In 1903 Henry Huntington purchased the San Marino Ranch, a working ranch with citrus groves, nut and fruit orchards, alfalfa crops, a small herd of cows, and poultry. Today, the estate is home to more than a dozen spectacular gardens spread across 120 acres.
One of the first things visitors notice when arriving at The Huntington is the stunning California Garden. Landscaped with nearly 50,000 California natives and dry-climate plants, covering an area of 6.5 acres, the garden reflects the local Mediterranean climate as well as both the agricultural and elegant estate history of the 207-acre Huntington grounds.
Reflecting the traditional style of scholar gardens in Suzhou, China, the Garden of Flowering Fragrance features a 1.5-acre lake, a complex of pavilions, a teahouse and tea shop, stone bridges and waterfalls set against a wooded backdrop of mature oaks and pines.
One of the largest outdoor collections of cacti and succulents in the world, the Desert Garden includes more than 5,000 species of desert plants in sixty landscaped beds.
The iconic Japanese Garden includes a drum bridge, Japanese house, walled Zen garden, expansive bonsai court, and a ceremonial teahouse and tea garden.
Conservatory and Children's Garden
The Conservatory for Botanical Science provides hands-on opportunities for children and families to explore botanical science .
The Children's Garden introduces youngsters to the wonders of the natural world through interactive sculptural elements.
The Rose Garden features more than 1,400 different cultivars, as does the Camellia Garden, which is considered one of the most comprehensive collections in the world.
And so much more...
The extensive grounds also include Australian, Herb, Jungle, Palm, and Subtropical gardens.
Henry Huntington's superintendent, William Hertrich, was instrumental in developing the various plant collections that comprise the foundation of the Botanical Gardens. Together, they molded the working ranch into a botanical collection of rare and exotic plants. They searched local nurseries and visited other plant collectors in the area to find mature and unique specimens. Mr. Huntington imported plants from many parts of the world to experiment with their cultivation in Southern California.
The Lily Ponds were developed first. They were heated at the time to maintain the giant-leafed Amazon water lily during the relatively cool Southern California winters. Huntington and Hertrich also worked together on the Palm, Desert, and Japanese gardens and planned the North Vista and the landscaping around the mansion.
Today, forty gardeners, a curatorial staff of seven, and more than 100 volunteers maintain the botanical collections, provide educational programs for visitors, and propagate plants that are often included in special sales.
The grounds also include the Huntington Ranch, a demonstration garden that holds workshops and classes focused on sustainable urban agriculture.
Did you know?
Mr. Huntington planted a few avocado seeds (a gift from the chef of Los Angeles’ Jonathan Club) that became a grove in what is now the main parking lot. These trees are considered the last surviving members of California’s first commercial avocado grove. The parking lot is now planted mostly with drought-tolerant trees, shrubs, and ground covers.