By Eilene Lyon
Sunday morning, I arrived at the Huntington to see the gardens and galleries. I thought I was there after opening, but it turned out I was fifteen minutes early, because I’d been looking at my computer clock (mountain time) instead of my phone.
As I waited for the ticket office to open, I chatted with a woman who was also a first-time visitor, though she’s a local. Her husband is from the north part of England. An older gentlemen (I think I can safely use that term – he has three great-grandchildren) named Jim, asked us if we would like guest passes and he would give us an hour and a half tour of some of the gardens. Given that the entrance fee is $29, we took him up on the offer.
He said his guests hadn’t been able to make it, and he clearly enjoyed playing tour guide. He walked us through the rose garden, the Japanese and Chinese gardens, bonsai court, lily ponds, and desert garden. True to his word, it took and hour and a half. Jim’s primary interests seemed to be how they piped the water from three wells through the various gardens to create waterfalls and ponds, and the stones they imported from China.
I spent the rest of the day enjoying the galleries, alternating with strolls through the gardens. A perfect plan for a sunny, warm day. The Huntington has several dining options. I opted for the Patio Grill where I had a fresh, delicious arugula salad with apple, avocado, and marinated, grilled chicken, washed down with hibiscus iced tea.
Additional gardens include an Australian garden, herb garden, children’s garden, as well as a conservatory to learn about botanical subjects. There is also a palm garden with hundreds of varieties.
There was plenty of lawn space for people to relax on, particularly in this statuary garden. The sculptures are genuine Italian pieces carved in limestone in the mid-18th century by at least two different artists.
I enjoyed picking out a few botanical details here and there, particularly in the desert garden.
This odd structure is a temporary installation by NASA. Inside you can hear real-time signals from satellites and then a “composition” from several satellites recorded previously. It does sound musical. An interesting interlude near the end of the day – or at least a shady place to park yourself for a bit.