August 2022 visit to LA County Arboretum (part 1)

Last weekend I was in Southern California for the 36th Inter-City Cactus and Succulent Show and Sale, the largest event of its kind in the country—and possibly the world. It’s held at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, just a few miles from the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, which I also visited.

I have a separate post about the Inter-City Show. Here’s just one photo of the sales area outside Ayres Hall, taken during a lull in the mad rush that marked the first few hours on Friday morning:

It was very humid during this year’s Inter-City Show, the influence of the monsoons that caused massive flooding in Death Valley—what the National Park Service calls a “1,000 year rain event.” I’m used to summer heat, but the humidity gets to me so my plans to explore the farther-flung reaches of the Arboretum went nowhere.

I did, however, walk through the areas closest to Ayres Hall, including the Desert Display Garden. You’ll find photos of these areas in this post.

Part 2 has photos of more tropical plants, the Madagascar Spiny Forest, and parts of the Aloe Trail.

I didn’t walk through the Australia Collection, but there are several grass trees (Xanthorrhoea quadrangulata) near Ayres Hall. They were in flower and looked even more majestic:

Australian grass tree (Xanthorrhoea quadrangulata)

Australian grass tree (Xanthorrhoea quadrangulata) and Agave attenuata

The Desert Display Garden has lots of agaves...

Agave gypsicola, not to be confused with Agave gypsophila (see three photos down) well as an impressive collection of mangaves, many of which were flowering:

Amazing display of mangaves right across...

...from the Peacock Café (on the right)

The steely blue agave is Agave gypsophila

Mangave ‘Spotty Dotty’

Agave gypsophila on the left, with Mangave ‘Kaleidoscope’, Mangave ‘Night Owl’, and Agave gypsophila ‘Ivory Curls’ to the right

Agave gypsophila ‘Ivory Curls’ at the top, Mangave ‘Night Owl’ below

Agave tequilana ‘Sunrise’ surrounded by mangave flower stalks

Other cool sights in the Desert Display Garden:

Puya mirabilis from Bolivia

Puya mirabilis flower

Palo blanco tree (Mariosousa heterophylla, formerly Mariosousa willardiana)

We have a palo blanco in our front yard, and it’s one of my favorite features

Speaking of favorites, this was my favorite vignette at the Arboretum: Mariousousa heterophylla on the left, Cleistocactus strausii, Agave weberi

Opuntia santa-rita and NOID cactus

The yellow-flowering shrub is Tecoma stans aka yellow bells or yellow trumpetbush

Clumps of blue barrel cactus (Ferocactus glaucescens)

Ferocactus glaucescens...

...doesn’t get better than this!

Another barrel cactus, Ferocactus robustus, forming even tighter clumps

Ferocactus robustus has the smallest heads in the genus

If this were my garden, I’d be pretty darn happy!

Arguably, the reigning royalty of barrel cacti, the golden barrel (Echinocactus grusonii)

Would it surprise you to know that I do not have a single golden barrel in my garden? Why? Your guess is as good as mine. I suppose I’m waiting for that perfect specimen to fall into my lap, metaphorically speaking of course.

The Desert Display Garden is fairly small, certainly nothing like the Desert Garden at the Huntington. I love it because of its compact size—it could easily be someone’s private garden instead of a public space.

Click here to go to part 2.

© Gerhard Bock, 2022. All rights reserved. To receive all new posts by email, please subscribe here.


  1. The LA Arboretum is looking good! I haven't been there since well before the pandemic but a visit is definitely in order (when the weather is a lot cooler). You're a trouper to pay a visit, not that I'm surprised given the Inter-City Show. I look forward to the rest of your coverage.

  2. Looking forward to your coverage of the Inter-City. Thought about going, but Boris was not well that weekend--and he took priority (he's much improved).

    Gypsicola is a beauty! The Arb looks pretty good. Glad you got to attend the show. I bet it was great.

  3. You sure have been getting around this summer Gerhard ! I haven't been anywhere since April .. gotten a lot of stuff done around here though, so that's something. I enjoyed your tour -I don't even know how many years it's been since I visited the arboretum. Looking forward to all your reports from this trip.


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