The Huntington Botanical Gardens

By: Tara Feld – Landscape Designer

Contributor’s website:  Tara Feld Design
Spectacular botanical gardens in Los Angeles are a joy to explore. The Huntington Botanical Gardens located in San Marino are incredible. This mesmerizing botanical collection is massive covering 120 acres of the 207-acre grounds. It is truly a challenge to see over a dozen gardens in a day. Visiting the Huntington Library and the Huntington Gallery is also a treat. The Huntington Library is one of the finest research libraries in the world. The Huntington Gallery features a spectacular art collection featuring paintings by Mary Cassett, Sir Thomas Lawrence, and Thomas Gainsborough. Here is a photo essay of my day in the botanical gardens. 
On the right is the view from the Huntington Art Gallery towards the Rose Garden. The Rose Garden showcases “the history of the rose over 2,000 years”. The image left features Huntington’s Hero, the signature rose of Henry E. Huntington and his wife Arabella Huntington.  This unique hybrid rose blooms in delicate shades of cream to blush on the same shrub. 
The Jungle Garden canopy is lush and magical. The African Ficus thonningii trees featured above have dramatic roots structures that grow downwards like a curtain of ropes. Once these tendrils of roots mature and reunite with the earth they quickly thicken into trunks.  The Monstera deliciosa the ‘Swiss-cheese plant’ from Hawaii thrives in this jungle habitat. By utilizing the tree trunk as its trellis the Monstera deliciosa vine winds its way towards the sky seeking sunlight. The image on the right is a Staghorn fern growing directly onto the Ficus thonningii’s trunk.
The Jungle Garden features a tranquil waterfall, stream and pond.  This bronze statue of a female at the Jungle pond is beautifully framed by tropical plants: silver colored ‘Puya coerulea var violacea’ from Chile, lush green foliage of Canna ‘Empire’ from Central and South America, and green stalks of Papyrus from Egypt. The vibrant lime green tropical Tillandsia plants weaving themselves through out the landscape are wonderful. The image on the left features large heart shaped tropical leaves of the Colocasia esculenta.  The Colocasia esculenta is also know as the ‘Elephant Ear Plant’, “taro” or “coco yam”. This broad-leafed plant can grow to the height of 2 – 8 feet in height and thrives growing beside a stream in a tropical habitat. The large leaves of the ‘Elephant Ear Plant’ function to rain catch water and disperse it outwards hydrating the plants wider root structure.
The sweet fragrance of the Clerodendrum philippinum is intoxicating. This beautiful perennial shrub has soft tropical leaves dotted with clusters of small white flowers.  Growing primarily in China and Japan the Clerodendrum philippinum matures to the height of six feet and can be invasive propagating with underground runners.

The mysterious and tranquil Lily Ponds are nestled in a forest of tall bamboo. In the summer time the Lotus flowers bloom in a spectacular array of hot pink to white colors. The water lilies bloom from summer to fall as detailed above on the right. Sit on a bench next to the pond and observe water turtles swim and sun themselves on the surface of the water.
The Desert Garden is delightful. The landscape is so abstract that you feel as if you are on another planet. Massive clusters of Cactus, Puya, Aloe and Agave dot the garden. I adore drought tolerant trees like this yellow blooming Acasia used to backdrop the large-scale elements of the barrel cactus and silver blue Agave. 
Stunning large-scale yucca trees, dragon trees, and pony tail palms tower over the collection of pipe cactus and barrel cactus. This stunning Yucca filifera in the Huntington Desert Garden is one of the tallest specimens known to exist. It is often confused with the Joshua Tree of the Mojave Desert, however it origin is from Mexico.
Here are some of my favorite Cactus and Agave specimens from the Desert Garden. The massive clusters of Barrel Cactus fascinated me. This particular cluster of barrel cactus featured on the left was 4-5 feet in height.
For more information regarding THE HUNTINGTON Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens visit The address is 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, California 91108.  Phone number 626.405.2100
Admission on WEEKDAYS:
$15 for adults, $12 seniors, $10 students, free for kids under the age of 5.
Admission on WEEKENDS:
$20 for adults, $15 seniors, $10 students, $6 for youth
Special Thanks and gratitude this month to Fred Feld, Diana Lipnick, The Klein Family, Eric and Athena Lake, Crystal Perez and Jennifer Dali. 
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Contributor’s website: Tara Feld Design

Images: All images and photography by TARA FELD DESIGN, copyright TARA FELD 2011.
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