The Huntington Botanical Gardens are not your ordinary walk in the park. Along with nearly 14,000 exotic plant species, it is also home to one of the oldest and largest desert plant collections in the world.
Spanning over 120 acres and featuring more than a dozen specialty gardens including a Palm Garden, a Shakespeare Garden, a Subtropical and Jungle Garden, the Huntington Botanical Gardens has something for everyone to enjoy for all seasons.
The lily pond was the first garden to be established in 1904 as a solution to an unsightly gully caused by the natural springs in the gardens. The pond now houses numerous shoreline, surface,and submerged water plants, as well as families of turtles and koi.
Another highlight of the expansive grounds is the Shakespeare garden. Stylized like an old English countryside, the garden includes poppies, pansies, violets, pinks, carnations, rosemary, daffodils, irises, roses, columbines, and marigolds. A small plaque next to each plant displays a corresponding verse in Shakespeare’s work.
It was founder, Henry Huntington’s interest in cacti and other succulents that truly contributed to the botanical collection over 100 years ago. Many of the plants in the Desert Garden are from Huntington’s trips around the world. His interest, it has been said, bordered obsession, such as one trip to Arizona in 1908, where he filled three entire railroad cars to take back to the garden. By constructing one of the most paramount collections of desert plants, Huntington brought a largely unknown and unappreciated group into the botanical spotlight. Now housing nearly 5,000 desert species, including 200 of the world’s 300 species of aloe, the Huntington Desert Garden is one of the world’s most encyclopedic collections.
The Huntington has also recently pioneered a new sustainable farming venture called the Huntington Ranch. Part outdoor classroom, part demonstration garden and part research lab, the ranch features vegetable gardens, orange and avocado groves, and dozens of other fruit trees to be used for hands-on agricultural education. Programs offered are children’s and adult gardening workshops, and symposia for sustainable agriculture professionals.