Monday, April 12, 2021

THE GARDEN OF FLOWERING FRAGRANCE: Chinese Garden at the Huntington, San Marino, CA by Caroline Arnold at The Intrepid Tourist

 52 Places to Go: Week 15

Zigzag Bridge in the Chinese Garden, The Huntington, San Marino, CA
In the Chinese Garden at The Huntington, in San Marino, California, the exotic plants, beautiful small lake, complex of pavilions, tea house and tea shop, stone bridges, and waterfalls, make one feel transported to another time and place. Built in the style of traditional scholar gardens in Suzhou, China, it is the perfect harmony of nature and architecture.
Tea House
On a recent warm afternoon, Art and I went there with a friend, beginning our visit with a delicious lunch from the garden restaurant of pot stickers, wontons, and a rice bowl, which we ate outdoors on the patio at the edge of the lake. (There were also tables inside the tea house.) We watched a pair of geese swim while colorful koi glided through the shallow water below. A heron flew overhead.(The Huntington gardens are are great place for bird watching.)
Flowering tree
Around us, trees were beginning to blossom, and along the paths plants were covered with bright flowers. The Chinese name of the garden, Liu Fang Yuan, means Garden of Flowing Fragrance and the look and smell of spring was everywhere.
Stone bridge is framed by a wooden window
After our lunch we circled the lake, stopping to admire the view from the various bridges and pavilions. In typical Chinese style, windows of the structures were designed to frame the view and were works of art in themselves.
Pavilion of The Three Friends is seen through the waterfall
At each turn there were views to admire. On one side of the garden a waterfall tumbled over a ledge and had a walkway underneath. On the other side of the lake, water cascaded down the hill creating a small stream.
This natural stone sculpture is titled Patching Up the Sky
Throughout the garden groups of rocks have been artfully arranged to create miniature landscapes. And everything is named--from the buildings, to the sculptures, to the groves of trees. (The Pavilion of The Three Friends seemed like the perfect spot for a picture of the three of us.) Throughout the garden benches were strategically place for resting and enjoying the view. And although there were quite a few other people strolling the paths, the garden felt tranquil and evoked a sense of peace.
Water lilies grow on the 1.5 acre lake
The Huntington, originally the estate of railroad magnate Henry Huntington, is famous for its library of rare manuscripts and its art collection, as well as its many gardens. I have been to the Huntington numerous times, but it is so big  there is never enough time to see everything in one visit. The Chinese garden is a relatively recent addition.  (It opened to the public in 2008.)  I had not had a chance to visit it before so this was an ideal opportunity.
Lattice window looks out of the garden
Afterward, we visited the Japanese garden, with its raked stone zen garden and amazing collection of bonsai, strolled through the rose garden, just bursting into flower, stopped to take a look at the exhibits in the Dibner Hall of the History of Science (with its display of 250 copies of Darwin’s Origin of Species in its many editions and translations), and ended our day with a walk through the Desert Garden, where the cacti and succulents were in glorious bloom. I’m glad I finally had a chance to visit the Chinese garden. It was the perfect beginning to a spring afternoon at the Huntington.

For information about visiting the Huntington, click HERE.
Walkways in the Chinese Garden are created with a mosaic of dark and light stones  
This article was originally published in 2019.
All text and photos copyright Caroline Arnold.

Monday, April 5, 2021

IMAGINARY WORLDS at the Atlanta Botanical Garden by Caroline Arnold at The Intrepid Tourist

52 Places to Go: Week 14

Peacock living sculpture inside the orchid house at the Atlanta Botanical Garden

(Note: This article was originally posted in July 2018. For information on current exhibits and visiting the Atlanta Botanical Garden, check their website.)

A fearsome dragon, a caravan of camels, a spectacular peacock and a giant Earth goddess, all created from living plants, are just a few of the many delights of the Imaginary Worlds: Once Upon a Time exhibit in the Atlanta Botanical Garden. The exhibit is mounted in partnership with the International Mosaiculture of Montreal.

Chiluly glass sculpture, fountain at the Levy Parterre
In May, on a brief trip to Atlanta, I had the morning free and decided to visit the Botanical Garden, located in Piedmont Park, about a twenty-minute walk from my hotel in Mid-town. It was a beautiful sunny day and I joined other visitors and numerous school groups touring the garden.
Detail of Dragon sculpture; plants are plugged into a metal framework stuffed with planting mixture
The pieces in the exhibit are positioned throughout the garden along with the permanent plantings. They are created with a process known as mosaiculture. Mosaiculture first became popular in Europe in the 16th century as wealthy landowners commissioned elaborate three-dimensional gardens, or “embroidery beds,” for enjoying up close or at a distance. (By the late 1860's, the term “mosaiculture” was used for the first time in France, referring to the mosaic-like appearance of the surfaces of planted sculptures.)
Once Upon a Time "Storybook"
After purchasing my ticket and entering the garden I was greeted by the Storybooks sculpture. There I opted to go left toward the rose garden, great lawn and greenhouses. At the edge of the great lawn a huge dragon, who appeared ready to take flight, dominated the scene.
Dragon, mounted in the rock garden
From there I made my way toward the orchid center. On much of my tour I ended up following a school group taking a docent guided tour. At the Bogs and Poison Plant garden the kids were squatting on the ground trying to get a close-up looks at the Venus fly-traps and poking them with sticks to try to get them to snap shut.
The orchid house is truly spectacular, with orchids of every size, shape and color. In the center was a giant peacock, part of the Imaginary World exhibit.
Earth Goddess at the Cascades Garden
I then circled back to the entrance passing through the peaceful Japanese garden and taking the bridge to the Kendeda canopy walk where I got a view of the Earth Goddess presiding over the refreshing Cascades Garden. She has become a permanent feature of the Botanical Garden. The rest of the sculptures except for the Shaggy Dog are temporary.

On my way back to the entrance I almost missed the mammoth with its giant tusks, peeking through the greenery. For a moment, I thought it was real!

Imaginary Worlds: Once Upon a Time was on view May-October 2018.

The Atlanta Botanical Garden is currently open to visitors but with limited capacity. Timed tickets and Covid rules are in place.
For more information go to