The Getty Center Garden: Desert Collection

Aloe barbarae with Sencio mandraliscae

The main garden at the Getty cascades down the slope below the buildings and ends in a bowl with a pool at its center.  The other garden gem of the place, besides the native oaks on the hillsides, are two smaller areas planted with succulents and cacti at the southeast end of the museum complex.  One area is a terrace below a lookout, aside a wall and walkway.   The other forms the end of a promontory, the last bit of the place before it ends in sky and views of the great sprawl of Los Angeles beyond.

Desert Promontory

The terrace succulents are restricted to a trio:  Aloe barberae, Euphorbia ammak (I think), and Senecio mandraliscae with a mulch of red stone.   The Aloes and Euphorbia create a grove casting wonderful shadows.

Euphorbia shadows

Aloe barbarae and Euphorbia

Aloe shadows

The promontory garden contains a sea of golden barrel cactus, Agave americana planted too close together, a tall cactus or Euphorb I couldn't identify, Opuntia, Sedum spathulifolium, and more Senecio mandraliscae.  This area is a bit weedy and the stony mulch needs refreshing.  The Getty has probably reduced maintenance due to recent budget cuts.

The Agaves are planted too close together, so they trimmed off the bottom leaves, which naturally twist and sprawl like a Rodin nude, and from a plant's perspective, perhaps also shade the root system.  Was the designer's intent a purely upright shape?  If so, why not plant something purely upright?  To me, trimmed Agaves are mutilated Agaves.  

Golden barrel cacti
Desert Promontory

The Agaves are beginning to bloom, meaning they are also beginning to die.  A group of new ones have been recently planted, also too close together.  More mutilation to come.   However, I don't wish to end on a negative--it's still gorgeous, just not perfectly, satisfyingly so.


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