Summer Series: The Desert Garden

1 minute read

The Huntington Botanical Gardens Summer Series

The Desert Garden

This Summer Series explores some of my favorites gardens. Today let’s discover the Desert Garden.

The 10 acre Desert Garden was created in 1907-1908. With more than 2,000 species, it is one of the largest and oldest succulents, desert plants, and cacti gardens in the world.

Back in the 1900s, landscape gardener William Hertrich convinced Henry Huntington to start a Desert Garden. The former traveled in the Americas to acquire various species. Some plants didn’t survive the Californian climate but many others have grown well over the years.

Stroll the “Heritage Walk” to discover some of the oldest acquisitions.

Did you know?

Pachypodium horombense is the oldest plant in the Desert Garden. It was collected in 1928 in Madagascar.

Fun fact: Disney cartoon with cactus inspired Gary Lyons, former Desert curator, to study plants.

Plants growing in the desert climate developed strategies to deal with low precipitation, predators, and temperatures. One of the core elements is their sharp structure: spines, thorns, and prickles.

  • Spines are derived from leaves
  • Thorns from stem
  • Prickles are from dermal tissue

Spinescent plants developed spines structure to reduce water loss and to protect themselves.

Did you know?

Albert Einstein visited the Desert Garden in the 1930s.

Ready to explore the Desert Garden?

*COVD-19 update as of November 2020*

  1. Online reservation required (every other Tuesday at noon).
  2. The gardens are open and the galleries remained closed.
  3. All visitors must respect health and safety protocols.


  • Location: The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, 1151 Oxford Rd, San Marino, CA 91108
  • Hours: 10am-5pm. Closed on Tuesday. Summer evening walks: 4:30 pm- 7pm.
  • Admission: $25 on weekdays and $29 on weekend for adults.
  • Duration: from 2 hours to the day
  • Parking: Free on-site lot
  • You can’t bring food inside but the Café provides dining options
  • More information available at

Article based on my visits in 2019 and 2020

If you enjoyed this post, please leave a comment and share it with a traveler visiting Los Angeles.

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