert Garden!!!!!!!! (I get all excited just thinking about it!)


  1. Great pictures. Heliconia do both (up and downward flower stalks) apparently. And that Philodendron! I think I need to visit this place sometimes. Looking forward to the desert garden pictures.

  2. What a great collection of plants. heleconia blooms go either up or down-i fact most i have seen are up, rather than hanging. That Sonchus acaulis looks so cool-wonder if one can get seeds for that... Did you keep any seeds of the strange fruit to plant and see what you get? I would have!

  3. Wow, this is going on my bucket list for must-see gardens. Amazing! Looks like a great place to spend a day. That funky fruit looks a bit like a pawpaw but the seeds seem wrong. Heliconia are all over Hawaii, they seem almost like weeds there. What are they feeding that papyrus and philodendron to make them grow so vigorously? Wowza! Great job on the tour, you got way farther than I ever did with my SF series that never happened!

  4. Thank you for these blogs- I grow up in N. California , but have never seen any of these places...

  5. Wow Loree, at first glance I'm like too bad that blue leafed plant isn't hardy. Oh, it's a Melianthus. [Click to enlarge.] NICE! Love the Papyrus too. The turtle is a cutie. I'll be tuning in tomorrow.

  6. A lot of the hardier species of Heliconia that can be grown in California are upright bloomers. The one in your photo is probably one of the hardiest, being grown as a dieback perennial in the Gulf Coastal USA, H. scheideana. The downward facing Heliconia species are mostly distressed by our long cool winters, and only H. rostrata is occasionally persuaded to bloom in the warmest southern California gardens, but won't really take the occasional freezes at the Huntington.

  7. Andrew, you do need to visit! You won't be disappointed.

    Nicole, we didn't take any seeds. I was rather hypoglycemic by this time in the gardens and really wasn't thinking to clearly. My advice to anyone visiting Huntington...if you don't want to take time out to eat in the cafe then pack snacks!

    Karen, you know it's not too late for your SF series. I for one would love to see it anytime!

    linda, do you ever make it back for a visit? Maybe you could check out a couple?

    Grace, I think this is the year I finally get a Melianthus.

    Anon, thank you for putting a name to a beautiful flower I've loved but never been able to id, the H. Rostrata.


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