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Show #49/1810. The Huntington Gardens

Summary of Show

History
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens was FOUNDED IN 1919 by Henry Huntington, an exceptional businessman who built an empire around railroads and real estate holdings in southern California. Henry Edwards Huntington was born in 1850 in New York. In 1872 he went to work for his uncle, Tollis B. Huntington, one of the owners of the Central Pacific Railroad. 20 years later Huntington moved to San Francisco at his uncle's request to share management of the Southern Pacific Railroad.
For More Information Click here

Overview Desert Garden
THE DESERT GARDEN is not only one of most lush succulent gardens Eric has seen but it certainly must be one of the largest. Clair believes it is probably one of the largest out-of-doors collections in the world. There may be larger collections but they would exist in small pots and greenhouses. This garden is about 12 acres and there are thousands of different plants and hundreds of different genera.
For More Information Click here

Golden Barrel Cactus
With so many plants to choose from Clair narrows it down to several favorites and several that are rare. The GOLDEN BARREL CACTUS is one. Eric has never seen more than 2 or 3 Golden Barrel cactus in any garden. Clair thinks that there are actually more in this collection than exist in the wild in Mexico.
For More Information Click here

Camellias
They move on to look at THE COLLECTION OF CAMELLIAS. Again, they have an expansive collection. It's a spectacular garden with a tremendous variety of species. They have about 1,200 different kinds of Camellias and a large collection of species. Their main strength is the Japonica and Sasanquas. Japonica is a big tall grower with large flowers; the Sasanquas tend to be more compact growing and have smaller flowers. The Sasanquas bloom earlier and extend through the season while the Japonicas catch up about mid-season and their flowering ends around March.
For More Information Click here

Japanese Garden
Eric likes the fact that The Huntington has not only different gardens but each one is unique. The next garden is a great example, it is a JAPANESE or Asian garden. The difference between a Japanese garden and an American garden or traditional western garden is the Western garden is based on very old style European gardening which is right angles, long straight lines, viewpoints, vistas at the end, that kind of thing. Whereas in a Japanese garden it's all about surprise, coming around the corner and seeing something spectacularly beautiful. The Japanese garden is more about the textures of the leaves, the foliage, the shades of green, the colors of the foliage.
For More Information Click here

Chinese Garden
The next garden is THE CHINESE GARDEN. The principal difference between the Japanese garden and the Chinese garden is subtle but the Chinese garden is typically larger scale. The Chinese garden is less cerebral than a Japanese garden. It's more about space. The Chinese have a larger country, thus more space to devote. They tend to live more in the garden. They use a lot of boulders. The Huntington imported these boulders from China, the plants were grown locally. But, they are authentic, the kinds of plants one would find in a Chinese garden. But plant material isn't as important in a Chinese garden.
For More Information Click here

Rose Garden
We have saved the best for last. And that is a garden near and dear to Clair's heart - THE ROSE GARDEN. This is Clair's home away from home. The Rose Garden was built in 1908 for Mr. and Mrs. Huntington. It was built in those days just for the 2 of them. Today they deal with anywhere from 500,000 to 600,000 visitors a year. So they made some adaptions to the layout of the garden, they needed to find ways to open it up and make it a little more user friendly. It does still have an impressive collection of roses. They select roses for a number of criteria. They want roses from as many hybridizers as possible and roses that were important parents in the history of the rose and roses from as many countries as possible, all are included. Eric sees many rose gardens planted in straight rows. There is a lot more thought that has gone into this garden.
For More Information Click here

Origin of the Rose
Very few know exactly where the beautiful, highly refined rose came from. The roses today are hybrid tea's, bred for disease resistance and then shrub roses. But we forget about THEIR HUMBLE BEGINNINGS. So where did it begin? The Greeks and Romans grew roses. But their roses only bloomed in spring, they were like lilacs or peonies which are once blooming in the spring. But there is also a tradition of roses in China.
For More Information Click here

Green Rose
In fact Eric noticed a rose that has only green petals, very odd. THE GREEN ROSE they think was developed or found in Baltimore or Maryland around 1840 or 1850. It starts showing up in writings around that time. It's an odd rose because it doesn't have sexual parts. It cannot set seed, it has no way of reproducing itself. So, its totally dependent upon people taking cuttings and growing new plants.
For More Information Click here

Clair's Favorite Roses
Every rose planted here has a special place in Clair's heart. Some have performed particularly well. But Clair talks about several of his FAVORITE ROSES. Huntington's Hero is one. It was a sport from Hero an Austin Rose and it happened here on the grounds. The gardener and Clair found it, took cuttings and propagated it. Huntington's Hero is a lovely peachy apricot. The parent rose, Hero, is pink.
For More Information Click here

Tips For Growing Roses
Many shy away from growing roses because they view them as a fairly maintenance intensive plant. Clair thinks people overcomplicate GROWING ROSES. It's just basic horticulture. One needs sun, the more the better, 6 to 8 hours at least a day. Roses need a certain amount of irrigation, particularly during the growing season. But Clair thinks most people over fertilize their roses. Here they use a time release fertilizer that allows them to feed once every 3 to 4 months. They might put down 1 or 2 applications in the season.

For Tips on Rose care click here.

LINKS:

The Huntington Library, Art Collection and Botanical Garden

100 English Roses For The American Garden

100 Old Roses For The American Garden

Plant List

Show #49/1810. The Huntington Gardens

Transcript of Show

In this Episode GardenSMART visits one of the premier rose gardens in the U.S. We meet with it's legendary Rose Curator who shows us not only the rose garden but gardens that range from desert to the Orient.

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens was FOUNDED IN 1919 by Henry Huntington, an exceptional businessman who built an empire around railroads and real estate holdings in southern California. Henry Edwards Huntington was born in 1850 in New York. In 1872 he went to work for his uncle, Tollis B. Huntington, one of the owners of the Central Pacific Railroad. 20 years later Huntington moved to San Francisco at his uncle's request to share management of the Southern Pacific Railroad. In 1902 Huntington moved his business operations to Los Angeles where he greatly expanded existing railway lines creating an extensive inner urban system providing the transportation necessary to encourage population growth.

Huntington had varied business interests. His areas of concentration included water, power and land development. At one time he served on as many as 60 corporate boards in the U.S. In 1903 Henry Huntington purchased the San Marino Ranch. He and his superintendent, William Hendron, worked together to mold the working ranch into a botanical garden of rare and exotic plants. They visited local nurseries and other plant collectors in the area to find mature and unique specimens and they imported plants from many parts of the world to experiment with their cultivation in southern California.

The property, originally, nearly 600 acres, today covers 207 acres. More than 14,000 different varieties of plants are showcased in more than 1 dozen principal garden areas. 40 gardeners and more than 100 volunteers maintain the botanical collections. The Huntington provides interpretive programs for visitors and they propagate plants for special sales. More than a half million visitors from around the world enjoy The Huntington Library and Gardens each year. World renown for its art collection, library exhibitions and primarily, the exquisite gardens, it's a national treasure.

Eric next meets Clair, the Rose Curator at The Huntington Gardens. Eric has visited The Huntington often and the principal reason was to see the rose gardens. It's a tremendous honor to now meet the Rose Curator.

Clair was one of those people who learned horticulture the old fashioned way, he started digging in the family garden in Missouri where he grew up. Roses have always interested Clair and was attracted to the Huntington because of its historic rose collection. He first came here as a volunteer but they eventually offered him the job of Rose Curator. So, today he's at the top of his game in the world of roses, there aren't many positions like this available. Clair is a well known author, he has published 4 books. The 2 main books are - "One hundred English Roses for the American Garden" and "One Hundred Old Roses for the American Garden." Clair is obviously knowledgeable about roses but very knowledgeable about the rest of the gardens here, as well. He's been here 27 years and being a gardener has picked up quite a bit around these gardens. There are over 200 acres and inside that, 12 different discreet gardens. Clair thinks we should start in the Desert Garden.
Top

THE DESERT GARDEN is not only one of most lush succulent gardens Eric has seen but it certainly must be one of the largest. Clair believes it is probably one of the largest out-of-doors collections in the world. There may be larger collections but they would exist in small pots and greenhouses. This garden is about 12 acres and there are thousands of different plants and hundreds of different genera. It's quite a complex collection. Because of the density of the garden they do irrigate. In nature these plants would be spread out.
Top

With so many plants to choose from Clair narrows it down to several favorites and several that are rare. The GOLDEN BARREL CACTUS is one. Eric has never seen more than 2 or 3 Golden Barrel cactus in any garden. Clair thinks that there are actually more in this collection than exist in the wild in Mexico. Here they propagate them, they divide them, they're very protective of them. They photograph each one, they're all numbered and he believes that the gardeners even have a name for each one.

They look at Boojum Tree. It's found in 1 or 2 places in Mexico, one is the Baja Peninsula, the other mainland Mexico. When the 1st English explorers found these trees, that look like an upside-down carrot, they called them Boojum because the had no idea what they were, so used the name from a Lewis Carroll poem.

Eric noticed another unusual plant that he believes might be a cactus yet it had an elongated fruit and looked somewhat like a Prickly Pear. That was a Pereskia Rose Cactus. It is a primitive kind of cactus and evolved very early. It has leaves and stems, yet it's in the cactus family which can be determined by the flower's parts.
Top

They move on to look at THE COLLECTION OF CAMELLIAS. Again, they have an expansive collection. It's a spectacular garden with a tremendous variety of species. They have about 1,200 different kinds of Camellias and a large collection of species. Their main strength is the Japonica and Sasanquas. Japonica is a big tall grower with large flowers; the Sasanquas tend to be more compact growing and have smaller flowers. The Sasanquas bloom earlier and extend through the season while the Japonicas catch up about mid-season and their flowering ends around March. These plants, in the right environment, can get quite large. Some here are nearly trees. When one doesn't have cold weather to kill them back they can get very large. In some of the colder regions Camellias will normally only last a limited number of years, a ten-year freeze will typically get them. But here they don't have that pressure thus they have some old specimens. Probably the oldest on the property is Pink Perfection. Records show it was here when Mr. Huntington bought the property and that was 1903, so it is well over 100 years old. When they achieve that age there's a whole other layer and texture to the plant, the bark and the trunk structure are the most apparent. Gardeners here do thin them out and prune them a bit. But they're not pruned like the roses, just trimmed back a bit. When thinking of this garden it's hard to underestimate the value of evergreen foliage. Camellias are wonderful because they have broad glossy leaves. When planning your garden one must think about those times of year when there's not going to be anything in bloom. Evergreens are a wonderful season extender, they provide that year-round splash of green keeping the garden from looking like a dormant patch of brown. And, there's such variety with Camellias. There are so many named varieties they give the gardener a lot to work with. Another advantage is they flower in the winter, which is a hard thing to find in a garden. Hellebores might be one but there are only a handful of winter blooming plants. Camellias are probably the best at providing color in the winter. It's a hard plant to beat as far as year-round impact.
Top

Eric likes the fact that The Huntington has not only different gardens but each one is unique. The next garden is a great example, it is a JAPANESE or Asian garden. The difference between a Japanese garden and an American garden or traditional western garden is the Western garden is based on very old style European gardening which is right angles, long straight lines, viewpoints, vistas at the end, that kind of thing. Whereas in a Japanese garden it's all about surprise, coming around the corner and seeing something spectacularly beautiful. The Japanese garden is more about the textures of the leaves, the foliage, the shades of green, the colors of the foliage. There are some flowering plants. Oftentimes they will have Camellias or Azaleas, but they're controlled and subdued. The Japanese garden is about tranquility. Hardscapes and water are important in a Japanese garden, in fact they're paramount. The idea is if there isn't a natural water feature in the garden they create one somehow. If a landscape with sand, they install a little water bubbler or something like that. This is one of the oldest gardens at the Huntington but the newest garden is nearby.
Top

The next garden is THE CHINESE GARDEN. The principal difference between the Japanese garden and the Chinese garden is subtle but the Chinese garden is typically larger scale. The Chinese garden is less cerebral than a Japanese garden. It's more about space. The Chinese have a larger country, thus more space to devote. They tend to live more in the garden. They use a lot of boulders. The Huntington imported these boulders from China, the plants were grown locally. But, they are authentic, the kinds of plants one would find in a Chinese garden. But plant material isn't as important in a Chinese garden. Chinese gardens are more about the walkways, the bridges, that kind of thing. With plants there don't seem to be any rules in Chinese gardens. It's whatever looks interesting. But with a Japanese garden it's about using Japanese material.

Eric notices a lot of craftsmanship in the building, a lot of fine point details. Eric has seen very few Chinese gardens, in fact most have been through photographs. But he is taken by the attention to detail and the authenticity. Clair believes the detail and craftsmanship came about because the Huntington brought over a crew of Chinese workers, artisans who put this together. Their eye was so much more refined for this kind of garden. Much more so than our eye would have been. It's important in Chinese gardening to have a lot of detail, a lot of varied structures in the garden. The hardscapes are more important than anything else. The zigzag walkways, the beautifully carved pavilions, the Ginkgo wood structures and the art pieces, all are indicative of a Chinese garden. The round doorways and the use of rock is so much different than anything we would have conceived. A lot of the work appears to be excruciating handwork. The patio is an example. The people that did this, broke the patio tiles and the roofing tiles, then laid them in. They laid the stones on end, instead of flat like we would do. It's really a labor of love.

This garden is a work in progress, this garden has only been in place for several years. The next phase will be to the north end of the garden which will include the residential complex which in this case won't be used for homes, rather for special events, floral displays, that kind of thing. It's a stunning garden.
Top

We have saved the best for last. And that is a garden near and dear to Clair's heart - THE ROSE GARDEN. This is Clair's home away from home. The Rose Garden was built in 1908 for Mr. and Mrs. Huntington. It was built in those days just for the 2 of them. Today they deal with anywhere from 500,000 to 600,000 visitors a year. So they made some adaptions to the layout of the garden, they needed to find ways to open it up and make it a little more user friendly. It does still have an impressive collection of roses. They select roses for a number of criteria. They want roses from as many hybridizers as possible and roses that were important parents in the history of the rose and roses from as many countries as possible, all are included. Eric sees many rose gardens planted in straight rows. There is a lot more thought that has gone into this garden. One of the things they wanted to accomplish was to make it a bit more historical, to show the widest variety of roses they could, from all periods of roses. From Roman times right up to modern hybrids that one could find in a local nursery. By moving around one can see the history of the rose. But they've also made the decision to only have 1 or 2, at the most, of each rose in the collection. There are about 1,200 roses in this collection.
Top

Very few know exactly where the beautiful, highly refined rose came from. The roses today are hybrid tea's, bred for disease resistance and then shrub roses. But we forget about THEIR HUMBLE BEGINNINGS. So where did it begin? The Greeks and Romans grew roses. But their roses only bloomed in spring, they were like lilacs or peonies which are once blooming in the spring. But there is also a tradition of roses in China. The Chinese roses differed in one aspect. They were repeat bloomers. Whereas the old European roses only bloom once, like the lilac or peony. When the 2 were brought together in Europe in the 19th century, all our modern repeat blooming roses were created. One of the roses grown here, Slater's Crimson China, is the parent of all modern red repeat blooming roses.

Years ago they had an exhibit called "La Rose Imperial" in which they traced the parentage of a modern rose all the way back to Slater's Crimson China. The Complexity of it was amazing. But one could clearly see that Slater's Crimson China brought in both the color red and the repeat blooming characteristic.

This garden has a natural feel. It's not manicured the way many other rose gardens might be. One reason is the Tea's in China really want to grow to the size they will grow. Hybrid Teas tend to be very upright and very standard sized. The roses are a bit big and floppy. It's part of Clair's outreach to show people how they grow.
Top

There is a lot of history in this garden. In fact Eric noticed a rose that has only green petals, very odd. THE GREEN ROSE they think was developed or found in Baltimore or Maryland around 1840 or 1850. It starts showing up in writings around that time. It's an odd rose because it doesn't have sexual parts. It cannot set seed, it has no way of reproducing itself. So, its totally dependent upon people taking cuttings and growing new plants. Eric thinks it's wonderful that they've captured the story of the rose and its history in this garden.
Top

Every rose planted here has a special place in Clair's heart. Some have performed particularly well. But Clair talks about several of his FAVORITE ROSES. Huntington's Hero is one. It was a sport from Hero an Austin Rose and it happened here on the grounds. The gardener and Clair found it, took cuttings and propagated it. Huntington's Hero is a lovely peachy apricot. The parent rose, Hero, is pink.

Clair has an affinity for the Austin Roses. Tamora is another favorite. It is apricot but a more orangey apricot. It is a favorite because it has a unique fragrance. Another favorite is Gertrude Jekyll. It is a big grower, will grow to over 12 feet tall, although it only grows to about 4 feet in England. Its fragrance is amazing, one of the most fragrant roses one can grow.
Top

Many shy away from growing roses because they view them as a fairly maintenance intensive plant. Clair thinks people overcomplicate GROWING ROSES. It's just basic horticulture. One needs sun, the more the better, 6 to 8 hours at least a day. Roses need a certain amount of irrigation, particularly during the growing season. But Clair thinks most people over fertilize their roses. Here they use a time release fertilizer that allows them to feed once every 3 to 4 months. They might put down 1 or 2 applications in the season. And they continue to bloom and do well. Another point - Over fertilizing roses produces too much vegetated growth and you won't get the same quality bloom. Insects like the softer tissue so they're more likely to attack plants that have been over fertilized. So, it's really better to cut back fertilization a little bit.

They look at a stand of roses. Eric can see how pruning could be intimidating. Clair confesses last winter in consideration of the time available they took power shears to the bed of roses. Now, this isn't the way it's supposed to be done. But they took standard power shears and cut them back to about 3 feet. One variety in the center they left a little taller. But they caught up to each other and both look great. So, don't over think it.

Insect and disease can be the bane of the rose gardener. In this area of the country they don't have a lot of problems with disease. But they do get insects in the spring. Aphids can be a problem but they just hose them off and knock them dead. They haven't sprayed this garden in 15 or 20 years. They use very few fungicides. The climate definitely helps.

For Tips on Rose care click here.

One huge factor effecting rose gardening has much to do with making the right selection. Selection is a key element in growing roses. Or really, any plant. In the case of roses, talk with your neighbors, find out what grows well for them, talk with a local rose society or go to a nurseryman. Now they will try to seduce you and sell you the most beautiful new thing but get information. That is the key to growing the best roses. Roses can be temperamental plants and climate does play a critical role. Whether it's humid or dry, makes a big impact. In Eric's east coast garden he's been seduced by the giant double west coast flowering English roses. They don't perform that well, they're susceptible to black spot. Also, Aphids and Japanese beetles are problematic. But to avoid these type problems he's moved in the direction of the Knockout roses. They are disease resistant plants and mitigate a lot of these problems. For Clair in the west the Knockout is not as popular because it gets mildew here, but that's not as big a problem in the east. Other than Rainbow Knockout, which is a very nice selection, not many grow Knockout's here. People still like their big double roses that don't do well on the east coast. So, selecting a rose for your area is very important.

Eric thanks Clair for the tour. His passion for gardening is evident. And, the Huntington is truly a wonderful garden.

LINKS:

The Huntington Library, Art Collection and Botanical Garden

100 English Roses For The American Garden

100 Old Roses For The American Garden

Plant List

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