Surprise! Petula got invited to present at the 14th Annual Plant Nerd Night in Portland on March 6th. Radio host, Mike Darcy, called us to ask if we could bring something a little different to the event, something to shock and awe the discerning plant nerds of Portland. A daunting task? YES. But we were SO EXCITED to take on the challenge. We sprung into action.
So, the last week of February, I hopped a flight to California. My objectives:
Get in, get out.
Pull what’s awesome.
Bring a taste of the world of Petula back home to everyone in the NW.
Squeeze in a visit to the Huntington for Nerd Night visuals.
I left Seattle on a sunny Sunday morning and landed in L.A. rain. It’s hard to be sad about rain in California though, they need it so desperately. Everyone I talked to was happy to see it. ‘Delirious’ may even be a better word to describe their enthusiasm.
I was in a rush to get my bag and get up to San Marino to see at least a part of the Huntington Botanical Gardens. I nearly walked into the lead singers of the band Little Big Town, also in L.A. waiting for their bags. I’m sorry that I didn’t take a photo of them at baggage claim, but no time for country music stars today; like a true plant nerd, I needed to save all of my shots for the Huntington!
I crawled through wet L.A. and Oscar-night traffic, and I got to the Huntington about an hour before it closed (no time for movie stars today either).
Plant nerds: Welcome to the Promised Land!
Being from the Great Northwest, I opted to forgo the use of an umbrella. You know, show how ‘Seattle-tough’ I was. Mistake #1. I got soaked as I raced around the Desert Garden. (Mistake #2: thinking this trip to ‘sunny’ CA would be the perfect place to try out my new suede boots. Squish, squish, squish….)
I wish the vibrancy of color could have translated better to show you this fireworks display of Agave attenuata ‘Huntington Blue’ and Aeonium x ‘Jack Catlin’, both in bloom.
The Huntington’s Desert Garden is absolutely magnificent! Bigger than I expected. It’s jam-packed full of plant wonders, cacti and succulents of all colors and textures. Overwhelming. My heart was racing!
What a treat to have it nearly to myself, and to see it in the fading light and mists (read: downpour) of rain.
You can wind through the garden on paved paths. Every new curve offers a breathtakingly beautiful vista.
If you go, try to remember to turn around and see the view behind you, because it’s succulent overload all around! Knolls of Aloe, Echeveria, and Euphorbia give way to Echinocactus, Cleistocactus, Puya, and Agave, as you venture deeper into the garden.
Here’s an awesome hydra-shaped specimen of Dracaena draco–a perfect form that it gives life to its name.
How beautiful to see these dry garden plants with rivulets of water running down their smooth, spiny, and furry surfaces! Check out the rain-glossed rubbery leaves of Aeonium.
Another treat of the Huntington is that it’s a living garden for wildlife, full of birds that sing and dart amid the sprawling arms of enormous live oaks and a bulbous, spiked silk floss tree.
Aloe tree (Aloe barberae)
At one point when you visit, you will hit the section of golden barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii) and Agave parryi. The neon yellows and tequila blues are such a fantastic color combination and the section is laden with gorgeous, large specimens. Take a look a these pictures–what more can I say?!
Well, time was up too quickly and off I had to go. I was so thrilled with visiting this garden, which is just a tiny piece of the huge Huntington Estate. The next time Petula brings a group to California, we will definitely make this a stop!
We’ve been busy bringing the world of Petula back home. Stay tuned for a field report from San Marcos Growers and Monterey Bay Nursery, plus a recap of PDX Plant Nerd Night….