Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Hike 2015.091 -- Los Angeles County Arboretum and the Huntington Library and Gardens

Hiked Sunday, November 29. My most recent of hikes, although, as has been the case most of the year, I have many previous hikes still to blog.

It's somewhat rare (but not unprecedented) that I include a hike in a "developed" park. But these did total over three miles of walking, and I was walking where I could not drive, so it qualifies under my "hike" definition."
The Los Angeles County Arboretum had offered "Groupon" specials a couple of times before, but I always responded too late to take advantage of them. For a couple of different reasons, I did want to visit the Arboretum, and I was interested in joining. Just didn't want to have to pay full price if I didn't have to!
So, for $45, I got a "family" member-ship (an individual member-ship would have been fine, but this was cheaper than the regular individual price). So now I've got unlimited entry to the Arboretum, including earlier access (8am). It's similar to what I also have for the Huntington, so, in theory, I can go to either place early for walking and photography. Nice, because the Huntington, at least, gets annoyingly crowded on weekends. Impossible to get a clear shot, sometimes.
Of course, early entry is a bigger deal in the summer, when it gets bright and hot earlier. Just nice to have that option.

Additionally, I get into a whole slew of other gardens and arboretums for free. Not Descanso Gardens, unfortunately, which I still have never been to. But I will be able to go to the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens, in Claremont, which I also have never been to.
Well, I got a late start, and, for some objects, the lighting was just too harsh for good photos. In other cases, however, things worked out great. That was the case with the egret. The side lighting made the reflection in the pool nice and bright, and gave a nice symmetry to my shots.
Even if I didn't get the bonus of watching him catch a fish, I would have been pretty pleased with those shots.

The water, by the way, was incredibly low. I'm pretty sure the egret could walk across the entire pond without losing footing on the pond bottom.
The shallow water may have contributed to the nice, glassy surface, that provided the reflection. It also meant the water was incredibly muddy and algae-filled. Not a pretty sight from some angles, but from a low angle, it was still water, and the wading birds looked great.
The pond is adjacent to what is probably the most well-known landmark of the garden: The Queen Anne Cottage. It's probably less well-known than it used to be, since it's been decades since "Fantasy Island" was on tv. But the bell atop the Queen Anne Cottage is where Tattoo ran up to ring the bell and announce the approach of "De plane, de plane!"
However, I was lazy and not happy with the shots I got of that structure. Can't stop saying how happy I was with the egret series, though!
A little too late for fall color, I think. Or maybe too early, but I don't think so. Not a lot of fall foliage visible, anyway. So, other than the egret, my other favorite shots are here, too: The some hummingbirds, a statue of the woman with the water jar, the waterfall, and a very pink flower atop that waterfall.

I was also happy to see a dawn redwood. They're "living fossils": A plant that is largely unchanged since dinosaur days.
Dawn redwoods are related to giant Sequoias, and Coast Redwoods, but they differ in that they are deciduous. Their leaves change color and drop in the winter.

(I guess some forms of cypress are also like that--I remember them from Land Between the Lakes, and there were a few of them here in the Arboretum, too).
Dawn redwoods were thought extinct, and known only from fossils, until, during World War II, a small grove of them were found in the backwoods of China. They have since been planted in gardens like this all over the world. That lets me see them without having to go to China.
Cycads (like sego palms) are also living fossils. So, when you see dinosaur movies, they often appear in the background. They're plants that dinosaurs would recognize.

In any event, you can see a bit of yellow or brown tinge to the pyramid-shaped tree, here (a dawn redwood). It's a different shade from an actual dead or dying conifer.
And here we are on the cycad trail. I hummed the theme to Jurassic Park as I walked among these plants. Yes, I'm easily amused.
I'm pretty sure I exceeded my three miles before leaving this park, but my Fitbit (set at 15,000 steps) still had not buzzed. So I drove over to the Huntington for a bit more walking. By this time, it was getting late (I got a late start, after all), and the sun was getting low. But that's actually an advantage when you want some dramatic lighting, as you see right here.
I mainly just walked over and around the Chinese Garden, then headed south, to the Japanese Garden. They're the two most elaborate planted areas, in my opinion, and I like them both. Oddly, though, I guess none of my shots of the Chinese garden made the cut.

Diana made the cut, though. I like the form of this statue, and shoot it almost every time I come to this place.
Spent a lot of time around the big rainbow-shaped bridge in the Japanese garden, mostly just waiting for a break in the crowds, so I could get a decent shot. The number of selfie and quasi-selfie shots really annoyed me--People standing right next to the object of interest, so no one can take a shot without them being in it, and they're never going to be very interesting shots. Heck, why not just take a selfie of yourself in front of a green screen, then insert yourself digitally in front of all of these objects. You're not even appreciating the object, because you've got your back to it.
Well, after these very un-Zen-like feelings, I wandered on up to the Zen garden. :D

Colorful Ginkgo trees, there. Ironically, these are also "living fossils," and developed lived contemporaneously with the dawn redwood and cycads that we mentioned earlier. Also, their fan-like leaves were the symbol of the Tokugawa Shogunate, which ruled Japan for hundreds of years, before falling with the Meiji Restoration.
The shot above was from within the walls of the Zen garden, while this next shot was from must outside the walls, with a shaped juniper as foreground.

Other than the Ginkgo, I think most of the fall foliage here was also past peak.
Finally, I headed back, but swung by the Rose Garden, and caught a beautiful yellow rose, catching the last rays of an autumn afternoon sun. Nice end to my day of walking in a couple of wonderful domesticated parks here in the San Gabriel Valley.

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