LA Arboretum Visit Part 1

We visited the LA Arboretum last week end.  Some of our visit was good, some of it was bad.  Bad:  my battery died the minute I took the first photo, and I forgot my spare.  Good:  Beloved had his tiny pocket camera, and kindly took some photos for me. 

White floss silk tree, Ceibia insignis:
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Bad:  the amount of Aloe Gall Mite infestation in the collection.  Dozens of plants were heavily damaged.  It made us cringe.  I wanted to immediately start cutting off all the deformed, infested flower stalks.  One effective way for the mites to spread their infestation is via innocent bees and hummingbirds:  the microscopic mites hitch a ride on a bird or insect visiting the flowers for their nectar, and the mites are transferred to healthy flowers.  I did not take photographs of the damage.  I probably should have, to document the severity of the problem.  But it was just too depressing.  Look at these magnificent specimens, all at risk.

The shortest, yes shortest Aloe in this group is about six feet tall (2 m).
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My A. marlothii is very similar in size to this one:
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A healthy Aloe not showing signs of infection yet), but the emerging blooms make it more vulnerable.  Interesting how the tip of the bloom stalk looks almost Protea-like.  
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Good: we practically had the place to ourselves.  At the Huntington or at Descanso, one must constantly dodge chattering groups and avoid being run over by aggressive stroller-wielding smart phone jabbering stylistas.  Last weekend, the Arboretum played host to four giggling sisters taking photos of a Buddhist monk who appeared to be their brother, a couple of quiet elders walking slowly in the distance, an artist with an easel in the grass, painting a picture of a tree, and us.   Peaceful, serene, exactly what a garden visit should be.    Was it the heat of the day, or had everyone gone off to the Huntington?  I don't know.   I can't imagine visitors were scared off by the Aloe Gall Mite problem, although they should have been. 


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Good:  every single tree seemed to be labeled.  Even the common ones, and even when there were a group of the same tree, there was always a label.  Highly satisfying after the Huntington, when there is often an incorrect sign, or no sign at all.  


The other Ceiba (formerly Chorisia),  the white one, C. insignis.  Love the chocolatey centers on a flower nearly the size of my hand.  The pink one, C. speciosa is far more common.
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The Hong Kong Orchid trees, Bauhinia x blakeana, were essentially finished blooming, but this pink Tabebuia heptaphyla was still quite a glory.
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The Arboretum has a certain quality of neglect in some areas.  "Lucky" Baldwin's Queen Anne entertaining cottage badly needs a new roof and other repairs.  The old Rancho adobe, where Baldwin actually lived, was last restored somewhat in the 1980s, and needs help again desperately.   The area around the lake needs maintenance, and the lake itself was muddy and black, like a cesspool.
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But other areas looked well maintained and neat.  A Xanthorrhoea, blooming completed, looking splendid with immature Agave vilamorianas (right bottom of photo) and some fine clumps of Agave attenuata on the left, with palms and bamboo behind.
 
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 This Agave 'Blue Glow' looked odd, like it was going to split into multiple rosettes.  I saw the same thing on one of the 'Blue Glow's at Rogers.  The leaves become more elongated and narrow than normal, and rosettes started to appear in odd places on the plant.  What's that all about?  It may be preparing to bloom with multiple bloom stalks(!).  I look forward to seeing what happens to it. 
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  We've been to the Arboretum a couple of times in the past few years for the All-City Cactus and Succulent Show, though we missed that show this year.  But after a show that overwhelming, we have always been too exhausted to visit the grounds themselves.  (Not to mention Arcadia in August is an oven.) We were missing some good things.  With the San Gabriel Mountains in the distance, it was beautiful.  And quiet.  Very quiet. 
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As it happened, the San Gabriel Valley Cactus and Succulent show was this past weekend, and we decided to go, so I'll do another post about the show and another excursion into the Arboretum.

Comments

  1. Beautiful vistas! I don't believe I've ever seen a post on the LA Arboretum, good to know about should I ever find myself there with extra garden viewing time.

    So what do you think is the story on the Aloe issues? Surely they recognize the problem? Just don't have the staff to deal with it?

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