Updated on October 17, 2021
Day 1 of 2021 Los Angeles Trip: Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens
Saturday May 15, 2021. I joined a friend of mine in Los Angeles visiting Huntington Gardens.
For this weekend in Los Angeles, I intended to visit a few friends that lived in the area. It happened that Huntington Gardens were on one of my friends’ bucket list, so we decided to spend the day there.
In times of COVID, almost all enclosed public spaces in and around Los Angeles enacted online reservations to limit crowd sizes. That combined with people’s urge to head out over the weekends meant the other few places that my friends recommended, including Getty Villa and Museum, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, were all fully booked, so we were left with Huntington Gardens, which another of my friend described as “the place people hang out after dinner”, which became fully booked too a few days after we snapped our tickets.
So after grabbing my rental car at Los Angeles Airport and checking out of hotel room, I killed some time chatting with my friend before our tickets’ timed entry. Huntington Gardens offered free parking, and its lot was pretty fully by the time we arrived.
The full name of Huntington involved library, art museum, and botanical gardens. Unfortunately due to COVID, the library was closed, and the remaining indoor art museums enforced strict occupancy limits. After a short wait, we entered its European Art Gallery first.
European Art Gallery
The European Art Gallery was converted from a former villa. While its second floor was closed for renovation, there were quite a few oil paintings of portraits on display on the ground floor. It didn’t take long to tour through its exhibit, but I quite liked it.
Not far from European Art Gallery was American Art Gallery, which we visited after lunch. Unfortunately, it’s display was too modern for us to appreciate.
In addition, another gallery had a special exhibition “Made in L.A. 2020” on display, which unfortunately had the longest lines. Disappointedly, I would call that exhibition sadistic, as if nothing good came out of Los Angeles in the year 2020. Even more disappointing, “Made in L.A. 2020” was a two-part exhibit, with the other half displayed in Hammer Museum. That killed my thought of trying to visit Hammer the next day.
It’s the time of year that roses were in full bloom in Huntington’s rose garden (and subsequently on Instagram). It’s not far from the two galleries, so we paid it a visit.
Pretty much like every other type of plants here (cactus in particular), while to me they were all roses, Huntington had them of all different breeds and origins on display, thus it’s always a new sight every few steps away.
Click here to display photos of the roses
Right next to Roses Garden it’s Japanese Garden. Unfortunately, with strict one-way rules among its complex passages, we didn’t get to explore it in full before we started to feel hungry.
So after a quick tour of the Japanese Garden, we made the long trek to the only restaurant that’s open in Huntington, located near the entrance.
After lunch, we decided to visit the nearby Desert Garden, which I thought was the best garden in Huntington. It’s appropriate for Los Angele’s arid climate, compared to the huge amount of water used to keep plants in other areas of Huntington alive.
The cones on its trunk looked uninviting. In addition to that, the shape of its trunk were like someone that’s obviously overweight.
- Cactus in BloomOne that defies my expectation for both the color and shape of cactus.
- Cactus on TreesScars on the trunk looked like it had grown many eyes.
In the desert garden, I was fascinated by the sheer variety of plants, mostly cactus, that’s on display. I had this prejudice that deserts were mostly lifeless and un-interesting, so it’s bewildering to see cactus of all shapes and sizes, as if I was touring the plasticine creations of a 6-year-old.
Click here to display photos of the desert garden
Other Botanical Gardens
In addition to rose and desert gardens, Huntington also featured jungle, subtropical and Australian gardens, which seemed dull against the fascination of desert garden.
I briefly concluded that they had all kinds of trees, summarized below:
Click here to display photos of the trees
Finally, we circled back to the Chinese Garden, the largest of Huntington and still expanding.
It’s noticeable that Huntington was meticulously managing the Chinese Garden, from having its own pamphlets, managing the poems on the pavilion entrances, to growing the plants to exactly the same way as if they were in China. A random photo from the Chinese Garden would have no difficulty fooling an average Chinese person that it’s taken in China.
Yet on another aspect, with most of the Chinese Garden freshly built and still expanding, it resembled, in a lamentable way, to many gardens and mansions in nowadays China under government control. They were uninhabited, with fresh spotless paints as a hollow facade, but nothing underneath it that survived through time.
Click here to display photos of the Chinese Garden
Finally, here’s a brief recap of all the animals we ran into today.
The usually congregated near walkways or bridges, having their mouths wide open waiting to be fed by passers-by. My friend tried to feed them with fallen leaves to draw their attention. After finding out leaves weren’t edible, they stopped paying attention to my friend.
- FrogIn Chinese Garden and peacefully enjoying its life.
- Bird Preying on Butterfly
Somehow, the birds we ran into today were all very violent. This is a rather peculiar and disturbing scene to watch.
Somehow, the birds we ran into today were all very violent. This one had its eyes set on a worm on the ground. Soon a few spectators, I included, witnessed it devoured its prey.
Click here to display photos of the animals
Day 1 of 2021 Los Angeles Trip: Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens by Huang's Site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.