More on the Pasadena gardens on the Garden Conservancy Open Days, April 25, 2010.
This was my first tour of Pasadena gardens. I knew the gardens would be large, stately, formal. What I wasn’t prepared for was their scale. The six we saw were truly estate gardens in every sense of the word. Seeing the vernacular elements of garden design on this massive scale can be disorienting; coming home later to my little garden, it felt like I was looking at it through the wrong end of a telescope. It took a couple days before the fun-house mirror effect wore off and my garden looked normal again and not so…well, so squished.
Sally and Harlan Bixby Garden. Spanish Revival architecture, 1922. One-acre garden redesigned in 1990’s by Owen Peterson/Bob Erickson.
Immediately I sensed a languor to human movement through such large spaces. You slow down, amble, drift along.
To admire intimate details of inlaid tiles adorning doorways and arches.
And a juggernaut of Euphorbia ammak jutting up well past the roof. The Huntington curated this desert garden, accessed through a side gate off the main pool/pergola area.
The wisteria on the pergolas had already bloomed, but more scented plants were arrayed in large pots around the pool, including brugmansias, roses, and plumeria. I sat down on the pool’s retaining wall covered in Delft tiles to take in the opposite matching pergolas and the flight of steps flanked in enormous Aloe plicatus leading up to the house.
Pleasure grounds in every sense, sybaritic, Gatsby-esque.
All photos by MB Maher.