Sunday, May 31, 2015

Desert at its best

Having got rained off from our visit to the Huntington a couple of weeks ago, Jim and I decided to return Memorial weekend to see what we'd missed. In particular we wanted to see the desert garden which we had seen two years ago and you can read my previous blog here. This ten acre garden has been developing for over 100 years and is regarded as one of the finest desert gardens in the world. 

It features 5000+ carefully labelled species and cannot fail to enthuse any gardener about desert plants and landscape. Some of the 500+ barrel cactus originate from seed sown in 1915. Our last visit was in February when many of the aloes were in bloom but this later visit gave us wonderful color from numerous blooming cacti. I'm a convert! 
Agave americana 'Variegata' - common but just love the twisted leaves

Agave attenuata 'Boutin Blue'

Agave victoria-regina 'White Rhino'

Aloe vanbalenii (octopus aloe)

Beaucarnia recurvata

Climbing onion - not for the kitchen!

Caesalpinia cacaloco  - no desert animal would eat this!

Echinopsis hybrid

Name? A terrestrial bromeliad?


Lophocereus schottii - one of nature's ugly plants!

Notocactus warasii

Opuntia littoralis var austrocalifornica

Opuntia microdasys

Star of the show - Trichoceresus 'Apricot Glow' - I've got one on order!

X Echinobivia 'Watermelon'

Yucca rostrata

We did visit other parts of the garden and I'll share those with you next time but the desert garden was today's show stopper!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

A trip to the Orient

Last week after the Getty, well the next day actually, Jim and I visited the Huntington Library. We had seen the gardens a on a previous visit but lost track of time and didn't manage the art galleries on that occasion. This time we intended to see the art but with a forecast of rain, opted to do do gardens first. Last time the Chinese garden was hidden behind boarding and protected by 'Under Construction' signs. This time it was open! This is correctly called the 'Garden of Flowing Fragrance' and is the largest Chinese-style garden outside China, completed just this year. 'Architects and artisans from Suzhou, the renowned garden city of southern China, worked alongside California builders and gardeners. Chinese architecture and rocks from Lake Tai, placed around the water’s edge, balance native features such as the Californian oaks.'  To say 'completed' is not entirely correct as there are areas designated for future features.

Specially for Mark and Gaz!

I have no specific knowledge of Chinese gardens but observed that it seemed to be a series of beautifully contrived pictures, so was not surprised to read -  'A Chinese garden, it is said, is like a scroll painting, presenting a series of carefully composed scenes. New vistas are revealed as one strolls along the pathways, with a number of key elements combining to create a sense of harmony and of beauty.' For more detailed information, check out the information on the Huntington website .

We then explored the adjacent Japanese garden which was created over a hundred years ago and contains many beautiful mature specimen shrubs and trees. The center of the garden is  an authentic Japanese house shipped from Japan in 1904.

Then the rain came down and so we had to shelter indoors and explore the art, which by comparison to the gardens is a disappointment. We did however dash to the conservatory and enjoyed the orchids and other exotics in this beautifully maintained glasshouse. Whilst not a particular orchid lover, I couldn't help but be captivated by these beautiful specimens. I also changed from my regular Canon SLR to iPhone which seemed to be getting better images - no doubt my failure to use a proper camera properly! Anyway - enjoy!

The journey home was a tedious three hour crawl along the interstate in the rain! Anyway as we failed to explore all the gardens we have a good excuse top return tomorrow so hopefully more to tell you next time!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Getty again - and the garden!

Just made another trip to the Getty Center in Los Angeles.  The main reason was to see the Turner exhibition which was showing over 60 paintings from the Tate Britain, both oils and watercolors. Those of you that have seen the recent Mr Turner film will recall that he left most of his later paintings to the nation. I was also surprised to read of the practice of 'Varnishing Days' when key painters added the last touches to their paintings after hanging in the Royal Academy. I had thought this was a film-maker's whim but it was real and a practice that Turner took full advantage of, completeing his most dramatic pieces at the last minute in front of his peers! Just a couple of internet pics of the exhibition, as photography wasn't allowed. 

We then went on to see the Garden at the Getty, which is always wonderful. It was sad to see all the water features switched off and empty but entirely appropriate in the current drought. One wonders how long it will be before we can enjoy them again.  I have written about the garden before but it is lovely to see at any season. (Last year's visit) Its very horticultural and with its carefully planned color combinations, seems to my eye to be very much in the British style of planting, such as you would find at Wisley, Sissinghurst or Hidcote.

Inevitably many plants that I knew and some I couldn't identify at all. Its good to see unusual plants used amongst the familiar. Shrubs, trees, climbers, herbaceous, annuals, bulbs - they are all represented and beautifully grown.

Canna - probably 'Durban' (syn 'Tropicanna', 'Phasion') or could be the dwarf 'Pink Sunburst'

 Digitalis - one of the 'Illumination' series

Climber - name? (Update - Bauhinia corymbosa - thanks Max)

Curious - like an Achillea but shrubby? (Update - Athanasia acerosa - thanks Max)

Thunbergia battiscombei (Thanks max for the ID)

Echevaria agavoides - thanks for the name Mark and Gaz

Grevillea - species? (Update  - 'Peaches and Cream')

Just love these simple container mixes, prostrate rosemary, white alyssum and Erigeron karataviense

White Viscaria
Kangaroo paw - Anigozanthos 'Bush Gold' ?

Clivia miniata

Ordinary petunias but loved the deep red colour
A restio - Elegia tectorum?
The architecture is beautiful with lovely stonework including these panels with great leaf fossils.