The Arboretum vs. the Huntington

2 Aug

Yesterday we went for a walk at the Arboretum–in Arcadia just across the street from the Santa Anita Racetrack. It’s just a lovely place to visit and see all those spectacular plantings–from the days when the fat cat philanthropists wanted to show off their wealth and property by growing as many plants from around the world that would grow in this wonderful climate. LOTS of Australian natives, that’s for sure!

It got me reminiscing about visiting when I was a kid, and why the Arboretum was the place we always went–only RARELY did we go to the Huntington Gardens, which were not much further away. My dad the horticulturalist always brought along a pocket of rootone (! or its 1950s equivalent) and took cuttings from plants he liked! The Arboretum was a county facility, so it may have even been free back in those salad days. The Huntington, on the other hand, was always considered snooty and not for the likes of us–my dad was very surreptitious about taking cuttings when we were there!
The photo is from a 1961 visit to the Arboretum, when Lloyd Bridges was filming “Sea Hunt” in the Tropical Jungle garden! He actually went into the murky waters of the tropical jungle pond that was supposed to be South America. My mother was thrilled to be there! (She always took lousy photographs, though.) This kind of thing happened fairly often in SoCal in those days, when TV shows were still all made in Hollywood, and local places served as the backdrops for a variety of locales. There was something very middle class and home-town about it all then. The Arboretum was our place, the people’s place. The Huntington was not.

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