New Huntington Entrance Garden

The Huntington recently opened their new entrance buildings and garden after more than a year of construction.  It seems well laid out and more spacious.  There is more seating area for resting or gathering before and after visits, and a new cafe and coffee bar.  

The old entrance building had an auditorium; there's now a new one with a conservatory-roofed area adjacent.  All the new plantings are climate-appropriate, I guess you could say--an expanse of lawn replaced by bunch grasses; Buxus and Euonymous by Myrtus, Jacaranda by Oak and Acacia. 
That Aloe certainly deserves to be a focal point:
 Although there are more buildings now, the views are more open;  at the end of the entrance complex is a rill with axial view of one of the beautiful old Aloe barberae specimens.  Looking back at the base of the rill is a view of the San Gabriel mountains that loom over this part of the Los Angeles basin. 
 There is now more direct access to the Desert Garden, and there are two other points of entry to the gardens, one towards the Conservatory.  The area plantings here are not yet completed.
The other point of entry, towards the Library building, the Huntington mansion, and the Shakespeare Garden, on the extreme left.  Clumping grasses replaced what was a lawn:
There is an area for dropping off/picking up handicapped visitors--at least that is what I think it is, beyond this gap between buildings:
 Nice visual zig-zag created by the walkways there.
 The former Huntington entrance greeted visitors with Jacaranda trees, turf lawns, and roses, the new, like the arrival of a new century of water constraints--everything is xeric, some is native to California.





 Common Myrtle makes a better clipped hedge for Southern California than Boxwood.  It remains a deeper green in summer heat and requires little water.  It's there at the bottom of the photo:

 Chondropetalum elephantium, I think:
With everything so new, a few things need adjustment--it appeared that only after the fact did the Huntington realize that people would try and walk across the rill.  It looked like someone hurridly ran out to a dollar store for some little wire fences.
It won't be the first miscalculation a landscape architect has ever made about where people are going to walk, is it?  Guys, take the whole price tag off, please.
 Things happen. 

 The pathway down to the Desert Garden, formerly a stairway, is now a gently sloping path flanked by an array of Agaves.  
A little hurried on the install?  
 Biggest 'Snow Glow' I've ever seen, near bloom-size:
 Biggest Agave pumila I've ever seen--had to be at least 20" in diameter:
 Agave 'Sawtooth':
 This area adjacent to the new auditorium/lecture hall is covered by a transparent conservatory roof and ringed with tropical plants.


 The roof cast interesting shadows.

 It's a new era.  Everything is changing, not just the Huntington.
 It's not just our current drought.  The pressures of an exploding human population and climate change are becoming apparent in regions where resources like water are scarce.  In Syria and Yemen, water scarcity and population growth have contributed to civil war. 
 Here, so far, the change amounts to planting different stuff. We're fortunate--so far. 
 The past, the future:

Comments

  1. I share your concerns about the future. The changes are becoming ever more apparent, and speeding up. The world we will leave for future generations could be very different indeed.

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    1. I read a horrifying statistic recently--40% of the earth's land is now used for human food production--40%! And several billion more of us on the way.

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  2. It shows the scale of the gardens when you can do such a cool post on just the new entrance area? That tree aloe at the top of the path is spectacular. It is one thing that even in our green house botanic gardens we don't have any of.

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    1. Yes, it's a huge space--the area is six acres, I think that converts to 24,281 square meters/2.42811 hectares. With the plantings so new, most trees so small, the sense of open space and view of the blue-black mountains was an added delight.

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  3. I love rills. Pro tip to landscape architects: If you don't want people to walk across yr rills, don't make level cement/stone paths leading across them.

    It takes a mighty, mighty plant to compete as focal point with the mountains (in the other direction down the rill) -- but that tree aloe pulls it off. Both views are magnificent. Thanks so much for taking us there!

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    1. Happy you enjoyed the "visit". I love rills too--wish I had a place for one.

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    2. we wanted people to walk across our rills - the huntington did not :)

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    3. Hello, John! Thank you for the comment and for visiting my blog.

      I was told that the intent was indeed that people would be allowed to walk across the rill. However, visitors immediately began using the rill as a wading pool for their small, diapered children, creating a potential health hazard of a serious nature, since the diapers were not always clean. So the barriers went up. :(

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    4. Indeed. Visitors were dunking their children like a baptism. People were also trying to take strollers across the paths over the rills. So yes, barriers for several reasons. It's unfortunate, since I would have loved to walk on those paths.

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    5. I'm always tempted to walk across when we visit, because it is so lovely. Sigh!

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  4. When I was there in December it was a construction site with ugly fences. This looks much better although I must admit I was taken aback by the marigolds. They seem completely out of place to me. Why not arctotis, osteospermums, etc.?

    But kudos to them for replacing thirsty lawns. It's important that institutions, esp. those with high visibility, lead by example.

    Some fantastic agave specimens!

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    1. I got a kick out of the marigolds. I laughed when I saw them--obviously stuck in for quick color. Lead by example, exactly. Many people are willing to get rid of the lawn, they just don't know what to replace it with. There will be a learning curve for a while longer.

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  5. Wow, things have changed since I was last there. I'm going to try to get out there before the weather gets too hot. I'm glad the Huntington has moved on losing lawn and introducing more waterwise plants - it can only help shift local opinions about what's appropriate in terms of landscaping. I read (somewhere) than Descanso has also introduced a new waterwise demonstration garden.

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    1. It takes them time to make changes, but they do make them. The relatively new Chinese garden is fabulous now that the plants are maturing, and a whole new area of the Japanese garden behind the house also looks wonderful.

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  6. The last time I was at the Huntington was in the 80's, and we went to look at the roses. I am glad to see they have embraced the zone---and glad you visited on a day when you could actually see the San Gabriels. It was a rare sight back when I was an LA girl.

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    1. You can see the San Gabriels now a lot of the time, even in summer! The Clean Air Act and the EPA and the SCAQMD and California's stricter rules for auto emissions worked.

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  7. Thanks for covering this, when I was there last (just before Christmas) the construction mess made it hard to anticipate what changes were occurring. Looking at your first few photos I assumed the perpendicular patterns across the rill were walkways, crazy to think that's not what they designed them to be. I'm also not particularly enamored with the green pots sitting in the middle of the squares around the rill.

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    1. There in person, to me the green pots prevented the whole thing from looking too flat. When the Restios in them have grown big, I think they will look more dramatic. Russelia might have been cool...with hummingbirds fighting over them...

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  8. Glad to see So Cal start making moves to dryness there, which has always been, with or without drought. And at the Huntington in a big way...the renovated and entry areas you show are stunning, not a little gesture or baby step. I bet that will help turn people on to attractive conservation in the garden.

    The view to the mountains...if it were only always so clear!

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    1. It is much clearer these days than you'd expect! :^)

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  9. Thank you so much for this post. The Huntington is one of my favorite places and I haven't been for several years since I live in Vegas. Thank you--this is beautiful.

    It's interesting that they chose to put in a water feature. When we went the to Getty Villa last summer, the water feature was turned off because of the drought, even thought they have all xeriscaping.

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    1. It's a pretty small amount of water--and the Huntington has their own well, so they have no state-mandated restrictions.

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