Tea, Gardens and Art at The Huntington in Pasadena
My mom first hipped me to The Huntington – a garden slash art gallery in Pasadena, one of my favorite cities in L.A. Although it’s been years since her last visit, she still speaks fondly of the place as it was where she had her last father-daughter outing with my grandfather before he passed away.
“Oh, you’re going to The Huntington!” she screeched excitedly when I told her that Jave and I planned to visit one Saturday a few weeks back. “You’re going to love it!”
With hopes high, Jave and I set out to The Huntington in time to make it to our afternoon tea reservation in the Rose Garden Tea Room. After parking and making our way onto the grounds, we were immediately impressed by our surroundings. Although I was hungry, as we made our way past signs pointing to the property’s various gardens and The Huntington Art Gallery, I was somewhat anxious to get through our scheduled tea time so that we could explore all of the beauty around us.
While our tea experience was good, I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed by the fact that tea in the Rose Garden Tea Room is served buffet style; I had high hopes for a more traditional afternoon tea. However, the buffet allowed us to eat our fill of finger sandwiches, salads, assorted cheeses, fruits, and sweets accompanied by endless pots of tea (despite the fact that we could only handle one) which, I suppose, justified the pricey $31 per person price tag which doesn’t include admission to The Huntington itself.
After tea, we made our way through the Rose Garden to the Japanese Garden. I was completely enthralled by the pristine architectural landscape of the space. The Japanese Garden is complete with a high-arching drum bridge, a traditional Japanese house known as a ryokan, a bonsai court, a walled Zen garden, and more. Although I have yet to visit Japan, wandering through the Japanese Garden instantly transported me there.
Not thinking that I could be more mesmerized, I was pleasantly surprised when we wandered into Liu Fang Yuan, the Garden of Flowing Fragrance. This garden is modeled after the scholar gardens in Suzhou, China. If I’d known, Jave and I would’ve skipped the Rose Garden Tea Room and instead eaten lunch at the Chinese Garden Tea House which sits next to the garden’s 1.5 acre lake.
Next up, we headed to the Huntington Art Gallery which is housed in the former home of railroad and real estate mogul, Henry E. Huntington, and his wife Arabella (who happened to be his uncle’s widow!). Although the gallery features one of the best collections of 18th century British art in the country, I was more moved by the architecture and interior design of the Beaux-Arts residence.
After our foray through the house, we headed to the Desert Garden where we gawked at kooky-looking plants, some of which were familiar, and many of which we’d never seen before. The desert garden is pushing 100 years old and features over 2,000 species of water-storing desert plants.
Although there are plenty of other gardens and galleries to see at The Huntington, because it was starting to get dark (and a bit cold), we ended our botanical adventure in the Australian Garden which features eucalyptus trees and towering bamboo amongst other plants associated with Oz.
Visit The Huntington’s website for details on hours and admission.