Four days in the Southland

Last week we spent four days in the greater Los Angeles area, checking out some new sights, revisiting favorite places, and attending the Huntington’s fall plant sale. This is just a preview; I’ll have a series of dedicated posts in the weeks to come.

The drive down the Central Valley is quite monotonous and always seems longer than it is. Fortunately, we had puffy white clouds that make the scenery infinitely more photogenic:

The clouds were even more dramatic later in the day when I walked through the Desert Garden at the Huntington:

Aloidendron barberae

Backlit plants—especially spiky plants—invariably take my breath away:

Bergerocactus emoryi

Cleistocactus sp.

Golden barrels (Echinocactus grusonii)

Agave parryi var. truncata

Agave potatorum

Agave shawii

Two of the places we visited were new to me, including the National History Museum of Los Angeles:

We saw aloes...

...and exotic flowers...

Ceiba speciosa

...but the main attraction for me was the Living Wall at the museum entrance:

I’d seen many photos, but it was even more impressive in person:

Agave shawii

The Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden at UCLA was another first for me. It’s not in the same league as the Huntington or the Los Angeles County Arboretum, but it packs a lot of variety into its 7 acres:

Staghorn fern (Platycerium sp.)

Tree ferns (Dicksonia sp.)

Kumara plicatilis × Aloe marlothii

A cool apartment building East Hollywood:

I also revisited Pitzer College in Claremont. Its entire campus is an arboretum featuring succulents from the Old and New World:

On our drive home, we stopped at a place I’d been wanting to see for many years, the Forestiere Underground Gardens in Fresno. This extensive underground networks of rooms, courtyards and passageways was excavated by Sicilian immigrant Baldassare Forestiere over a span of 40 years, starting in 1906—by hand, using only simple tools. Many of the fruit trees he grew in large planters as much as 25 feet below the surface are still alive today, and bearing fruit.

Baldassare Forestiere's “summer bedroom”

I’ll have a lot more about Baldassare Forestiere in a separate post.

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


  1. I sure will stay tuned! These are so interesting! I never before heard of these until your post!

  2. You always make great use of your trips! Everyone of your photos is perfectly framed and beautiful. I've never been to the underground gardens in Fresno but I remember that Huell Howser had a segment on his visit many years ago.

    1. The Forestiere Underground Garden was absolutely fascinating. I've got to see if I can find Huell Howser's segment on YouTube. I'm not a big fan of his personality, but his stories were always great.

  3. That group of 12, 13? victoriae-reginae, cool! Excellent photos, all of them. Looking forward to the details of what looks like a great trip.

    1. I agree!! That grouping of victoriae-reginae has inspired me to plant even more of them in my own garden. I have a clump in an overcrowed pot--easily a dozen plants. Yes, small except for the mother, but they'll grow.

  4. So glad you finally made it to the Natural History Museum and the Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden. Did you hear about the mama bear and her cubs wandering the LA Arboretum the other day? They had to close it down to "relocate" them.

    1. Bears at the LA County Arboretum? No, I didn't hear the story. That's insane in a wonderful way. I hope the bears are safe.


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