California Diary | The Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens
The Huntington Library is just a short walk from the house we’re renting in San Marino, and is as famous for its beautiful gardens as it is for the library and research institute itself, so early one morning, Terry and I headed over there on foot… and it was closed. D’oh! We seem to be making a habit of this – plan in advance, kids!
As I said, it’s just a short walk, so it was no biggie to turn back – or it wouldn’t have been if it wasn’t for the fact that we managed to get lost in the maze of streets surrounding the place, and did I mention it was over 100 degrees most days last week? It was over 100 degrees. We managed to find our way back eventually, though, and we also saw a coyote running across the street right in front of us, which I briefly thought I might have hallucinated due to the heat, but no, it was a real coyote, so that was pretty cool. (And also pretty HOT: seriously, why do we do it to ourselves?!)
Anyway, we had another go at visiting The Huntington a few days later, and this time it was open, so that was a good start. The first surprise (for me) was the $25 admission charge: most libraries and botanic gardens back home are free to visit, so I was all, “$25? That’s, like, a lipstick in Sephora!” Because I always have my priorities straight, people, yes I do. What I wasn’t realising, though, is that The Huntington isn’t really comparable to the Botanic Gardens we have back home (Sorry, Glasgow and Edinburgh…); for one thing, it’s so huge there were moments where I seriously thought we’d never find our way out, and would just be wandering around there forever, but for another, it’s just absolutely stunning. And yes, totally worth the $25, trust me on this.
The gardens, as I said, go on forever, and are themed around different countries, so you get to see plants and design from all over the world. I couldn’t pick a favourite between the Chinese and Japanese gardens, but I also loved the Shakespeare garden, which contains more roses than you could count, and about a millionty-one photo ops. (If you think I used too many in this post, you should see the state of my memory card right now, seriously…)
For once we departed from our un-cultured ways, and actually DID go into the library itself, where you can see some of the collection of rare books and manuscripts. Security is pretty tight because of the value of some of the exhibits: upon entry to the garden, you’re given a large, bright blue sticker which you’re instructed to wear on your clothes (The woman on security took one look at me, and, without me saying a word, said, “Yeah, this REALLY isn’t going to work with your outfit: maybe just carry it instead?” Thanks, kind security lady…), and some of the buildings also have lockers for you to leave your bags etc. We obviously didn’t take photos inside, but I reckon you’ve probably seen enough by now anyway, no?
(P.S. Thanks to my mum for letting me steal some of her photos!)