The Huntington Gardens

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens was founded in 1919 by Henry Edwards Huntington. Originally from New York, he worked for his uncle, Collis Huntington, one of the owners of Central Pacific Railroad. Eventually he made his way to LA and bought what was then known as the San Marino Ranch and tansformed it into the Gardens it is today.

On this trip we decided to just visit the gardens as it was such a beautiful day. I will definitely be going back to do a follow up post on the library and galleries. There are more than a dozen gardens covering 12o acres of the land. You can easily get lost in enjoying all the different areas and I found myself really paying attention to the varieties and even getting ideas for my own garden.

Walking down from the Rose Garden, there is a brilliant, picturesque walkway leading down to the Japanese Garden, which was opened to the public in 1928. Covering nine acres, it was inspired by widespread Western fascination with Asian culture. As was fashionable at the time, many wealthy Americans and Europeans added exotic gardens to their estates. Henry E. Huntington decided to build his own Japanese garden on his San Marino estate. Purchased in its entirety by Huntington, the materials also included the Japanese House. The moon bridge, commissioned by Huntington, was built by Japanese craftsman Toichiro Kawai.

Elements of this five-room house were created in Japan and acquired by Huntington in 1911. It is considered one of the best examples of early 20th century Japanese architecture in the United States. In 1968, The garden was expanded to include a bonsai collection and zen court. In the Harry Hirao Suiseki Court you can touch the suiseki or viewing stones, an ancient Japanese art form, or meditate at the Zen Court, an example of the contained landscapes that once evolved in the temple gardens of Japan. Patterns raked into gravel, rock formations and shrubbery are used to symbolize water, space, movement and other abstract ideas.

Behind the Japanese Garden there was a nice zigzag walkway that goes back downhill and leads you to the Australian Garden. Just past that is the Jungle Garden and Lily Ponds.

As we came up the East side of the grounds along side Oxford Rd. we came to the Desert Garden is one of the largest and oldest assemblages of cacti and other succulents in the world. It was such a sunny day so we had a beautiful walk through this area and we were pleasantly surprised at how many different plants there were that we really loved.

 

 

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Hollywood Forever Cemetery

An easy afternoon trip while you’re in Hollywood is the Forever Cemetery (originally the Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery) on Santa Monica Blvd just behind Paramount Pictures studio lot. Here you’ll find the graves of many celebrities including Douglas Fairbanks, Estelle Getty and Jayne Mansfield.

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Just inside the entrance and to the left is the tomb of the DeMille family, including Cecil B. DeMille. DeMille was one of the most influential directors in the industry and is known for epic films like The Ten Commandments and Cleopatra. It was cool that the entire family is entombed there, but super creepy that there are even spots on either side named for members that haven’t even died yet, including his granddaughter, Cecilia DeMille Presley.

Past their tomb is a massive lake with fountains and some graves have had benches placed next to them so you can sit and feed the ducks and geese. The structure in the center entombs William Clark Jr., the founder of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.

 

 

Once on the other side it was easy to spot Johnny Ramone, the co-founder and guitarist for The Ramones.

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The Cathedral Mausoleum is a really beautiful structure inside and recently they began entombing people on the outside as well. One of the most recent is Mickey Rooney who passed just this April. Walking through the inside, our footsteps echoed as we passed huge family crypts as well as shadow boxes with cremated urns and memorabilia depicting the personalities. We found ourselves getting lost finding out who each person was, but once I realised I had wandered off and was alone I definitely wanted to hurry and find my friends as I felt the weight of those stories around me.

Some more upbeat wanderings…