Saturday, December 19, 2009

Exploring Pasadena

Old Pasadena and some of the Rose Bowl prep.
Richard and Valerie
Desert Garden with a Dr. Seuss-like tree in the middle.
Pavilions in the Chinese Garden.
The Japanese Garden
A few of the incredible bonsai trees.
Bonsai Forests
The rare sight of a perched hummingbird.
Some of the many flowers blooming in December.

Our friends Valerie and Richard Frayer, who are also going to the Rose Parade, have arrived early and we have been exploring the LA area together. One afternoon we drove to Pasadena to explore "Old Pasadena". It is a well preserved downtown with old buildings, many of which are art deco, that are still being used as retail stores. Unfortunately, it is really just an urban mall with all the usual chain stores you find in any mall in America and not the local businesses and antique stores we were expecting. There was one great Christmas store that filled an entire block and was the biggest I have ever seen. All that said, since we only window shopped, we just enjoyed walking the streets and checking things out. As we drove down Colorado Avenue there was quite a lot of evidence of Rose Parade and Bowl Game preparations. It helped increase our excitement as we look forward to attending the parade.

What really made the trip to Pasadena worthwhile was the visit to The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens. The Huntington is on the property of railroad tycoon Henry Huntington. The hours of operation are from noon to 4:30 which is not nearly enough time to see it all so we chose to spend our time in the gardens and it was well worth it. We toured several of the fourteen theme gardens starting with the Desert garden where they have dry climate plants from around the world. Seeing them all in one place gives you a real appreciation of natures diversity. Many times we commented on feeling like we were in prehistoric times or in the land of Dr. Seuss because some of the plants were so huge and strange looking. We were not able to see the Australian Garden because it was being used as a movie set. The Huntington has become a popular site for filming with scenes from Anger Management, Serenity, CSI:NY and The West Wing being shot there. We could see the set in the distance but did not see any stars. The Garden of Flowing Fragrance, Liu Fang Yuan, is a Chinese garden which has the traditional natural sylvan of undisturbed woods as a background that surrounds the lake, bridges, pavilions, courts and plants. The pavilions represent freshwater, jade, lotus, the three friends and washing away thoughts. The bridges are named Verdant Mist, Jade Ribbon, Joy of Fish and Strolling in the Moonlight. The Camellia and Rose gardens have a large number of blooming plants which filled the air with a wonderful aroma as we strolled the paths. A highlight for us was the Japanese Garden which is one of the oldest in America. It has a traditional home, pagodas, a rock and stone courtyard and water running among the plants. The high point was the bonsai exhibit with tiny evergreens and deciduous trees arranged in displays of individual trees and forests. Many years ago we "tried" to grow a small bonsai and could just never seem to keep it alive so we have a real appreciation of this ancient art of growing and shaping these beautiful plants. We enjoyed the gardens because as native Pennsylvanians we are not used to seeing gardens in bloom in the winter months. This was a real treat.

1 comment:

MarkandRenita said...

Nice Hummingbird! The gardens do sound like fun but the mall sounds like torture.