Sunday, July 12, 2015

Re: Huntington Australian Garden

 Brachychiton acerifolius.  

A couple of bloggers from north of here, visiting the Huntington Australian Garden,  expressed disappointment.  Agreed.  The LA Arboretum Australian garden is better.  The San Diego Botanical Garden also has a well-developed collection with considerable variety of specimens--fabulous Banksias--probably even better than the Arboretum.

Brachychiton acerifolius grows big.  This one at the Huntington is about 50-60' tall (15-18 meters).  In their native habitat they can grow to a height of 130 feet (40 meters).
The seed pods are like canoes.
 The leaves are on the same scale as the tree.
The Huntington has Auracarias, Podocarpus, and Wollemi pines, besides Eucalyptus, Acacia, and Brachychitons.
 Big, big, big trees.  The area deemed Australian has been somewhat cleared and cleaned up over the past couple of years, with pathways now defined.  I think they got rid of many of the Eucalyptus globulous that were long time residents. Walking through the area about ten years ago, I remember scruffy Eucalyptus above, Eucalyptus litter below, and nothing else (and remember thinking...that's it?  Eucalyptus?)  Paths are an improvement.
 Lately, on several visits to the Huntington, we've carefully looked  over what is there (big trees! empty space!) and what is missing (most everything else).  
Some nice Anigozanthos, though:
On November 30, 2011, a powerful wind storm blew over or significantly damaged four hundred trees at the Huntington.  Since then, budget has gone into replacement of those trees.  The generous mulch added to the Rose Garden over the past few years were the ground up trees felled by that storm.  Where there are ninety foot trees and plentiful visitors, trees need to be sound and healthy.  There is work being performed on the area.  New plants are being added--slowly.  Much work remains to be done. 

New trees are now appearing in the Australian garden.  For example, a new trio of Stenocarpus sinuatus, just since our last visit a couple or three weeks ago.
Stenocarpus sinuatus
 Another Stenocarpus sinuatus, surrounded by Grevillea 'Moonlight'
 New cycads, recently added.  Australian or Mexican?  The Australian area is adjacent to the tropical Mexico area and they merge at their edges.
There are new Grevilleas and Hakeas as well.  
Grevillea 'Peaches and Cream'
Another happy healthy mass of Anigozanthos.  Is the trick to a happy Anigozanthos mass planting? 
Silver Acacia,  Acacia artemisioides.  Fabulous foliage...
 Think it reseeds at all? 
We'll watch how the Australian area advances over the next few years.  With the recent and increasing popularity of Australian plants in Southern California gardens, coupled with the latest California drought, the Huntington is playing catch-up.  There is vast empty space ready to fill.  I recently noticed plenty of Australian plants being propagated in the Huntington greenhouses--surely some of them are intended for the collection.  For now, the Australian garden lags behind others in Southern California, but the potential for a fabulous collection is there.  Will it happen?  We'll update.

18 comments:

  1. I think I was three times at the Huntington Botanical Garden, but always got stuck in the rose garden and the tea room ;-) and don't recall ever making it to the Australian Garden. In your photos the area looks great already, even though it could be filled up with some smaller plants in between the big trees, though. It might be nice to see some more Australian plants that are suited for our drought conditions in the future at the Huntington Garden, that would also fit in a regular small size California lot!
    I really like the Silver Acacia, the foliage is so beautiful.
    Hope you enjoy the rest of the Sunday!
    Christina

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    1. I get stuck in the rose garden all the time. How does that happen? So many fantastic Aussie plants--hopefully they put in some good ones.

      Watching the feeder mobbed by hummingbirds...and some gardening...what could be better? :^)

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  2. Given the Huntington's deep pockets, they have the potential to create something spectacular.

    The UC Santa Cruz Arboretum has a great collection of Australian shrubs (banksias, grevilleas) and some stunning eucalypts.

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    1. Would not take much budget to make it good--there is a HUGE amount of empty space ready to be filled--isn't that the dream of every gardener?

      Good tip on the UCSC collection--maybe I will get there to have a look someday. Wonder how it is holding up to the drought--they are really short of water up there.

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  3. You're right - Anigozanthos always seem to look more vigorous when massed. I guess I need to get some friends for mine.

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    1. By the size of the Huntington clumps, a hundred would do.

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  4. It'll be interesting to see how it shapes. Sounds like they are at least not short of planting material.

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    1. They have some good connections, too.

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  5. I enjoyed your perspective on the garden, I think it's the abundance of empty space that has left me feeling like this garden lacks. No doubt it will get better and better with each visit. Speaking of I still have a ton of photos I took last December to work through and post!

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    1. Hot weather, stuck indoors, good time to do it!

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  6. I'd love to see more of the Acacia artemisioides. Foliage fabulous, but those seed pods might ruin it. Need to see more!

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    1. I will have to get a better photo on my next visit.

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  7. A smaller-scale Australian plant that attracts me (hopeless for z6 eastern woodland) is Westringia (W. fruticosa and other species). Maybe that's too boring because already in wide use in southern California? But it's one of those that seems scaled for home gardens, attractive shaped or unshorn, and useful for low-moisture sites.

    The Huntington certainly has a great opportunity to build the Australian "understory" with all that space and its propagation resources. I put "understory" in quotes because I'm not sure that plants in dry climates organize themselves in the same ways as the densely layered moist ecosystem I know well. Starting with the biggest trees, which is the Huntington situation: in the wild, do they form a real canopy as they do here? Or are they (literal) "poles of development" around which smaller trees and shrubs fan out?

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    1. There's a nice Westringia in the 3rd-from-last photo (Anigozanthos), to the left of the Anigozanthos. It's a pretty shrub--you see them around. I killed one--my idea of low water needs was too low for it. The Euc forests I think vary from quite dense to quite open depending on rainfall and species.

      See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forests_of_Australia

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  8. I like that silver acacia. If you visit again in future, I look forward to seeing how this garden comes along.

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    1. I will be updating as new plants are added!

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  9. Looking much better than when I visited years ago. Kind of nice to have a developing garden to look forward to.

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    1. With so much new interest in Australian plants, there are many fascinating plants they could add--I hope they do!

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