Friday, January 27, 2012

Pasadena in January

This past weekend, we flew to Pasadena. That sounds rather blithe, but this family reunion to honor my late mother-in-law had been planned for over a year. I'll be posting about other parts of the weekend, but I'm beginning in reverse with our last day: Monday was very wet and our plans to visit the Huntington Gardens were ditched in favor of exploring some public buildings in Pasadena.

The Mulch Man was interested in finding out more about any structural damage from a freak high wind event that happened there in November and arranged to talk to a City of Pasadena building official. Afterward we wandered over to the main building of the Pasadena Library.

The lovely old building was somewhat marred by this unattractive orange mesh, apparently protecting people from falling into the ongoing fountain repair project.

The main Pasadena library has a feel something like the downtown Portland main library, and it's probably about the same age. Inside, along with a wonderful children's library, we found the Pasadena Centennial Room, a reference room devoted to publications specific to California and Pasadena.

Of course, I made a beeline for the horticulture books.

That tiny field guide in the center is from 1911. It had some beautiful drawings, but I wasn't permitted to photograph them.

There were other great titles: I was surprised to read about the large number of Opuntia species endemic to Southern California in California Cactus.  The Mulch Man discovered a book on wild food by an old school friend, Chris Nyerges, in the collection. And I didn't even get inside Big Trees of California.

The large room was full of readers, but I wasn't allowed to photograph people, either, so these shots are necessarily limited.

Leaving the library through the courtyard, I enjoyed the potted plants (Dasylirion?) and a big planting of the irrepressible Bird of Paradise.

Across from the library was a bed of Agave attenuata, one plant of which had a huge, arching bloom.

As we walked back toward the car, we saw what I assumed to be evidence of the wind damage from November. The bloom stalk on this Agave americana (variegata?) was broken, although its companion's was intact. Maybe the second one came up after the windstorm.

Further down the street, branches that had fallen out of trees were still languishing over the plantings.

The size of these plantings is hard to tell from my pictures, but some of the Agave americana were over eight feet high.

I just love the huge, ropey arms on these big guys.

 Here's a sight that made my heart beat faster: an entire planter filled with Agave truncata! (correction: Agave parryi var truncata ... had a brain fade there.)

And here's a lovely couple. I'm guessing from the the empty bottle in the picture below and the weedy, messy state of most of the beds that the City of Pasadena is dealing with some of the same economic issues that Portland is experiencing. Maintenance certainly appeared to be taking a back seat to other priorities.

The view back to the happy twosome along the Agave truncata planter. That's quite a bloom stalk that Agave americana is sporting.

Check out this planter full of aloes!

Some were blooming, oblivious to the wet weather. Do want!

I think that gorgeous orange is a dead ringer for Tangerine Tango, Pantone's recently announced Color of the Year for 2012.  It's certainly my idea of perfection.


  1. WOW! You really know how to brighten up someones foggy (cold) Saturday morning. Great pictures Jane, thank you.

    1. At least the day brightened up, Loree. I hope you enjoyed the sunshine that afternoon!

  2. I love beautiful old that would have been right up my alley :-) Can't believe they haven't at least removed the downed branches from those beds yet...crazy!

    1. Scott, I was pretty surprised, but there had been downed trees all over the city they had to deal with and we saw lots of piles of chipped wood everywhere, so I think it was even now straining their limited resources.

  3. So you hit the one (of two) rainy days we've had this month?!?!. But lovely photos anyway. I love Pasadena (just not in the summer when it's 30 degrees hotter than it is at my house). If you ever get the chance to go to the Gamble House, that's a fabulous place.

    yes I think that is Dasylirion wheeleri in the pot.

    1. Yes, rain in Pasadena - what's up with that? Have seen and love the Gamble House, Hoover. Thanks for the species confirmation: it's now another for my want-list.

  4. Where are the volunteers? About one day every other week when I take my walk on our road I carry a plastic bag and pick up the debris. Occasionally, I see others doing the same. Which of course begs the question: why are folks throwing trash on the road in the first place?
    These shots are so great that they rise above any such distractions.

  5. Great photos. I love the antique building and all its charms.

  6. I probably get to Pasadena as often as you do! I'm always surprised by their stately civic buildings. And just heard yesterday there's going to be an investigation into the slow response by utilities to power outage from those winds. Your photos show a shocking state of disarray, but from what I've heard Pasadena had so much damage that this probably counts as a minor concern, aka an eyesore vs. a public hazard.


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