Vince and I celebrated our 4 year wedding anniversary by spending the day at the Huntington, where we walked around beautiful gardens, saw rare manuscripts at the library, and enjoyed artworks from Europe and the United States. The gardens were to die for, to say the least! Today, I want to share with you how to explore the Huntington botanical gardens to get the most out of this beautiful place.
History of the Huntington
Before exploring the gorgeous gardens, I want to give you a brief history of the Huntington. Businessman Henry Huntington bought what was then the San Marino Ranch in 1903. Him and his wife, Arabella, donated the 207 acres to the public in 1919.
This impressive estate gets almost 1 million visitors from around the country and world every year. Vince and I walked around the Huntington for almost 6 hours, and still didn’t see everything there was here!
To find out more about this beautiful place, check out the Huntington website to plan your visit.
The Botanical Gardens of the Huntington
Out of the 207 acres, 120 of these acres are devoted to the 16 different types of gardens you can enjoy here. We were able to see most of them, as explained below. Keep reading to find out about 10 of the gardens to explore in this beautiful place!
The first garden we were able to see right after stepping on the property was the California garden. A beautiful water feature goes straight through this picturesque garden, giving a sense of tranquility while enjoying the beauty of the native plants all around.
Many of the 50,000 native plants featured here are grown all over the world. Plants that can be viewed include pepper trees,
Hesperaloe parviflora, Spanish lavender, California poppies, yarrow, and aeonium, among others.
Next, we walked through the Shakespeare Garden.
The Shakespeare Garden is a replica of an English garden, between two of the art galleries on the property. Many of the plants featured in this garden are mentioned in Shakespeare’s works. Several rose varieties common in English gardens can be found here, such as musk rose and old damask.
Thyme, violets, a pomegranate tree, daisies, pansies, daffodils, rosemary, a willow tree, and more can be enjoyed here. These plants represent ones mentioned in works such as Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Love’s Labour’s Lost, A Winter’s Tale, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
If you want to learn more about English gardens, visit my friend Sophie’s blog, Old House in the Shires. Check out her article on the Great Chalfield Manor Gardens to get an idea of what an English Garden looks like in England.
Right next to the Shakespear garden is an arbor, which leads to the breathtaking Rose garden. This garden was my favorite and we were able to view it several times while walking the grounds. This garden contains three acres of about 1,200 varieties of roses in every color imaginable.
Most were in full bloom and this area looks like a different world because of the colors, smells, and sheer number (about 3,000) of roses found here. Arabella Huntington greatly enjoyed roses, so it’s no coincidence that this beautiful garden is featured on the property.
After we ventured through the rose garden and took pictures, we walked to the Japanese garden. We entered from the top, where we could get a great view of the moon bridge over the lake filled with colorful koi fish. We spent some time enjoying this peaceful area before walking to other points of interest in this garden.
On the other side of the lake on a hill was the Japanese house, ceremonial teahouse, and Bonsai collection. The bonsai collection included an impressive array of bonsai trees in various sizes, from tiny to quite large.
We entered the Chinese garden through a beautiful courtyard decorated with various plants, flowers, and trees. A small waterfall could be heard and seen nearby. On one side of the courtyard was a Chinese restaurant that Vince and I went to for lunch.
Various plants and and Chinese structures could be seen all over this area. The Chinese garden is so large that it had it’s own map! The lake was being drained for renovation, but this area was still impressive with the many Chinese buildings, bridges, statues and plants that could be found here.
After enjoying lunch, we wandered into the Jungle garden to explore this and other gardens in the area. You definitely feel like you are in a jungle with the huge trees, vines hanging from various trees, and vegetation with large leaves all around.
Tropical plants such as bromelaids, elephant ears, orchids, calla lillies, ferns, bamboos, palms, and other plants can be found growing here. This garden would be a great place to get a break from the heat with all the shade and tall, canopy trees that grow here.
The Subtropical garden was right next to the Jungle garden, and many of the plants seemed to overlap in both areas. There were many colorful plants and a waterfall/brook that ran through this area, making it a serene place to relax and take pictures.
A sausage tree, along with many colorful varieties of the familiar and local salvia, among others, could be found here.
The desert garden was one of the larger gardens at the Huntington. There is an impressive display of large succulents, cactus, and other desert plants here. This garden is almost 100 years old, with one of the largest collection of succulents and cacti in the world. There are over 2,000 species of these plants thriving here.
I’m use to my little succulents on my balcony, so I was impressed with the number and sheer size of the plants in this area. I forget how many kinds of different plants were here, but enjoyed the display.
Last, but not least, we ventured through the Australian garden. This was after walking to the edge of the desert garden.Eucalyptus, acacia, and the distinctive kangaroo paws were found here.
There were other familiar and not so familiar plants that grew here. It was a nice, quiet walk back up to the rest of the property. We further explored other areas before making our way home.
The Huntington Botanical Gardens
Vince and I spent about 6 hours at the Huntington, and still didn’t see every part of the property. We did enjoy most of the gardens, the library, and both art galleries.
I hope you enjoyed my abbreviated tour of the Huntington Botanical Gardens. If you are ever in the Los Angeles area, I highly recommend you stop by to explore this beautiful place for yourselves. Let me know what you think in the comments section below!