DescriptionThe Huntington Botanical Garden was named an International Camellia Garden of Excellence in 2001 by the International Camellia Society because it has one of the most comprehensive collections of camellias in North America. There are 60 species and 1,200 cultivars beautifully planted along pathways on both sides of the North Vista and on the North Canyon slopes.
When Henry Huntington bought this Southern California estate in 1903 there was only japonica ‘Pink Perfection’ in the North Vista. It is now joined by a collection of reticulata growing under the canopy of coast live oaks in an area known as Reticulata Knoll, which includes specimens from the 1948 shipment of reticulata from China to America as well as many new reticulata hybrids.
West of the North vista is Elegans Lane, where a chart explains the process of mutation and shows the family lineage of the thirteen Elegans sports. Each sport is well represented by several mature specimens.
In 1994 as a tribute to The Huntington’s seventy-fifth anniversary, Nuccio’s Nursery introduced a large to very large rich pink semi-double flower which they named ‘Henry E. Huntington’. It is growing in a bed on the west side of the world-famous Huntington Library.
Sasanqua camellias are also well represented many growing on a hill side next to the Chinese Garden. The Garden of Flowering Fragrance was opened in 2008 as a recreation of a Ming Dynasty “scholar garden’. It is the largest traditional Chinese Garden in the United States. The landscape revolves around plants common to China and Southern California: willows, flowering fruit trees, bamboo, and black pine. Camellias are well represented. A mixture of old and new camellia varietals are planted in shady garden nooks. Camellias are carved in the wood of the teahouse, named the “Hall of the Jade Camellia”.
The North Canyon is directly behind the Japanese Garden. Henry Huntington purchased and installed the Japanese House in 1913 as the cornerstone of the Japanese Garden. The Japanese garden is well landscaped with camellias and features a koi pond, lotus plants, and an authentic Japanese moon bridge. The Huntington has improved this garden by adding a Japanese tea house and enlarging the bonsai collection.
A visit to the Huntington Library, Art Collection, and Botanical Gardens is worthwhile anytime of the year. There are fourteen different gardens. The most recent are the Children’s and Chinese Gardens. The rose garden is in bloom during the summer months.
The Library has a collection of rare and important books including a Gutenberg bible, first editions of Linnaeus, Darwin, and Audubon’s bird portfolio. The art collection has an extensive collection of British portraits that includes Lawrence’s’ Pinky and Gainesboro’s’ Blue Boy. American art is built on the current collection which includes Hopper, Gilbert Stewart, and a dining room by Green and Green to illustrate the American Craft movement. The Huntington has something for everyone. However, the camellia blooming season is a camellia lover’s dream. The Southern California Camellia Society has an American Camellia Society cooperative camellia show the second weekend of February every year.
-Story contributed by Bradford K.