The Desert Garden at the Huntington Library


One of the highlights of our week in Los Angeles was an afternoon at The Huntington Library. We’d been for tea in the Rose Garden and I’d used the library as a graduate student, but somehow I’d always missed their desert collection. Fittingly, we chose to finally visit on an afternoon when the temperature rose to 93 degrees.

Hudson still had a great time running through the vast gardens, Skyler took a sweaty nap in her stroller, and we did our best to cool them down with splashes of water while admiring the incredible collection of succulents and cacti.





From the library’s website:

“The Huntington Desert Garden is one of the largest and oldest assemblages of cacti and other succulents in the world. Nearly 100 years old, it has grown from a small area on the Raymond fault scarp when in 1907-1908 William Hertrich brought in plants from local nurseries, private residences, public parks, and from collection trips to the Southwest and Mexican deserts. Today the two dozen families of succulents and other arid adapted plants have developed into a 10-acre garden display, the Huntington’s most important conservation collection, a most important mission and challenge.”

“Expeditions were mounted to the southwestern United States and Mexico in search of unusual plants—towering  saguaros (Carnegiea gigantea), graceful agaves, bristling hedgehog cacti (Echinocereus), barrel cacti (Ferocactus) and other desert denizens. As the garden grew, reaching roughly its current 11-acre size by the 1920s, so did the breadth of the collection, with rarities being imported from as far away as South America, Madagascar, and South Africa.  Some of those early plantings can still be seen in the garden…  Today, this otherworldly Eden displays more than 50,000 beautiful plants representing approximately 4,000 species of cacti and succulents.”




If you have a chance to visit, I recommend you bring a hat and water and take your time getting lost there and elsewhere around the library grounds. There are over a dozen different gardens spread over the 120-acre ranch. The Children’s Garden and the kids’ section in the bookstore were favorite stops for everyone. Note that they’re closed on Tuesdays.


Hoping to post a full Los Angeles travelogue soon! Until then, an ever-evolving Pinterest guide to LA.

P.S. Vertical gardens in Paris. And drought-tolerant inspiration for our backyard.

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