During my brief stay in L.A., my uncle brought me to the Huntington Library and Gardens in San Marino, California. I go, “wheres that?” According to my uncle , the place is open to the public during the first thursday of the month but we have to be very early because the line would have to be very long and we would end up parking very far. I thought that he was kidding but I was wrong. So when I was iven just a couple of hours to cover the area, I cannot just stay in one corner. I had to get moving.
The place was a vast estate established built by businessman/philanthropist Mr. Henry Huntington and his wife Arabella. It is said to be the finest research center and library in the country if not the world filled with first edition manuscripts and documents. Most of the documents are from the British literature like plays from William Shakespeare, manuscripts from Chaucer, documents from Abraham Lincoln, etc. As I enrich my mind with all their writings, I go out of the library to see the sculptures that abound the gardens like that of Diana, Goddess of Hunting. As I gaze at the statue, I am reminded of the eulogy made by the Earl of Spencer in tribute of his sister, Princess Diana. After I walked to the mansion which was converted to a gallery/museum for the priceless art collection and furnishings. Portrait paintings made by British artists like the “Blue Boy” by Gainsborough and “Pinkie” by Thomas Lawrence hang in the walls together with French ceramics. If I remember correctly, the house was in the movie “Mame”. Next stop are the gardens.
Huntington has around twelve acres of land devoted to different styles of gardens. First one we saw was the Rose Garden. Serene is a word I could think to describe the place. Roses in different shades of red,orange, white and peach are all over whether in bushes or urns. One particular spot shows roses surrounding a statue of what seems to be Venus, Goddess of Love. I was in luck that despite the cold weather at that time,the roses were in full bloom. A part of this garden was in the Nicholas Cage movie, ” National Treasure-Book o Secrets.”
Then I passed by a long trellis only to be awed at the end of it. It was the start of the Japanese Garden. Amazing! One does not have to be good at gardening to admire the place. Autumn added color to the place. Nature stirred its paintbrush to reveal its different shades of yellow, orange, browns and greens amid the blue sky. As one enters, one sees a large Japanese iron bell to the left of the entrance. Right below in the middle of the garden is a large koi pond with a Japanese-style bridge crossing over it. Willow trees surround the area with its yellow-green leaves. Its just fitting for the season. Then I wind upward to a forked path to the other side towards a Japanese house at the left side. The scene is similar to a Japanese shogun film. I am reminded of the recent movie “Memoirs of a Geisha” which was partially shot in the area in 2005. I pass by a row of trees with yellow leaves to check on their bonsai collectionat the farther end of the garden. As I go back to the forked path to choose the other path,I end up in the newly created Chinese Garden. The scene is like one entering the Forbidden City with its Chinese pagoda and Foo Dog sculptures by the entrance. Although relatively new compared to the Japanese Garden, one could see a lot of potentials in this garden once it all set up. After this , we passed by the large Conservatory of Botanical Science and this is at the north-end of the property only. The other gardens were too far because of the acres of land that one has to walk on just to reach it and a couple of hours is not enough to navigate the whole place. Given the gardens I have passed, I could have just imaginethat the others are just as beautiful.
As I end my tour of the place, I try to scan the place and fill the knowledge my brains and the beauty I saw with my eyes. I tell myself that one can never have enough knowledge and no such thing as a perfect beauty. Constant reserch an developement hones them towards perfectionand that is why the game is always on at the Huntington.