About a month ago, I spent 8 days in Los Angeles, USA. Having lived in a small country town the last 10 years, the experience was amazing and slightly overwhelming. During my time there, I managed to visit a place called The Huntington. There is a library, art gallery and botanical gardens located here. It was a relaxing place to visit after the hustle and bustle of Disneyland.
There was a heatwave while we were in LA and the day we chose to visit the gardens was one of the hottest days – 105F, which is the equivalent of a 40 degree day. However the heat did keep a lot of people away from the gardens. I had been informed that usually the gardens are quite busy and crowded, so we felt like we had the gardens to ourselves. Well, ourselves and the squirrels – these cute little characters scampered up trees and across lawns, which was a real delight to my little one, Akasha.
Our first stop was going to be the children’s garden. On the way to this garden we passed through the Conservatory. There were some interesting plants here and some cool interactive displays. We enjoyed the smell test of spices found in a rainforest environment. I was a bit hesitant at first, but luckily they were all spices that I like – coffee, vanilla, cinnamon.
Housed in the conservatory was a Titan arum – the corpse flower that when it blooms looks amazing but smells like rotting flesh. We had just missed the blooming – it happened on the 24th August and we were there on the 14th September. However, it was still cool to see the Titan arum on display.
The children’s garden was designed to let kids interact with various sculptural elements. A colourful rainbow tunnel, water features and topiary animals were favourites with Akasha. I also thought the rainbow tunnel was cool as well with prisms of light creating a rainbow room in the centre of the tunnel. Seeing a bottlebrush in the garden reminded us of home.
A stop in the air-conditioned art gallery on the way to the Japanese garden provided a welcome relief from the heat. I had dunked my and Akasha’s hat in a water feature in the children’s garden to keep us cool, but it was so hot that they quickly dried out. I also enjoyed having a quick look at the American art on display – and it was a quick look, as Akasha was getting a bit restless (she is more of an outdoors type of girl).
A stroll on the trellised path to the Japanese garden lead us past the magnificent rose garden. The trellis had climbing roses and provided shade on the path. There are more than 3,000 plants here and although we didn’t linger here (due to the heat), I enjoyed what I saw.
Benches overlooking the Japanese garden were a great place to view the serene landscape of the garden. The elements of the Japanese garden (water, moon bridge, ceremonial teahouse) combined to create this serenity. There was also a Karesansui, which is a Dry Landscape garden, better known to me as a Zen garden. This was located at the top of the first part of the Japanese garden – I was completely ready to enjoy the zen in this garden after climbing many stairs to arrive.
There was so much to explore in this amazing place. However, due to the heat, we only enjoyed a small part. What we did get to experience was a great way to spend one of our days in LA. My family living in LA asked a few months before I arrived if there was any place I’d like to visit while I was there. – I had mentioned a botanical garden and was so appreciative that we got to check The Huntington out.
Now over to you – Have you visited any amazing overseas botanical gardens? We would love to hear about it – please share in the comments below.