Friday, April 18, 2014

Spring Bloom In The Huntington Desert Garden

Gasteria
 Though there are still Aloes blooming in April, the majority are finished, and spring bloomers such as Puyas take over. 
Cericidium x 'Desert Museum'
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The Cericidium yellow competed with the glowing Golden Barrels.
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This Euphorbia was also ablaze.
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Dyckia 
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Pachycereus marginatus
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Agave marmorata has particularly bright flowers:
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Flowers all over the Euphorbia millii
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We counted eight fat hummingbirds fighting over this mass of hybrid Aloe flowers.  
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And many Puyas were just beginning their floral show.
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That amazing rich deep blue...
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These are enormous--24" (60 cm) tall, at least, on a 10' (3 meter) stalk.
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   photo dg5719_zps260f1264.jpg An out-of-the-ordinary Erythrina, E. acanthocarpa:
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House finches on a cactus
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How's this for tall? 
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In future, I will not hesitate to visit the Desert Garden in April.  There's more to it than Aloes.
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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

More Of The Huntington Rose Garden (Faux Bois)

Recently restored faux bois trees framed by 'Fourth Of July' roses:
Besides our brief tour led by Rose Garden Curator Tom Carruth, we also had a chance to hear about the restoration of the one hundred faux bois tree sculptures in the Japanese and Rose gardens.  Our guide was the man restoring the sculptures, Terence Eagan.
The man himself:
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Mr. Eagan gave a fascinating summary of his four year (so far) restoration project.  The original sculptures were done nearly 100 years ago, and they were beginning to deteriorate due to water finding its way into air pockets within the sculptures. 
Faux bois humor:
 photo hrg5499_zps6b581c18.jpg  When Mr. Eagan does a repair, he must be absolutely certain to leave no air pockets.   He uses a special mixture of concrete and acrylic rather than water, so that water doesn't rust the metal supports that give the concrete structural strength.  
Faux bois
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There is an interior structure;  the visible portion is another layer that is laid on top, like icing on a cake.  Mr. Eagan must work quickly because concrete hardens within a brief span of time--he is able to stretch out the working time of the concrete by keeping it in pastry-bags sunk into ice.  
Real bois
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Mr. Eagan dug through the Huntington records trying to discover the names of the unknown artists who did the original work ninety years ago.  He has a guess, but there is no documented proof as to who the men were, or how they came by their craft.  
Clytostoma callistegioides vine on faux bois sculptures:
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Mr. Eagan also discussed one thing I've always wondered about:  at the southern end of the long Rose Garden faux bois pergola, about twenty of the trees are markedly different from the rest of the trees in the Japanese and Rose gardens.  They have a different style and texture, and seem to be of a different type of tree.  Why?  Mr. Eagan thought it might have been a case of master and apprentice--the apprentice was set to work in one part of the garden while the master worked in another.  No one knows for sure.  
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After that interesting tour, we wandered around the rose garden and inhaled the fragrance and beauty.
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'Julia Child'
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The red climber might be 'Dublin Bay':
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The mulch that covers the rose garden beds is made up of trees on the property that were blown down in a wind storm a few years ago.  They return now to the soil from which they grew.
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Tamora in front, Icebergs in the distance:
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In the rose garden, there are views into the Herb garden.  
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And the nearby Shakespeare Garden.
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Truly a piece of Eden...
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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Bloom Day April 2014: What's Blooming Here?

Clematis 'Cezanne'
 What's blooming here?
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'Fourth Of July'
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Clematis 'Jackmanii'
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The white climbing rose is 'Sombreuil'
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What's blooming here?  Everything!  photo PeakSpring145809_zps6068eb63.jpg
Happy Bloom Day!

Click over to May Dreams Gardens for more beautiful blooms.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Huntington Rose Garden In Full Spring Bloom

Members got a chance yesterday morning to take a quick tour with Rose Garden Curator Tom Carruth, formerly hybridizer for Weeks Roses.  
The rose garden now has two full time gardeners and a thick layer of mulch. The roses were in full flush and looked spectacular.
The man himself:
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Ardoisée de Lyon, Hybrid Perpetual, 1858:
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The roses are not sprayed with insecticides or fungicides.  Disease is not an overwhelming problem in Southern California's warm dry climate.
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The rose garden is three acres in size, containing some 1200 varieties and 3,500 individual plants. 
'Iceberg' and 'Brilliant Pink Iceberg':
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The long pergola has been repaired, and the one hundred Faux Bois sculptures installed by Henry Huntington are being restored.  The restoration has so far taken four years.  
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 (More about the Faux Bois later)
 photo hrg5500_zps7abfe883.jpg The allée of cast iron arches were also repaired. They are also original to the rose garden and were made from pieces of leftover pipe.  Henry Huntington was a thrifty man.  Because the particular pipe fittings used are no longer manufactured, certain pieces had to be custom-cast to make the necessary repairs.
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Some of the climbing roses are finally making headway on those cast iron arches.  'Climbing Winnifred Coulter' (1968) is doing very well. 
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'Climbing Polka'
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A new introduction for 2015, 'Above All':
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Last year 'Mermaid' was removed from the large dome structure and replaced with tiny 'Renae' plants.  This year the tiny 'Renae's are already taller than 8' and blooming.  'Renae's pink flowers might be discerned just above the head of the gentleman being iphonographed by his companion: photo hrg5536_zps505d1351.jpg
 Some editing of the collection continues.  The mammoth 'Gertrude Jekyll' in the Austin bed was removed because it did not rebloom.  There is a new focus on very fragrant roses--visitors want fragrance.

'Tess of the d'Ubervilles'
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Trees have been trimmed back to allow for more sun.
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Some new mass plantings have been added to great effect.  
'Jump For Joy' and 'Out Of The Blue'
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Cecile Brunner
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'Cécile Brunner'
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'Passionate Kisses'
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A bit of sly rosarian humor--the 17th century French marble 'Temple of Love' is protected by a hedge of 'Passionate Kisses'
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The mass plantings are brilliant, but taking the time to examine individual flowers is also rewarding.
'Mellow Yellow': 
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This wonderful Hulthemia hybrid is a chance seedling found in the garden with the very catchy name of '09MKB-1'
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'Munstead Wood':
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The unique white-edged 'Baron Girod de l'Ain':
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'Julia's Rose':
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'Lady Emma Hamilton':
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 150 different clusters of bulbs, mostly winter-blooming, have been added to give the area interest when the roses are cut back in January.  
A delicate species Gladiola:
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A large part of the garden is currently watered by hand.  New automated irrigation is planned;  it will be overhead spray, not drip.  The overhead spray reduces powdery mildew in the garden--and the area's hot summers dries foliage quickly.  The Huntington has its own well water supply, but in addition, makes use of municipal water--however, it also supplies water to the municipal system from its wells. 
Ooopsie!  Who forgot to put the hose away?  
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I was going to also discuss the faux bois restoration, but this post is long enough.  Tomorrow--or the next day.  And then there are the Puya flowers in the Desert Garden...

In the meantime if you are a rose lover in Southern California, please do try to visit the Huntington in the next few days to see  the garden in peak bloom.  It's heavenly.
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