A Memorable Day at the HBG

Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino (Pasadena), California.

With the Palo Verde in bloom among golden barrel cactus, I felt like I’d stumbled onto the gardens of the Lost City of Coronado.




Orange and gold. Forests of orange dyckias in bloom. Towering chartreuse plumes of Nolina interrata.


Reasons for making a visit this weekend: The Huntington’s new sustainable urban agriculture exhibit, The Ranch, was opening this weekend, only to be open to the public thereafter the fourth Saturday of every month. The exhibit “Three Fragments of a Lost Tale; Sculpture and Story,” by John Frame, was ending this month. The puyas were in bloom (more photos to come). What other reasons can one possibly need?

MB Maher was in town to finish a project and came along with his camera. These are all his photos and bear his watermark. We saw everything but The Ranch — which seems as mythical to me now as The Lost City of Coronado, (a New World city rumored to be built of gold somewhere in New Mexico, a fatally alluring myth to conquistadors who’d recently looted what the Inca had wrought in gold. Small plot point in third Indiana Jones movie.) When asked, no guide knew where it was. It was not indicated on the hand-out maps. I knew it was near the Children’s Garden, which I circled endlessly. At one point, I found a small sign at knee level lettered with “The Ranch” and an arrow which pointed towards an orange grove just beyond the Children’s Garden, a grove currently being irrigated. We wandered in said orange grove dodging sprinklers for quite a while, until frustration overtook us. MB Maher napped under a tree while I tried asking different docents, circled the Children’s Garden again, wandered off pathways past “No entry” signs, etc., until my feet could take no more. Irritating, yes, but some fourth Saturday of the month I will return and find The Lost Ranch of the Huntington. My niece graduated this weekend with a degree in sustainable agriculture, and I wanted to write her a letter with an account of what sounds like an exciting new addition.

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7 Responses to A Memorable Day at the HBG

  1. Pam/Digging says:

    Funny (if frustrating) story about the lost Ranch, but the gold is certainly not lost. Wowee! I love these images. Such great color.

  2. Well of course any visit to the Huntington is a good one, but what a frustrating experience! (great photos of course!)

  3. Les says:

    Perhaps they don’t want anyone to find the ranch and deliberately make it difficult. BTW, stunning photos.

  4. Kathy says:

    Please be sure to pass on to MB my admiration for these wonderful images. Sublime…

    How bizzare the Lost Ranch..sounds like they may have some internal communication problems. I wonder if there were other visitors searching in vain.

  5. Denise says:

    Thanks for the comments. I’ll pass the compliments on to MB. And I’m sure I’ll bump into the 15-acre Ranch someday!
    Kathy, I’ll admit I’m navigation-challenged, but the route “From the Teaching Greenhouse (next to the Children’s Garden), follow the signs along a paved path” — it just never materialized. I did find a lot of chains suspended between stanchions and “no entry” signs. I suspect that locked gate at the Teaching Greenhouse was meant to be unlocked…
    (Falling asleep last night, it occurred to me that I was looking for The Ranch after 1 p.m. Website says open 10:30 to 1 p.m. Which is why that gate was locked. Very narrow window of opportunity. Don’t know why I assumed that time frame would apply to subsequent 4th Saturdays, not this grand opening day. Must leave desert garden earlier next time.)

  6. laguna dirt says:

    jeepers! those photos are otherworldly! the delicate petals on the cacti–so dramatic. should be in a book!

  7. I wonder if the Huntington folks would notice if I took up residency there? I wish I could be there everyday!

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