Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Secret Garden

Los Angeles is a sprawling city full of contradictions. It overflows into suburb after suburb, making it the giant that it is. From the glitz and glamor of the Hollywood and Beverly Hills elite to the harsh and thought provoking neighborhoods of Watts and East L.A., the city shows its diversity of cultures. With its massive circumference, it seems that there are few real refuges to en light and stimulate the mind. But, as I found out this weekend, there is a star of hope hidden away in the little suburban town of San Marino called the Huntington Library, Museum, and Gardens.

This magnificent place was founded in 1919 by Henry Huntington, a railroad and utilities mogul of the early 2oth century. He was a Renaissance man of sorts who had a passion for rare books, art, and gardens. On my visit I was able to see books written by Copernicus, Sir Isac Newton, Shakespeare, and Chaucer. The Art included Gainsborough's "Blue Boy"and Lawrence's "Pinkie", both famous portraits that are shown in art history classes around the world.

The gardens were my favorite. When Huntington bought the property it spanned over 600 acres, but today it is around 207. The herb garden was broken up into segments of medicinal and cooking herbs. From lambs ear and fox glove, to nasturtiums and chamomile. All were fun to look at.

The Japanese gardens were tranquil and alluring. After descending down a steep hill, we were greeted by the soft flow of water, flowering trees, and beautiful garden architecture.

There were more varieties of magnolias than I ever knew existed. Many types of flowering cherry blossoms, and a flower that I had only heard of and not seen. The Camilla. There were pink, red, blush, and white flowers along the pathways.

Spending three hours at the Huntington Estate was not nearly enough time to explore everything. We only saw a quarter of the garden. We missed the bonsai gardens, the children's garden, the jungle, the desert garden, and much, much more. I will plan more time to go back the next time I am in Los Angeles.

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