Pasadena’s Huntingdon Gardens Revisited22nd February 2019 • Places to Visit • Daniel Carruthers
It’s decades since I last visited the Huntingdon Gardens and my memory of them was quite hazy, other than admiring the Japanese bridge and seeing hippeastrums growing outdoors, so it was top on my list of places to go when we had a two-night stopover in Los Angeles en route to Tasmania.
It has clearly been spraunced up a fair bit since my last visit and parts of it are quite breathtaking – in particular the Desert Garden – it is astonishing. I’m not sure how I missed seeing it on my first visit as it covers ten acres and is nearly 100 years old and filled with a magnificent array of very large and very prickly customers. Mind you, I did have a toddler in tow at the time, so it was probably best avoided!
The contrasting shapes and textures create a magnificent tapestry. I was particularly struck by the golden barrel cacti that were grown from seed before 1915 and many of which now weigh several hundreds of pounds. There are yuccas reaching sixty feet and two hundred species of aloe, many of which were in full flaming flower.
Buds were emerging on the cacti, but it would be a few weeks before they added further colour to the landscape.
One of the most interesting aspects of the Desert Garden was the birdsong – whilst it was quite muted in the rest of the Huntingdon Gardens, amongst the nectar-rich aloes it was unmissable. They clearly loved this garden as much as I did and should you find yourself in Los Angeles make sure that you go there too – you won’t be disappointed.