Category Archives: gardening

Week Two: El Niño Report from the Huntington Botanical Gardens

Another week of “rain watch” at the Huntington Botanical Gardens. It’s raining tonight in the Bay Area, so I’ll take delight in that.  I’d probably be disappointed in the poor Southern California showing, but walking the beautiful gardens and enjoying the warmth and sunshine wasn’t too hard to take!

The colors were calling me!

I have so many areas in my home garden just begging for some serious attention.  My goal in times of extreme water shortage has been focused on keeping things alive. Goals beyond that have been limited.

As I walk the Huntington grounds I take notes on what catches my eye and think about what might translate well to give my personal garden a fresh face.


This “orange in January” beauty really impressed me. Leonotis menthifolia, sometimes called Mint Lion’s Ear, is drought tolerant and a perennial in our climate. While I studied the flowers I got a nice surprise.

Discovering this showy plant is also a pollinator definitely inspires me to learn more.

In the summer months I first noticed this Chondropetalum elephantinum.


This is a rush like plant from South Africa with papery bracts at each joint. In the summertime they took on a spectacular copper color. It’s also drought tolerant and I was pleased to see that it is still quite pretty in January. It grows 4-6 feet upright and would be a tremendous backdrop to some of my other plants.

I found one more succulent I will need to add to my growing collection.


I have many Echeveria, but I do not have this striking red-edged Echeveria subrigida. It’s common name is “Fire and Ice” and whether staged as a single rosette in a pot or massed together for a larger spread of color, the result would be dramatic and appealing.

Enough dreaming about making garden changes. It’s still only January, and I am going to need to do a lot of garden bed preparation before I bring any new plants home.

Time to walk over to one of my very favorite areas– the Chinese Garden. There is so much I could tell you about this beautiful spot, but today I will just share a little of the view.


It’s such a peaceful and contemplative spot. Do you see the massive clump of lotus pods in the bottom corner of the photo? These will be beautiful in the spring, but like them in their pod state.



These photos represent a fraction of the space dedicated to the Chinese garden, but since it’s one of my favorite places to just sit and drink a cup of tea, I know I’ll share more throughout this year.

I think this winter garden is one where the seasonal changes are more evident. Today I noticed the numerous deciduous trees and even the shrubs looked a little bare. The water features and beautiful architectural detail were the focal point and it was truly tranquil.

I’ll be back to the Huntington Botanical Garden next week…rain or shine! I’ll have to think about what area to share next.


Walking in a garden is one way I shake off stress. Do you have a favorite public or private garden where you can always access a sense of calm? Maybe your own garden is where you recharge your batteries.

If it’s too cold in your area to consider walking in a garden, magazines and seed catalogs can be relaxing while you plan for spring. Whatever your preference, do find some time to exhale and breathe lighter–isn’t that the purpose of a weekend?

I would enjoy hearing about your plans to “de-stressify,” so do share!