Friday, May 3, 2013

California Dreaming, Part 1: Arlington Garden

Last month we went south to California to visit family and do some sightseeing. Our first weekend was spent with my brother- and sister-in-law in Altadena (I showed their garden here a couple of years ago.)

Susan and Seth understand that I'm a horthead, and even better, they cunningly plot to feed my plant lust, so on Saturday, they introduced me to a fascinating newer garden near them in Pasadena, - Arlington Garden.
Except for a few trees, this three-acre garden is only about eight years old. Situated on a lot formerly occupied by one of Pasadena's "Millionaires' Row" mansions, it's the product of many cooperating public entities, and two visionary and tireless private citizens.

Though the garden has been carefully planned out, there's no manicured perfection here. Its main purpose is to demonstrate water-wise gardening, so its style is loose and delightfully down to earth. Birds, bees and butterflies love this garden.
Paths of decomposed granite lead through many of the areas, and salvaged concrete is used to construct walls and beds. Garden art seems to involve the creative re-purposing of tools.
There were several areas using plants from other low-water parts of the world, like these in the  Australia section. I just wish there had been markers with the plant names.

 At the entrance to the olive allee, this metal gateway held succulents in simple terracotta pots.

It was a hot day, and the beautiful olives cast inviting shade.

Rows of lavender enhance the Mediterranean look of this area.

As you might imagine, succulents and agaves feature prominently throughout the garden.

Part of the garden is planted in rows of orange trees, as they were in California's earlier days. Seeing these took me back to my childhood.
As a fundraiser, marmalade made from their oranges is sold in the garden and online. If we'd arrived a little earlier, I'd have taken home a souvenir jar. I still might get online and order some.

A labyrinth occupies one area of the garden near the orange grove.

Shady seating areas abound.

Of course, cool plants are everywhere.

Water dripped slowly into this bowl via a tiny tube that had been run up into an adjacent tree and positioned directly over the bowl.
Above us, one bird had figured out how to avoid the people below by drinking straight from the dripper end.
A xeric water feature - with absolutely no water!
 This area features plants of the Baja California Scrub.

I don't know what this is, but I LIKE it!

As we left the garden through the lower gate, I looked back along the street side.
Arlington Garden is open from dawn to dusk, 365 days a year, and it's free. It's a fabulous alternative garden between the mostly expensive and expansive water-dependent residential properties that surround it, and a beautiful place to spend an hour or two.


  1. What an awsome garden! Love the waterless fountain!

  2. How nice to have friends who pander to our obsessions. These photos will be especially nice to revisit on one of our drippier days.

  3. I seriously want the rusty arbor with the shelves for pots. And those watering nozzles are hilarious. The plants are amazing. Those spiky things with the yellow flowers that look like Eremurus--wowzers! The second to the last one looks like a Grevillea of some kind. The foliage is way cool. Makes me really want an Agave attenuata. Great photos! You must have had a great time.

  4. That water nozzle sculpture is kind of awesome :-)

  5. What a great garden! I really enjoyed this post. I'm so jealous that you have relatives who understand and feed your hortheadedness.

  6. Wonderful post! I am so amazed by the size of the agaves. Up here those that grow them are lucky to have them get 1/6th of that size! I think the whole concept of the garden is cool. Teach people to grow what naturally does best in the climate that is there. I loved the loose and casual feel of the gardens too. Cheers, Jenni

  7. Free is the best price (more money to spend on plants), i will have to check this out next time I'm down that way.

    The mystery plant that you liked is a Grevillea (you probably knew that) and I feel like I should know which one but I can't think of it! Lovely though...

  8. What a great concept for a garden!

  9. It was so hot today I could almost imagine myself in the garden in your photos. I think I need some iced tea. Lovely! I see a lot of plants that the outlaw gardener and danger gardens must be lusting after or already grow.;-)

  10. Simply beautiful colours...lovely!


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