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The Huntington Desert Garden, San Marino

5.0
#150 of 383 in Nature in California
Desert Garden
The Huntington Desert Garden is part of The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California. The Desert Garden is one of the world's largest and oldest collections of cacti, succulents and other desert plants, collected from throughout the world. It contains plants from extreme environments, many of which were acquired by Henry E. Huntington and William Hertrich (the first garden curator) in trips taken to several countries in North, Central and South America. One of the Huntington’s most botanically important gardens, the Desert Garden brought together a group of plants largely unknown and unappreciated in the beginning of the 1900s. Containing a broad category of xerophytes (aridity-adapted plants), the Desert Garden grew to preeminence and remains today among the world’s finest, with more than 5,000 species in the 10 acre (4 ha) garden.Mr. Huntington was not initially interested in establishing a Desert Garden. He did not like cacti at all, due to some unfortunate prickly pear encounters during railroad construction work. But Hertrich was persistent, and, once won over, Mr. Huntington built a railway spur to his garden, to bring in rock, soil and plants by the carload. As Gary Lyons, a later curator, remarked, it's very convenient to have a rail spur, and deep pockets, when you're building a big garden. A trip to Arizona in 1908 filled three railroad cars for the trip back to the garden.
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  • The great variety and maturity of plants is outstanding and probably not equaled in the whole world. The collection has been carefully tended to for one hundred years. The desert shade house has a stu...  more »
  • An amazing collection of desert plants that are well identified with markers. The arrangement of plants is excellent; you feel like you are out in the desert.  more »
  • One of the best gardens I've ever seen. Wandered around with my jaw open in awe of the plants on display. Neat, tidy and we'll labeled, this should not be missed.  more »