I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, Los Angeles has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to museums, galleries, gardens, parks, etc. And I feel fortunate that I could spend the rest of my life going out every day and visiting these places and still not be done. But because of other responsibilities and priorities I don’t get out and around enough and I am always missing exhibitions and events that I really want to see.
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino (next door to Pasadena) is a place I could visit once a week and still find something new. Once a month they have a free day. But you have to be on the phone or email the nanosecond they open up the reservation lines in order to get a ticket. Ticketing opens at 9:00 am the first day of the previous month. By 9:02 am they are sold out! I was lucky enough to score a pass for September 4.
Getting there from Culver City without a car is quite a trek. But you know I love public transportation so I left my beautiful car at home and set out for a long and twisted journey by train. My ticket was good for a morning entrance anytime before noon. Sometimes in the mornings time gets away from me, and my goodness, it surely did this morning. I knew I had a two and a half hour trip ahead of me and I left the house at 9:30!
A twenty-minute fast walk got me from my front door to the Culver City station platform. Then a change from the Expo Line to the Red Line. Then from the Red Line to the Gold Line. Normally I enjoy all the “training” but this day I was in a sweat because time was ticking by. Not to mention it was a very warm, humid day. We won’t go into that…
I arrived at my destination, Allen Station in Pasadena, at 11:20. I knew it was a 30 minute walk to the Huntington gate, then probably another ten minutes through the parking lot to the entrance. Huff puff, huff puff. If somebody had thrown a bucket of ice on me at that point I would have been grateful!
I did see a bus go by but it turned a few blocks ahead of me so it wouldn’t have helped much. I like to walk. I just don’t like it when I have no time to spare.
I arrived at the entrance minutes before my ticket supposedly expired. I handed it over and the guy didn’t even look at it… gaaah, I could have sauntered in there at 2:00pm and nobody would have cared. Oh well, I know I got there on time and that’s all that counts!
The park closes at 4:30 so even though I wasn’t there as early as I would have liked (I intended to be there by 10:30) I had several hours to saunter around taking photos. I knew I wasn’t going to hit any of the galleries this time… that will be another blog post. I primarily wanted to take some shots of the Desert Garden as that is my favorite area.
I don’t know exactly what the temperature was on this day. San Marino, tucked up against the mountains and far, far away from the ocean, can get pretty much beyond my tolerance for heat… which is why I live in a more temperate climate. For instance, today the temperature is soaring to 97 F (36 C) degrees in San Marino and only 85 F (29 C) in Culver City. Anything above 80 F (26 C) degrees makes my blood boil.
Whatever the temperature was it was certainly perfect for the cacti and other desert plants. I had to take a couple of photos then dive for the nearest patch of shade. I didn’t have water with me but there were drinking fountains in strategic locations which saved me from turning into bacon.
As you can see, I love taking shots of winding paths and there are plenty in the Desert Garden. It’s easy to get lost!
The Desert Garden covers ten acres. It began 100 years ago with plants from local nurseries, private residences, public parks, and from collection trips to the Southwest and Mexican deserts. Today it has grown to over 5,000 species.
In our severe Southern California drought, this is the kind of garden we should all have…. dig up your lawns and plant a desert garden!
Desert plants aren’t exactly roses bushes or geraniums in their flowering patterns so when you do see a little splash of color it is that much more exciting.
I think I probably enjoy cactus as I was brought up in England and didn’t see one growing in the wild until I was a teenager. In all their various shapes and configurations, desert plants never cease to fascinate me. If we do find life on Mars my guess is they will be growing cacti in their front yards!
I would have loved to linger longer in the Desert Garden but the heat was really getting to me. The water in the drinking fountains I encountered was warm and I needed deep shade.
So although this bench was tempting for a little rest I decided my best option was to find an area with water… like the lily ponds.
Fortunately the ponds were just a few yards away so I reluctantly said farewell to my prickly friends and headed over there.
I’ll sort through the photos from the rest of my day at the Huntington and be back with some cooler images on another post.
In the meantime, enjoy the rest of the Desert Garden!
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