Ξ May 31st, 2009 | → Comments Off | ∇ Highland Park |
Last week we took a short trip down York, straight on as it becomes Monterey and landed ourselves in the hidden gem that is the Huntington Library and Gardens. A mere 6 miles away from our bullet-ridden, gang-infested streets (if you’re to believe the portrayal of NBC’s Southland), the Huntington Library is over 200 acres of lush gardens and beautiful 19th century buildings full of art and exhibits.
We stopped in to see “Beautiful Science: Ideas that Changed the World” full of extremely old and rare, masterfully written and illustrated books on medicine, astronomy, biology and light and electricity. Among them were Galileo’s own copy of his book “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems” from the 1600s.
As awe inspiring as the collection is, the real reason for me to go to the Huntington is the gardens. According the brochure, there are 120 landscaped acres with over 14,000 varieties of plants. There is a desert garden full of cacti and many almost alien-like plants that thrive in hot, dry climates. On Saturdays you can visit the desert conservatory full of the strangest plants you’ll see. There are also jungle gardens, lily ponds (currently with a few baby ducklings swimming around), rose gardens, herb gardens and many others. The highlights, of course, are the Japanese and Chinese gardens.
The Japanese garden sits atop a hill surrounded by almost a fortress of bamboo and houses bonsai trees, a rock garden, pagodas and a stunning arched bridge. The Chinese garden is the newest addition to the Huntington, and certainly the most impressive. Designed to read like a scroll as you unroll it, the paths through the garden almost tell a story and reveal new vistas around every corner. Overlooking the small lake is a pagoda full of tables and chairs where you can stop and purchase tea and even some Chinese food. The jasmine iced tea was delicious and refreshing on a hot day, but the food smelled too much like Panda Express for me to even consider it. There is a disappointing irony to the Japanese and Chinese gardens in that they are meant to be the most peaceful and serene, but attract the most visitors and are thus full of people and the most crowded. Nevertheless, there were still many places to stop and enjoy the two gardens in all of their splendor.
Admission to the Huntington is $15 on weekdays and $20 on weekends and worth every penny for unbelievable, world-class botanical gardens just down the street. Go on a weekday if you can to skip the crowds and save a couple bucks. Also, bring a camera better than your iPhone–I wish I had…
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