Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Getty Center

If ever you are in Los Angeles and have an interest in art, architecture or gardens, then a visit to the Getty Center is a MUST! I visited a few years back but was delighted to make a return trip with my friend Jim just a couple of weeks ago. Having arrived and parked in an immense subterranean car park, we took an amazing little hovertrain funicular that transported us up 900ft  to the hilltop where the 24 acre Getty Center is located. After Paul Getty's death in 1976, the Getty Trust purchased this site to build a museum and house his art collection. The first amazing thing was that its free - no admission charge!

The architecture is startling. It was designed by Richard Meier and opened in 1997 after extensive delays. Most of the buildings are clad in beautiful travertine, a white form of limestone. The shapes include strong geometric patterns, contrasted with sweeping curves, echoed in the landscaping. As it's a gallery I must say something about the art which is of the highest calibre. It was great to stand in front of Van Gogh's original irises and marvel at this famous painting, finished in the asylum where he was incarcerated for insanity. (A sobering thought as I pursue my own painting activities!) Having said that it's the architecture and gardens that steal the show!

Throughout the site there are many examples of good landscape, excellent tree planting, bold sweeps of grass, strong hedges and some striking water features. Small pocket gardens appear in various locations such as the wonderful cactus garden with its splendid view out over Los Angeles.

However for me the highlight was the Central Garden, which I had loved on my last visit.  The centre of the circular garden is a huge pool containing a maze of azaleas which seem to float on the water. On my last visit these were just green and created a strong and pleasing patter. On this occasion, they were in flower - a sight to rival almost any azalea garden! 

Our last visit with the azaleas out of bloom

Surrounding the pool there is a path lined with borders packed with  shrubs, herbaceous, annuals, bedding, climber and bulbs all planted in meticulously co-ordinated groups. It reminded me of the level of planting at places in the UK such as Sissinghurst Castle and Hidcote Manor. But the planting here is so spectacular that I'll reserve that for the next episode - sorry to keep you all waiting!

1 comment:

  1. And thanks for your unique take on the Getty garden areas - most of what you saw, I missed since time ran out on my afternoon visit last spring. The central garden with plants into the water are nice, but I actually like how the lawn areas (lower level?) look with the stone, and people laying around...I looked down there with envy last year. Must go again, but by myself so I can spend the time I need.