General Press Kit
About The Huntington
The world-renowned Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is a collections-based research and educational center serving scholars and the general public. Surrounded by 120 acres of breathtaking grounds highlighting diverse botanical collections are two art galleries and a library showcasing magnificent collections of rare books and manuscripts, European art from the 15th to the early 20th century, and American art from the late 17th to the mid 20th century. There is also a large gallery for special temporary exhibitions that interpret the collections. Each year, more than 750,000 visitors from around the world enjoy The Huntington, and more than 1,700 researchers conduct scholarly studies among the vast collections.
The Huntington was founded by railroad and real estate magnate Henry Edwards Huntington in 1919. The museum and gardens opened to the public in 1928. The private, nonprofit institution is supported by gifts from individuals, corporations, foundations, and government agencies, and by a private endowment that provides about 40 percent of the institution's annual operating budget.
At the heart of The Huntington is the Library, which contains nearly 9 million manuscripts, books, photographs and other works in the fields of American and British history, literature, art, and the history of science, medicine, and technology. Among the highlights of the collection are the Ellesmere manuscript of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales (ca. 1410); a Gutenberg Bible (ca. 1450–55); a world-class collection of early editions of Shakespeare; original letters of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Abraham Lincoln; an unsurpassed collection of materials relating to the history of the American West; and outstanding holdings in the history of science and technology.
The Huntington Art Gallery is housed in the original Beaux Arts mansion built for Henry and Arabella Huntington in 1911. The former residence is home to a world-famous collection of British paintings, notably Thomas Gainsborough's The Blue Boy, Thomas Lawrence's Pinkie, Joshua Reynolds' Sarah Siddons as the Tragic Muse, and works by John Constable, J. M. W. Turner, George Romney, and Anthony Van Dyck. In addition, it showcases a fine collection of French decorative arts and Renaissance paintings, including Rogier van der Weyden's 15th-century masterpiece Virgin and Child, considered by many to be the most important painting at The Huntington. In total, the European art collections include about 420 paintings, approximately 370 works of sculpture, more than 2,500 decorative art objects, and 20,000 prints and drawings.
Just a short walk across the Shakespeare Garden are the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art, where American paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts, including works by Mary Cassatt, John Singer Sargent, Frederic Remington, Gilbert Stuart, Edward Hopper, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Andy Warhol are on display. The American art holdings now number about 245 paintings, 60 works of sculpture, 990 decorative art objects, 8,500 prints and drawings, and about 1,800 photographs.
Smaller, focused exhibitions are presented in the Susan and Stephen Chandler Wing of the Scott Galleries and in the Works on Paper Room of the Huntington Art Gallery. Major changing exhibitions are presented in the MaryLou and George Boone Gallery, a historic building (originally Henry and Arabella Huntington's elegant garage, built in 1911) that was renovated as an exhibition space in 1999.
The Botanical Gardens contain more than 15,000 different kinds of plants in more than a dozen principal garden areas, including the Japanese, Rose, Shakespeare, Camellia, Jungle, Palm, and Australian gardens. The newest of these is the Garden of Flowing Fragrance, Liu Fang Yuan, The Huntington's Chinese arden, the first phase of which opened in February 2008. It features a lake, bridges, pavilions, and a teahouse, all built with exquisite craftsmanship by artisans from China. The spectacular 10-acre Desert Garden includes nearly 4,000 species of desert plants in a variety of unusual shapes, forms, and colors that are a delight to visitors year round. The beautiful North Vista, framing a view of the San Gabriel Mountains, is flanked by 18th-century statuary and several acres of camellias. In the 100-year-old Japanese Garden, a 19th-century style Japanese house overlooks a moon bridge spanning a large koi pond. A new ceremonial teahouse is located on a ridge with an expansive view of the historic landscape, part of a major 2012 renovation of the garden.
Botanical education has become central to The Huntington's mission; The Rose Hills Foundation Conservatory for Botanical Science, opened in fall 2005, engages middle-school students and their families in inquiry-based learning about plants, ecosystems, and biodiversity. Adjacent to the Conservatory is the Helen and Peter Bing Children's Garden, which introduces youngsters to the wonders of the natural world in a playful one-acre garden with interactive elements based on the themes of earth, air, light, and water.
The collections form the basis for advanced humanities research, and each year The Huntington awards approximately $1.5 million to scholars through a competitive, peer-review process, providing them with an opportunity to study here. The collections also provide a multitude of educational opportunities through school programs, teacher education, and special events for children and families.
Henry Edwards Huntington was born in 1850 in Oneonta, N.Y. At the age of 21 he joined the railroad enterprises of his uncle, Collis P. Huntington, in an association that was to shape the course of his life. His first job in the railroad business was managing a sawmill near St. Albans, W.Va., which supplied cross-ties and bridges for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad.
In 1873 Henry married Mary Alice Prentice, and the couple settled into a small home in St. Albans. Their only son, Howard, was born in 1876, followed by daughters Clara Leonora in 1878, Elizabeth in 1880, and Marian Prentice in 1883.
In 1892, Huntington moved his family to San Francisco, where he shared with his uncle the management of the Southern Pacific Co., a holding company for the Southern Pacific and Central Pacific railroads. (He would eventually attain the post of vice president.) In the spring of that year, he visited Southern California and was entertained at the ranch of James de Barth Shorb and his wife Maria, daughter of Benjamin D. (“Don Benito”) Wilson, the great landowner and first mayor of Los Angeles. The Shorb ranch was named San Marino in memory of Shorb’s boyhood home in Maryland; his grandfather, it is said, had named his home after the tiny republic in Italy, which had the same acreage as the Maryland property.
Henry Huntington was very impressed with the Shorb ranch and the beauty of the San Gabriel Valley. He was also intrigued by the business possibilities offered by Southern California. The impression stayed in his mind. Several years after Huntington’s visit, Shorb died and the bank foreclosed on the mortgage of the ranch. In 1902, Huntington moved to Los Angeles, and in 1903 he purchased the property. His family remained behind in San Francisco, and his first marriage ended in divorce a few years later.
Huntington’s new neighbor to the west on the Lake Vineyard Ranch was George S. Patton Sr., another son-in-law of Don Benito Wilson and father of the famous World War II general.
Huntington had great faith in the potential of Southern California to become a major commercial and cultural center, and he began immediately to put his plans into effect to develop the area. His endeavors included consolidating and extending the city’s numerous electric street railway lines into two companies, which rapidly expanded throughout the region. The Los Angeles Railway operated within the city limits, while the Pacific Electric Railway’s “Red Cars” provided efficient transportation in both urban and rural areas throughout greater Los Angeles. Much of the subsequent growth of the city and surrounding counties can be attributed to the creation of this interurban railway, which eventually stretched from Newport Beach to San Fernando, and from the Pacific Ocean to Redlands.
Meanwhile, Huntington was also actively engaged in developing land and providing utilities for the expanding population of Southern California. He organized a series of private companies to provide electricity, gas, and water at a time before municipalities were doing so. At one time, he controlled a total of 23 companies in Southern California, including a number of gas and electric companies such as the Pacific Light and Power Co. and Alhambra Water Co.
In 1910, at the age of 60, Huntington sold much of his interest in the Pacific Electric Co. and began to devote most of his time and attention to books—his lifelong passion—and to the growing collection that formed the nucleus of one of the greatest research libraries in the world. In the beginning the books were kept in New York; but as soon as the library building was completed on the property in 1921, railroad cars full of books began to arrive in San Marino, where they were to be permanently housed.
While his book collection was growing, Huntington was also developing an interest in art, influenced in large part by Arabella Huntington, widow of his uncle Collis. Arabella was one of the wealthiest women in America and one of the most important art collectors of her generation. Henry and Arabella eventually married in 1913, when they were both in their early 60s, and together they amassed a world-class collection of British and French art.
The Huntington residence, which now is home to the European art collection, was complete in 1911 by the Pasadena architecture firm Hunt and Grey. This handsome Beaux-Arts mansion, overlooking the San Gabriel Valley, was first occupied by the Huntingtons in 1914. Meanwhile, the San Marino Ranch was being transformed from a working ranch with commercial crops of citrus, peaches, nuts, grain, and avocados to a grand estate that showcased a growing collection of diverse botanical specimens. A young landscape gardener named William Hertrich was responsible for creating many of the gardens that still exist today, beginning with the Lily Ponds, the Palm Garden, and the Desert Garden, and followed shortly afterward by the North Vista, the Rose Garden, and the Japanese Garden.
Henry Huntington made careful plans for the use of his collections after his death. In 1919 he and Arabella signed a deed of trust transferring their San Marino property and collections to a nonprofit trust and establishing a research institution to serve scholars. The five original trustees were George S. Patton Sr.; astronomer George Ellery Hale; Henry’s son, Howard E. Huntington; Arabella’s son, Archer M. Huntington; and attorney William E. Dunn.
Arabella Huntington died in New York on Sept. 14, 1924, and Henry died nearly three years later—on May 23, 1927. Both are interred at The Huntington in the mausoleum designed by John Russell Pope, who later designed the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. The institution opened to the public in 1928.
The Huntington Library is one of the largest and most complete independent research libraries in the United States in its fields of specialization. Only a tiny portion of its collection, composed of approximately 9 million items, is on display at any one time in the Main Exhibition Hall and the Dibner Hall of the History of Science. To provide visitors with more access to its holdings, the institution regularly hosts changing exhibitions in the West Hall of the Library and in the MaryLou and George Boone Gallery. Some 1,400 scholars come from around the world every year to conduct advanced humanities research using The Huntington’s collections. Through a rigorous peer-review program, The Huntington awards more than 100 grants annually to scholars in the fields of history, literature, art, and the history of science.
The Huntington’s holdings include English and American history and literature from the 11th century to the present, European medieval manuscripts, Renaissance exploration and cartography, Latin American history, and the history of science and technology. Particular strengths include Middle English literature, English politics and law in the early modern era, the English aristocracy from the later Middle Ages through the 18th century, American colonial history, 18th-century British and American military history, the American Revolution, the Civil War, and the exploration and development of the American West. English and American literary collections from the Renaissance to the present day are especially strong in material relating to 18th-century Britain, Victorian literature and the pre-Raphaelites, American literature in the second half of the 19th century, and theater and drama covering some 500 years.
A selection of the most famous and interesting items from the collections is on public display in the Library’s Main Exhibition Hall.
The collection includes printed books from the 15th through the 20th centuries. The collection also houses maps, broadsides, pamphlets, newspapers, and many other printed formats. The approximately 410,000 items are concentrated in the field of British and American culture, with many topics and periods covered in extraordinary depth.
The Huntington copy of Johann Gutenberg’s Bible is one of 11 surviving copies printed on vellum, and one of three such copies in the United States. It was the first substantial book printed with movable type in the West. Printed in about 1450 in Mainz, Germany, the Bible is in Latin, in the standard medieval Catholic version known as the Vulgate.
The Huntington has the second-largest collection of incunabula in the United States, after the Library of Congress. The term designates books printed before 1501 during the infancy, or “in the cradle,” of the new technology of the printing press.
One of the Library’s most prized works is the first folio edition of William Shakespeare’s collected plays, published in 1623, seven years after his death. The “First Folio” contains 36 plays, 18 of them printed for the first time. This “authorized version,” prepared by his friends and colleagues from “true originall copies,” is the prime source of our knowledge of Shakespeare’s texts.
The Huntington Library houses more than 850,000 prints and negatives spanning the century from 1850 to 1950. This superlative collection, which covers a variety of topics from the American Civil War to the building of the transcontinental railroad, from “Grand Tours” of Europe to modest family photograph albums, is particularly strong in depicting the history and development of the American West. Within this broad regional focus are photographs generated by the great surveys of the American West conducted in the 19th century, commissioned by both railroad corporations and the federal government.
The Huntington traditionally has collected the work of noted photographers, most of whom were active professionally at the end of the 19th century and into the beginning of the 20th. The collection contains significant bodies of work by Carleton Watkins, Carl Moon, Frederick Monsen, Edward Curtis, Alfred A. Hart, F. Jay Haynes, William Henry Jackson, Adam Clark Vroman, Andrew Russell, Eadweard Muybridge, C. C. Pierce, Frances Benjamin Johnston, and others.
In recent years The Huntington has acquired the collections of several commercial photographers whose work documents various phases in the history of Southern California and elsewhere. These include the J. Allen Hawkins collection of Pasadena (1910–60), the “Dick” Whittington collection of the development of Southern California in the postwar boom years, the B. D. Jackson collection depicting the developing suburbs of Los Angeles, and the Maynard Parker collection documenting the modern home and garden in mid-20th-century Southern California.
The historical print collection at The Huntington consists of more than 250,000 images that depict aspects of British and American cultural and political life between the 16th and 19th centuries. Published as separately issued prints and in extra-illustrated books are portraits, historical scenes and events, political and social caricatures, theatrical and literary history, illustrations to Shakespeare’s plays, biblical illustrations, British and American views, and British and American trade cards.
The print collection also is rich in portraiture and iconographic figures and is representative of the history and technical development of printmaking processes through the mid-20th century.
Printed ephemera—that body of material that was produced for a one-time, limited purpose—can be understood generally as transient documents of everyday life. The Huntington’s collection of ephemera is an expansive archive of several hundred thousand pieces. The variety of subjects and formats represented in the larger collection supports historical research in the fields of American and British cultural studies. The collection emphasizes Western history and culture, especially that of Southern California. Among the noteworthy collection of ephemera is the Jay T. Last collection of lithographic and social history.
The Huntington’s art collections focus on two distinct areas—European art from the 15th to the early 20th century, and American art from the late 17th to the mid-20th century. The collection of 18th-century British and French works is considered one of the finest in the nation. The holdings continue to grow by gift and purchase, with especially significant acquisitions both in European and American art in recent years.
The Huntington aims to offer a high level of information and interpretation in its permanent galleries, supplemented by a program of special exhibitions, publications, and educational outreach. The Huntington takes an active part in the international network of institutions that organize major exhibitions
Established by Henry E. Huntington in 1908, The Huntington’s collection of European art presently numbers about 420 paintings, 370 sculptures, 2,500 objects of decorative art, and some 20,000 prints and drawings.
The Huntington’s collection of British art of the 18th and early 19th century is considered to be one of the greatest in the nation. Many of the best works by the most important English painters of the period are large formal portraits, and the collection includes 18 such works by Thomas Gainsborough (1727–1788), Thomas Lawrence (1769–1830), Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723–1792), George Romney (1734–1802), and others, including Gainsborough’s The Blue Boy (ca. 1770) and Karl Friedrich Abel (ca. 1777), Lawrence’s Pinkie (1794), and Reynolds’ Sarah Siddons as the Tragic Muse (1783–84).
The years around 1800 saw the rise of landscape painting with the beginning of the meteoric career of J. M. W. Turner (1775–1851). By the 1820s, John Constable (1776–1837) had also emerged as a major innovative force in European landscape painting. Both artists are represented in the collection by important works from the high point of their careers, including Constable’s monumental View on the Stour near Dedham (1822).
There are also strong collections of British sculpture, miniature portraits, and 18th-century English furniture. In 1999, a large collection of works relating to William Morris was purchased, establishing a new focus on the Design Reform movement from the 1840s through the early 20th century.
Now numbering approximately 14,000 the collection of British drawings and watercolors was founded on the purchase en bloc of two major English collections, the first especially rich in English landscape watercolors, and the second in works by 17th- and early-18th-century artists working in Britain. The most famous part of the collection is the extraordinary gathering of original watercolors and hand-colored illustrations by William Blake (1757–1827), assembled by Huntington himself.
The Huntington’s collection of French art, mostly from the 18th century, is one of the most significant in the United States and highly characteristic of the taste for grand siècle style among American millionaires in the early 20th century. A group of objects—including a set of Beauvais tapestries after designs by François Boucher (1703–1770) and major French ormolu-mounted furniture—is installed in the large library of the Huntington Art Gallery, where the star objects are two of the great Savonnerie carpets designed for the fabled redecoration of the Louvre palace by Louis XIV after he took over the reins of power from his mother in the 1660s.
Another strong collection is that of French sculpture, which consists of marbles, bronzes, and terra-cottas, mostly from the late 18th century. There are two major pieces by Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741–1828): the original life-size bronze first exhibited in 1782 of Diana the Huntress and the great marble portrait bust of Madame de Vermenoux (1777), both part of the Arabella D. Huntington Memorial Art Collection, assembled by Huntington in his wife’s memory just before he himself died.
The 18th-century French painting collection, the bequest of Judge Lucius Green in 1978, includes some brilliant examples of work by leading artists of the ancien régime (the pre-French Revolution social order), such as François Boucher, Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732–1806), Jean-Baptiste Greuze (1725–1805), Nicolas Lancret (1690–1743), and Antoine Watteau (1684–1721).
Other European Art
With an interest in representing those who influenced British painters, The Huntington holds works by Flemish artists such as Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641), who had a strong influence on English portraiture in the 18th century and is represented in the collection with the full-length Anne (Killigrew) Kirke (ca. 1637). City views by Antonio Canaletto (1697–1768), who worked in England, together with Francesco Guardi (1712–1793) and Bernardo Bellotto (1720–1780), were collected by Englishmen as souvenirs of their “grand tours; ”all three artists are represented by characteristic works.
A small group of Renaissance paintings, also in the Arabella Huntington Collection, has as its centerpiece the beautiful Virgin and Child (ca. 1460) by the Netherlandish master Rogier van der Weyden (1399/1400–1464). The Italian paintings include two panels showing courtly life in the late 15th century by the Stratonice Master, named after these panels, together with altar pieces of the 15th and 16th centuries, and two lyrical Florentine portraits by Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449–1494).
The Huntington’s Renaissance bronzes, many of them bought from the Pierpont Morgan Collection, form a particularly fine group around the famous Nessus and Deianira, a spectacular cast of a famous work by Giambologna (1529–1608) bearing the master’s signature.
Begun in 1979 with a major gift from the Virginia Steele Scott Foundation, the American art holdings presently number about 230 paintings, 50 works of sculpture, 950 decorative art pieces, 6,500 prints and drawings, and 1,750 photographs.
The American paintings collection covers the range of works produced from the colonial period and the first years of the republic through the antebellum period, the post–Civil War era, and the late 19th and mid-20th centuries. It includes important paintings by Frederic Edwin Church (1826–1900), John Singleton Copley (1738–1815), Thomas Eakins (1844–1916), Samuel L. “Sam” Francis (1923–1994), Robert Motherwell (1915–1991), John Singer Sargent (1856–1925), John Sloan (1871–1951), Robert Rauschenberg (1925–2008), and Andy Warhol (1928–1987). Famous highlights include Mary Cassatt’s (1845–1926) intimate Breakfast in Bed (1897) and Edward Hopper’s (1882–1967) evocative sailing scene, The Long Leg (ca. 1930). The collection emphasizes portraiture and history painting of the 18th century; landscape, still life, and genre painting in the 19th century; and social realism, regionalism, and abstraction in the 20th century.
American sculpture at The Huntington is represented by such memorable works as Chauncey Bradley Ives’ (1810–1894) life-size marble Pandora (1858) and Zenobia in Chains (1859) by Harriet Hosmer (1830–1908), the recently rediscovered sculpture that has seemed to typify the achievement of American women sculptors in the later 19th century. Twentieth-century American sculpture includes William Hunt Diederich’s (1884–1953) Antelope and Hound (1916) and Paul Manship’s (1885–1966) Morning, Day, and Evening from his symbolic bronze Moods of Time series (1938).
Period furniture and silver provide a domestic context for The Huntington’s American paintings and sculpture. A renowned collection of works by the American Arts and Crafts architects Charles and Henry Greene is a permanent part of the installation, including a complete re-creation of the dining room from the Robinson House (1905) and a mahogany and oak staircase with brass inlays made for the Arthur A. Libby House (1905, and since demolished). Other highlights include a cabinet (1904) by Ralph Whitehead’s Byrdcliffe Arts Colony, fine examples of works from Tiffany Studios, as well as works of ceramic and metals, including the Mrs. John Emerson Marble collection of early American silver.
Prints, Drawings, and Photographs
The Huntington’s expanding collection of American prints, drawings, and photographs spans the entire collection period, with highlights including a series of 11 evocative collages by Joseph Cornell (1903–1972) and 12 drawings by Robert Motherwell from his Lyric Suite series (1965). The collection recently has been enriched by the promised gifts of the John Sloan collection of Gary, Brenda, and Harrison Ruttenberg and the American print collection of Hannah S. Kully. Seminal photographs by Edward Weston (1886–1958) join quality groups of prints by Ansel Adams (1904–1984), Alma Lavenson (1897–1989), and many others to make California and the West a major strength within The Huntington’s photographs collection.
In 1903 Henry E. Huntington (1850–1927) purchased the San Marino Ranch, a working ranch about 12 miles from downtown Los Angeles with citrus groves, nut and fruit orchards, alfalfa crops, a small herd of cows, and poultry. His superintendent, William Hertrich (1878–1966), was instrumental in developing the various plant collections that comprise the foundation of The Huntington’s botanical gardens. The property—originally nearly 600 acres—today covers 207 acres, of which approximately 120 are landscaped and open to visitors. Some 14,000 different varieties of plants are showcased in more than a dozen principal garden areas.
The Australian Garden features some 150 species of eucalyptus plus acacias, bottle brushes, cycads, and melaleucas.
The Huntington’s distinguished Camellia collection, located in the Chinese and Japanese gardens as well as in the North Vista areas, features nearly 80 different species and more than 1,200 cultivated varieties covering 10 to 12 acres. Shaded by oak trees, gravel paths meander among sasanqua, japonica, and reticulata species plus other species of camellias and hybrids. A cultivar, Camellia japonica ‘Henry E. Huntington’ (a large pink, semi-double), hybridized by Nuccio’s Nurseries in Altadena, was introduced in September 1994 in honor of The Huntington’s 75th anniversary.
The Helen and Peter Bing Children’s Garden introduces youngsters to the wonders of the natural world with interactive sculptural elements based on the themes of earth, air, light, and water. With elements designed by California kinetic artist Ned Kahn, the garden features a fog grotto, rainbow room, magnetic sand, pebble chimes, prism tunnel, and other attractions that have proven irresistible to children.
The Huntington’s 3.5-acre Chinese Garden, the Garden of Flowing Fragrance, or Liu Fang Yuan, features a lake, a complex of pavilions and bridges, a teahouse, and a landscape showcasing native Chinese plants among native oaks, redwoods, and pines. Reflecting the traditional style of scholar gardens in Suzhou, China, the garden incorporates the craftsmanship of Chinese artisans as well as rocks and other materials imported from China.
Botanical education has become a focal point for The Huntington, and The Rose Hills Foundation Conservatory for Botanical Science is expressly geared toward engaging middle-school-age students and their families in inquiry-based learning about plants, ecosystems, and biodiversity using scientific tools and living plants.
The Desert Garden comprises approximately 10 acres, featuring one of the largest and most distinguished outdoor collections of cacti and succulents in the world. More than 4,000 species can be seen here, including the Puya chilensis from Chile, with its towering chartreuse blooms; “Crown of Thorns” (Euphorbia milii var. splendens) from Madagascar; Epiphytic cacti from tropical regions of Latin America; Chorisia insignis (Floss silk tree) from Argentina; Black aeonium (Aeonium arboreum ‘Zwartkop’) from northern Africa; Sempervivum arachnoideum (“Cobweb plant”) from the mountains of Europe; and the boojum tree (Fouquieria columnaris) from Mexico as well as crassulas, agaves, aloes, yuccas, and many other beautiful and fascinating dry-climate plants.
The Japanese Garden, established in 1912 and renovated in 2012, features koi ponds, a moon bridge, a Japanese house, a ceremonial teahouse, and bonsai courts. Plants include flowering peach, apricot, Formosan cherry, large specimens of Cycas revoluta (cycads), wisteria, willow, Japanese red pine, Japanese maple (Acer palmatum), camellias, azaleas, ginkgo trees (in the Zen Garden, added in 1968), and a large collection of bonsai trees.
Growing near the waterfall in the Jungle Garden are many varieties of gingers, ferns, calla lilies, and bromeliads. A shady canopy is provided by towering trees, such as the Ombú tree from Argentina, with its massive water-storing base, and the Ficus columnaris, with vine-like aerial roots extending down from upper branches to form new trunks.
The Lily Ponds were the first area of the gardens to be developed, in 1904. Bamboos, water lilies, Sacred Indian lotus, and other aquatic plants can be found here.
The North Vista frames a view of the San Gabriel Mountains and is flanked on each side by rows of 18th-century Italian sculptures with an Italian Renaissance stone fountain at the farthest end. Tall columns of “Fountain Palms” (Livistona australis) line each side of the North Vista. Beyond these lie several acres of camellias and azaleas.
The Palm Garden was begun in 1905. Almost all of the more than 200 species of palm that can be grown in Southern California’s dry climate are represented. They include Chamaerops humilis, the only palm native to Europe; Washingtonia filifera, the only native Californian palm; the endangered Chilean wine palm Jubaea chilensis (which has the thickest trunk of any palm); and the Canary Island palm Phoenix canariensis.
The Rose Garden was created in 1908 and comprises approximately three acres. More than 1,200 cultivars (approximately 4,000 individual plants) are featured, arranged historically to trace the development of roses from ancient to modern times. It includes forms dating to the pre-Christian era; early European roses from Medieval and Renaissance times; Tea and China roses introduced into Europe around 1800; classic hybrid teas, floribundas, polyanthas, and miniatures; and David Austin’s modern “English Roses.” The entrance pathway leads to an 18th-century French stone tempietto and statue, “Love, the Captive of Youth,” encircled by ‘French Lace’ roses.
The Shakespeare Garden pays tribute to The Huntington’s early editions of Shakespeare’s works and includes a number of plants and flowers mentioned in the Bard’s plays. Small plaques accompany various plants with quotes from relevant lines or verses: “It was the nightingale, and not the lark, That pierc'd the fearful hollow of thine ear; Nightly she sings on yond pomegranate-tree” (Romeo and Juliet, Act III, Scene V); “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance” (Hamlet, Act IV, Scene V). Some of the less obvious Shakespearean plants in the garden include wild thyme, garlic, woodbine, grape, crab-apple, myrtle, sweet violet, lemon balm, fern, and holly. Other colorful perennials suitable to California’s climate complete the landscape.
In the Subtropical Garden, plants from the Mediterranean region and other subtropical climes provide a colorful display almost year-round: flowering trees include cassias, cape chestnut, bauhinias, tabebuias, and jacarandas.