The Huntington is incredibly large and sits on 207 acres of land in San Marino, California. It’s impossible to go through everything adequately enough in just one day. I was there for two and I feel like I still barely scratched the surface. In addition to its library, the Huntington also includes botanical gardens and several art collections. I’ve already written about going to see the corpse flower both before and after bloom, but I still wanted to write about what else I did that weekend. To prevent this post from being completely cluttered with information, I’m going to start with a small glimpse of the botanical gardens and save talk about the library and the art collections for later. For now, let’s return to the Huntington’s conservatory.
The conservatory was where the corpse flower was held during its exhibition, but it also has a lot of other plants separated based on ecosystems that you can learn more about. The main room has a rainforest theme where you can descend down the center to be immersed by various rainforest plants. To the left of the main entrance is a room that replicates a cloud forest, complete with fog. If you continue through that room, there is a bog environment where you can check out some of the carnivorous plants such as pitchers, venus fly traps, victreebels, and piranha plants. All these rooms had some kind of interactive element to it, whether it was trying to figure out certain scents from plants (ex: coffee, chocolate, vanilla), guessing what insects some orchids take their shape after, or looking through microscopes and magnifying glasses to see flowers and leaves up close.
To the right of the conservatory’s main entrance is the lab, where you are surrounded by interactive exhibits to help you learn more about flowers, seeds, roots, and more. It reminds me of the California Science Center a little and is a great place to take kids to engage them more in learning about plants. There are things to see, things to touch, and things to smell throughout the lab so it’s fun for amateur botanists of all ages.
Outside, there are several different botanical habitats to explore and get lost in. Seriously, on my first day at the Huntington, I got lost trying to get from the cactus garden to the Australian plants. The cactus garden is a huge expanse of, well, cacti that came in all shapes and sizes. Nearby was the lily ponds which also featured koi and a bunch of bamboo plants. From there, I don’t know what happened. I felt like I was walking around forever in the heat and I couldn’t see anyone. I was still on a paved road, but I couldn’t really figure out where I was on the map (the maps itself tells you that it doesn’t show all the paths and isn’t to scale). I eventually wound up at the rose garden, not really sure how I got there. I told you this place is huge!
On the second day that I went to the Huntington, I went with my family and my mom wanted to see the Chinese garden. There are two Chinese lion sculptures guarding the entrance and welcoming visitors to the site which is actually still expanding. There, you could walk around a lake through different buildings replicating Chinese architecture. There are bridges, waterfalls, and fish swimming around. There’s also a tea shop where you can stop to have lunch. Everything is just so serene there and I guess that’s how it is supposed to be.
We went to the Japanese garden afterwards and one of the main attractions there is a model of a Japanese house, which you can look into. Again, there are bridges, waterfalls, and fish. This time though, there was a rock garden and a bunch of bonsai trees of different…breeds. I’m not even sure if that’s the correct term, but let’s go with it. Again, it’s calm and serene and another good place to relax. Man, if I lived closer I would totally get a membership just so I could go and read or study in one of the gardens.
There’s one more thing that I wanted to cover in this post that doesn’t quite fit anywhere else and that’s the mausoleum. Wow, things just went a little dark all of a sudden, huh? Yes, tucked away in the Huntington grounds is the mausoleum that houses the body of Henry E. Huntington himself. It is a little a spooky walking around the monument, but it definitely is grand and seems fitting for the man Huntington seemed to be. There was marble errthang (Colorado Yule marble, to be exact) and the structure was modeled after Greek temples. If this also seems kind of familiar, it may be because the architect who Huntington chose to design the mausoleum, John Russell Pope, also designed the Jefferson Memorial in Washington DC.
This is where the posts ends, but there are still a bunch of gardens that I didn’t even cover including the Australian garden, the herb garden, the rose garden, the jungle garden, the Shakespeare garden, and oh my goodness, this list is still going on. Maybe I’ll make another trip sometime soon and take advantage of the free days. The next post about the library and art collections is coming soon!