Tag Archives: Huntington Library

“A garden is a thing of beauty and a job forever.”

My garden gets very confused this time of year. So do I. Is it fall or summer?  Temperatures can be misleading.
I hate pulling up flowers still enjoying the sunshine, but these old-fashioned zinnias have been going to seed for at least six weeks, as evidenced by all these little seedlings shooting up despite the shorter days.The soil doesn’t  seem to know summer is over!

 
Just a month ago the zinnias were bright and cheerful, attracting butterflies. I was hoping for Monarchs, but I am happy to welcome any passersby.
Before I brutally ripped the zinnias from their nice warm bed, I salvaged as many seed heads as I thought reasonable, and they can make another appearance in the spring.
But there’s a lot of garden management between now and spring.
British actor Richard Briers said, “A garden is a thing of beauty and a job forever.” 
That’s certainly my observation, also, and this time of year I typically lag in gardening interest.
However, fellow bloggers, especially garden enthusiasts, often provide inspiration at just the right time.
If you haven’t yet met, Kevin, let me introduce you to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Man, and “The incredibly true misadventures of a home gardener. “
The NGDM opened his September 18th blog post with the statement, “At this time of year, as the garden tumbles into autumn colors in preparation for its winter sleep, it’s difficult to not search out garden photos — whether of my own garden, the gardens of other bloggers, or especially gardens of the past.”
And that was the advice I needed to hear to get me motivated, too.
I was the lucky recipient of a recent giveaway following NGDM’s  interview of Caroline Ikin, author of an exceptionally well-researched book titled, “The Victorian Garden.”
Victorian Garden Book
This lovely book is full of archival photos and historically rich documentation thoroughly detailing the development of Victorian garden style and artistry, chronicling the shift from structured gardens once exclusive to wealthy estate owners than later influencing the less ostentatious home garden in local towns and villages.
The book follows the history of the Victorian garden from the original formal British structured layouts and includes fascinating information about a later development termed “wild gardening,” a more natural style in response to formal bedding systems.
This book offers so much rich information that although my personal gardening taste is shifting away from formality and isn’t directly patterned with Victorian influences, I was still captivated by the history, and looking at the photos, I couldn’t help but compare many of the British garden estates to some of the grand homes and gardens I admire along Orange Grove Boulevard, in Pasadena, once called Millionaire’s Row.
Many of the early 20th century landmark mansions that line Orange Grove, the starting route for the famed New Year’s Rose Parade, stand as examples of Victorian grandeur, with huge expanses of lawn, very formal gardens, exquisite topiary and garden ornamentation.
Pasadena is often referred to as “Rose City,” particularly due to the historic Rose Parade, but roses, as you might guess, are hardly native to Southern California. So many of the grand estates included very large rose collections in an attempt to follow the fashion of Victorian England. 
Evidence of Victorian garden splendor is abundant in the San Gabriel Valley, despite water shortages and a gradual shift towards native plants and flowers
Another avid rose collector, railroad magnate Henry Huntington, boasted a wealth of beautiful roses on his personal estate.
I  make frequent visits to the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Garden as a study, and also to lap up the beauty and come home with a little bit of inspiration. Maybe I also enjoy the feeling of luxury and a by-gone era.
The roses are a little sad this time of year, but the gardens are still blooming with soft autumn color.

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You may notice that Southern California’s shades of Autumn are more subtle than in other parts of the country. But one color we don’t see is “snow-white.” So I still have several gardening months ahead of me before we move to the splendors of spring.
Thank you, Kevin. I will continue to enjoy “The Victorian Garden” and I’ll be particularly interested in visiting the grand botanical gardens again, looking for Victorian detail I have probably overlooked in the past. 
One more quote: “Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh how beautiful’ and sitting in the shade.” Rudyard Kipling
Yep! There’s a lot of work left to do.
I’m still sensing that I’ll need all the inspiration I can possibly find!