Reflections on our visit to the Huntington Gardens

Above: Open lacework window, Chinese Gardens, Huntington Gardens, San Marino, California

 A guest post from Mr. Blogger:

My dearest and I had the fortune to be able to arrive at the Huntington Gardens right when they opened at 8 AM for members.  It was a glorious pleasant summer morning and as my dearest was taking pictures with her SLR, I wandered around looking for pictures to take for myself using my camera phone, an ASUS ZoomFone with actual 3x optical zoom, fun toy :-)

I like to take pictures of what strikes me as far as color, shape, light, shadow, hard lines versus soft lines. 

Above: A lovely Gardenerds bloggistaniana in habitat.

When walking through the Chinese Garden, it often reminds me of the expensive houses nearby that try hard to impress.  What I mean by this is the case where the structure of the garden often starts with the hardscape as focus then adds the plants around it in support of the structure.

Still in the morning light, the effect is such that you do get incredible mixtures of light, shadow, hard lines of circles and right angles.  This is then used to frame the water and living scenery which has the softer lines, with light not just reflecting, but also beautiful morning light passing translucently through light green leaves.

Paths take you around the garden where the emphasis is again on the paths, not what surrounds them.

Above: The lovely Gardenerds bloggistaniana, seen again on an angular bridge path.

However, when walking around and looking more carefully, one can find and perform their own "framing" with nature itself.   Using the earth, water and rocks below, branches and leaves to the side and above, I believe a more beautiful and more satisfying picture is created.

Now the forced right angles and circles are gone and you eyes can focus on the true glory of what is light reflecting off of the earth, water and flora reaching your eyes and being processed by our brains to give one a true feeling of calm and piece. 

 Above: Water Lilies and Lotus, morning light mixture of bright light and shade.  Framing by the plants themselves, not by man made structures.

Above: Green light piercing through leaves hanging over the water.

Above: Water Lily leaves creating their own shadows and reflecting with their glossy leaves, everything from dark green, to bright light.

I believe the best parts of the Chinese gardens are those where the plants are intentionally planted closer and as a contrast to man made structures.  In addition, breaking up the hard lines of many of the structures in the garden adding graceful curves as in the picture below. Now the structure (or at least this part of it) is now in harmony with nature.

After leaving the Chinese gardens, we walked down the path through glorious California Live Oaks and into the Japanese Garden.

While both of Asian heritage and inspiration, now in the Japanese garden, nature is the star.  Nature is still shaped and controlled by men and women, but the structures are now softer curves and spaced further apart.  Nature (controlled though it may be) is is the star.

And in the morning light, nature is the star.

I've always felt a greater sense of peace and harmony in the Japanese garden when compared to the Chinese garden.  Much like the sense of peace being in my Beloved's garden which screams "what a beautiful garden I am" versus the big fancy houses that scream "look at how expensive a house I am and I guess I'd better have a huge green lawn because other expensive houses have them".

We saw a lot more that day, but my closing picture for this post is one from one of the oldest gardens at the Huntington, the original water gardens below the main house.

Above: The lovely Gardenerds bloggistaniana, in a piece of Eden?

In this final picture, now the only structure is the man made pond, the man made statue and the man made path.  Most of which are made to be made to look natural, curving the path, simulating a natural pond, keeping the statue small and simple.

Now to me, this isn't just good looking, it is gorgeous with the morning light shining on the scene more beautifully than could be done by the best lighting designer.  

Of course, the plants are still chosen, and planted, placed and nurtured by mankind, but those gardeners (he and she) just set the scene, say "action" and then step aside and let nature do the lighting with beautiful and dramatic morning light reflecting off of earth, water and flora.

The last "reflection" for this post is my personal reflection of how lucky I am to be with my beautiful Gardenerds bloggistaniana.  Also just how kind she is to allow me to try and guest write on her blog.

Hope you like my post :-)


Mr. Blogger

P.S. And now for something completely different, here is a link to my YouTube Channel akb168


  1. Agreed. And one of the best things about Gail's Garden is that it is a garden garden, not a Chinese Garden, not s desert garden ... It is a pretty garden reflecting personal taste, not current trends. It is a most delightful use of space.

    1. The other great thing about her Garden is that you can feel her passion in what she does and the plants are the star. What she does to put plants together in as far shape, color and type. It is a real pleasure for me to come home to that after a hard day's work.

  2. Your eye for an image is every bit the equal of Mrs. Boo's!

    1. We were both into photography before we ever met. I started with box cameras when I was six and 35mm back when I was nine. As far as plant composition based photography, she is much better than I am.

  3. The Chinese garden put me off when it was first opened but, as the plants matured, I came to appreciate it much more; however, as you indicated, the structures and stonework still seem of greater importance to the overall scheme than the plants. Your photos are beautifully framed and I think it's wonderful that you actively support your spouse's interests. I'm afraid my own beloved spouse, while always willing to help me out with projects and heavy lifting, isn't at all entranced with plants.

    1. Agreed that the garden is much better now that many of the plants have matured and it is still an impressive garden. I guess I've always preferred natural beauty of forests and nature itself so that I am more attracted to that style of gardening.

      As far as being supportive, I get such joy in her work that I'm more than happy to support her passion. Gardening when done right is as much an art form as painting and sculpture. A good garden such as hers, just gets better over time.

  4. Jane, I totally agree. The gardens I most enjoy visiting have personality and reflect the owner's vision. Too often, public gardens embody a commercial esthetic and to me, can be overworked and impersonal.

    1. How true. At the Huntington, you really can see and appreciate the difference between the original areas originally designed by William Hertrich versus newer gardens such as the Chinese garden. He was lucky enough to be given pretty much complete authority to implementing his vision and it shows. Places such as the original water garden are so nice in their simplicity and their emphasis on the plants and how well they look against the water.

  5. I enjoyed your guest post, especially since you obviously enjoy the plants, and have great taste in spouses. Come back again some time!

    1. I had a lot of fun writing this post. As far as taste in spouses goes, it was an easy and rewarding pick for me.

  6. Lots of artistic expression and laughter in your household.

    1. We've always both been interested in the arts. I've always been better at computers than I was ever as an artist, but I've always enjoyed doing art more. Gail's gardening and my music helps keep us sane (and happy).

  7. a great pleasure to read. the photo of water lilies and lotus: stunning.

  8. Thanks for the kind words. This was my first public blog post and my dearest was kind to let me give it a try on her blog.


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