The Huntington Botanical Gardens

By Shira Glasner
Field seminar Course

I’ll admit that I didn’t expect to visit quiet, beautiful gardens, old fountains and European statues in my visit to sun-filled LA. The gardens’ 120 acres were purchased in 1903 by railroad magnate, Henry Huntington, who loved rare plants and arts. Indeed, the gardens are landscaped with nearly 50,000 plants, some beautiful sculpture and a fountain that Mr. Huntington saw in Italy and arranged for it to be shipped to his property. The gardens area also includes art galleries and a library, which we didn’t get to this time.

Figure 1: The Desert Garden

Moving back from the beginning of the 20th century to our times, it seems that the garden’s management has many decisions to make regarding how to progress forward, as was explained to us by our knowledgeable guide, Mexx Echt, who is the Gardens’ project coordinator. Should the gardens expand? Should they be more accessible to the public by having lower entrance fee? Should they allow having events in the gardens, thus increasing their income in the price of some change to the current atmosphere? An additional aspect in deciding what to do with their budget is the issue of irrigation, which is a large expense currently, and expected to rise if the gardens expand in future years. On the one hand they have the rights to the water in the property so they pump the water themselves, on the other hand, the irrigation system is old and outdated, and replacing it with more efficient systems costs a lot. For example, Mr. Echt showed us a roof that covers a water reservoir. This roof can be used as a surface for solar panels, but it needs to be renovated before this can happen, which adds to the already high costs. My thoughts were that they should pick a few major infrastructure projects that have to do with water savings, and “market” them to potential donors or to federal/private funds. It should probably be done in a different way than other donations to the garden, but with today’s environmental awareness, I think that families who look to commemorate their loved ones would be happy to donate money to this purpose.

In any path that they will choose, I envied the neighboring houses for having such relaxing, green gardens next to them.


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