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Huntington Library

Los Angeles, California: Dave and I drove to Los Angeles Sunday afternoon. Fall is in the air! Ha, just kidding. It is 85 degrees and sunny. Leo has a flag football game, there were pumpkins to carve and Lisa and Lenny were throwing another Halloween blow-out bash.

Brought Buttermilk Rolls for Leo

Still, the kids had school Monday and the adults had to work, so I booked tickets for Dave and I to spend the day at the Huntington near Pasadena. This large complex consists of gardens, art museums, and a massive library on the estate of the Huntington Family. It was left to the people of California when they passed away, and now attracts 800,000 visitors each year. We arrived at 10a, left at 3:30p and saw maybe half of the property, and I had 15,000 steps on my pedometer.

There is a map, and we followed the advice of a volunteer to take the outer loop, which began a walk through the “desert” garden area, filled with plants native to California and surrounding deserts. Some photos:

Huntington Gardens
Lil’ Lizard
Huntington Gardens
Huntington Gardens
Huntington Gardens

Then we walked a bit, somehow passing by the Australian landscape and found ourselves in Japan. After having to drive within a mile of The Huntington every time we visit Los Angeles, and never once stopping, a new addition to the estate finally caused me to book a ticket: a Shoya House. This 300 year old Shoya was disassembled, transported to California and reassembled on the Huntington Estate. I had to see this.

Shoya House at the Huntington Gardens

The house is over 90% original - a few things needed updating - and is basically a large open space, with sliding screens that can divide the space into smaller rooms. The public used the front part of the house to conduct local business, and the family lived in the rear. The original property had a large garden and rice paddies, and these elements have also been added to the house at this location. After touring the house (too dark for photos), we walked through the Japanese Gardens on the estate:

Japanese Gardens
Japanese Gardens

Next stop:: China, and an absolutely massive Chinese garden with multiple pagodas, tea rooms, and covered shelters surrounding a large body of water (too small to be a lake; too large to be a pond).

Chinese Garden at Huntington Gardens
DT in China
Chinese Garden
Chinese Garden
Always the “center” of attention
Chinese Garden

Then we went through the American Art Museum, and then the Huntington Collection - the private collection of Mr. & Mrs. Huntington, which is on display in their home.

Huntington Palace
We were too late for lunch…

As I found with several homes-that-are-now-museums in Europe, this home was the star of the show. Just fantastic, with so much thought in every detail. Stunning views from every window, and the scale is - well, palatial.

But the star of the house is Thomas Gainsborough’s The Blue Boy, shining from his display in a massive gallery, surrounded by other portraits - many painted by Gainsborough.

Huntington Gallery
The Blue Boy

There are many places for lunch, snacks, or beverage on the estate grounds. There is even a decent Chinese restaurant in the Chinese garden… but we ended up at the 1919 Cafe where they serve-up anything from soups, sandwiches, tacos or pizza. We had taco bowls, and they were quite nice.

Chicken taco bowl with spicy salsa

We also visited the huge rose garden next to Huntington Palace. A table was set up under a shady tree, where volunteers invited visitors to “stop and smell the roses” and the names of the rose often gave-away the scent.

I love yellow roses!
Art in the rose garden

After a quick spin through the gift shop - certainly one of the best museum gift shops in America? - we headed out to watch Leo’s flag football game. He was playing at the Rose Bowl!

The Rose Bowl in Pasadena

Okay, so I joke… not exactly in the Rose Bowl, but in a field next to the Rose Bowl that is used as a parking lot on game days.

Leo’s team won, 8-6

I’m new to this flag football thing, though Leo has been playing for three years. There are different leagues (even within the opposing schools), and each league has different rules. Leo is one of few 6th graders on his middle-school team, but he gets playing time every game, mostly due to the fact he is fast. Very fast.

When we all met-up again at the house, Lisa had a hot pot of soup waiting for us. Perfect ending to a perfect day.

If you are ever near Pasadena, I encourage you to take a day to explore the magical Huntington Library. (Oh, we never made it to the actual library - but they have one of the 48 remaining Gutenberg Bibles.) See, another reason to return.

Until my next (probably spooky) update, I remain, your botanical correspondent.