A Walking Tour of the Arlington Garden in Pasadena
One of the overall goals of this garden is to provide beauty and color during all seasons of the year. We have chosen Mediterranean climate and drought tolerant plants to minimize the amount of water needed.
As you enter the garden at the western most entrance on Arlington Drive, you will see myrtle beds on each side that flank snow in summer and Spanish lavender. Bulbs come up in the spring. You pass through the plane tree allee and enter the circular path around the fountain where we have South African daisies and sedum. This fountain is run by solar power and was sponsored by the West Pasadena Residents’ Association.
The archway to the left leads you to the sign commemorating the Durand house and botanical gardens, which were on the site from 1902 until about 1962 when the house was razed. Plants in this area are from areas with Mediterranean climates, especially Australia and South Africa.
The archway to the right leads you to the sign describing the elements of a Mediterranean garden. By the sign we have planted lemon verbena, which is very fragrant and used for making tea. There is a wonderful view of Mt. Baldy coming along this path and a bench shaded by a Don Juan climbing rose.
As you enter the olive allee past the Italian pots, our Spanish Lavender is filling the area between the olive trees and a birdbath is busy with feathered visitors large and small. At the end of this view is a restful bench covered with wisteria and backed by tall Italian cypress to help define this “room.” On both sides of the olive allee there is space to play bocce, picnic tables and chairs and benches to observe the rosemary hedge bordered by boxwood, iris and, in front, “rock rose” cistus. In each corner of the room we have pomegranate “wonderful” trees.
These plants and trees are irrigated by netafim drip run by a solar powered controller, which is capable of running eight valves.
Leaving this area please notice the peaceful “west bank” filled with sages, salvias, rosemary, lavender, Ray Hartman ceanothus, New Zealand tea trees (lemon scented) and a few volunteer olives. Our Chinese Pistache are very colorful in the fall when they turn bright red and gold.
At the northwest corner of this area one can exit by the path towards the St. Francis succulent corner and rock garden adjacent to it. Prominent in this area are several nice succulents: sticks on fire, blue agave, Peruvian apple cactus, senecio ground cover and two varieties of knife leaf acacia, one weeping and one upright. The dark colored tree is a peppermint and the black succulents are Schwarzkopf.
Heading down to the wall on your right we have an ivy trellis, a red climbing rose, mallow, and flax to identify the boundary of the road for accessing the power poles in this area.
Looking back toward the olive allee, there is another bench mirroring the one in the allee surrounded by succulents, two abelia, which attract bumble bees and swallowtail butterflies, and a row of Texas Ranger in front of the cypress. Our pine tree forest in this area will contain huge trees in the future: a sequoia, coulter pine, deodar cedar, big cone spruce, stone pine and halepensis pines. Bulbs are planted in a semicircle in this area and more are in the field. We have paperwhites and amaryllis blooming in the winter and some native bulbs in spring. They don’t need water in the summer.
A Torrey Pine is growing by the stone table and benches. The split concrete patio is surrounded by toyon with red or yellow berries and three strawberry trees, with their beautiful clusters of pink lantern shaped flowers.
Heading south along the original Durand House concrete path puts you in the middle of the butterfly garden where native plants attract and support all stages of life of this insect. We also have artichoke, mint, lions tail, buddleia, St Catherine’s lace, grevillea, blue hibiscus and several varieties of thyme. California buckwheat and bees bliss salvia round out the planting here.
As you get to the blue pots with meyer lemons, the first crape myrtle trees that Yoko Ono used in her living exhibit at One Colorado are visible along the steps and down and around the garden with the raised herb beds. These Wish Trees will bloom with white and pink blossoms in the summer, turn orange/red in the fall and leaf out again in the spring.
Down the Tuscan steps, our succulent planted fountain is centered in this room and herbs or succulents are growing in the raised beds. Aloe and agave fill the bank below the shelf and a cumquat with dwarf lantana anchors the corner. Boxes of succulents hold umbrellas in the summer and are planted with a variety of drought tolerant plants. Under the jacaranda tree we have a favorite watering hole for birds and animals and a pleasant place to site and view the California half of the garden.
Below to the left is Mayita’s half moon garden with silvery white and gray green plants, which show up in the moonlight. Sycamores line the arroyo-like walking path lined with rock, and lupin and California poppies bring this meadow, on both sides of the path, to life in March and April. Several wild flowers appear in turn: tidy tips, clarkia, baby blue eyes, blue flax, and the California sunflower.
Along the arroyo we have Texas white and native western redbud trees. The sycamores came up from clippings in the mulch and were transplanted to this area. When winter rains come, the water ends up in a vernal pool where reeds and grasses are planted. Lastenia and Layia are sprouting now in January. Also, water loving trees like chilopsis, dogwood, cottonwood and alder, are happy here.
Bordering the meadow you will find manzanita, wooly blue curls, white sage and blue juniper. Grasses will be planted this winter. Under the oaks in our garden, we have gooseberries, golden currant, paperwhites, hummingbird sage, snow berries, and …
Our desert area will also have a display of poppies in the spring, but cactus anchor this very dry area of the garden. We have saguaro cactus, “desert museum” palo verde and palo blanco trees create a lacy curtain through which to view chuparosa, variegated agave and spider aloe. Some of the original palm trees are here including Washingtonia and a Canary Island Palm. Two bird of paradise bushes and grevillea bring lots of color when in bloom in the fall.
The amphitheater completed last February has pieces of the original carved red sandstone from the Durand House. The columns were donated by a Pasadena resident and holds a wire bonnet to provide shade in the heat of summer. The bonnet will contain a stained glass replica of a pomegranate that will reflect throughout the area as the sun makes its pass. Vines will cover this structure and make a pleasant arrangement for enjoying music, poetry and plays.
Along the Arlington Drive sidewalk, we have a repetition of native artemesia, coyote bush, ceanothus and apricot mallow. In the parkway we have scooped out the soil to keep the water on site and made rock wells around the magnolia trees. Senecio is the succulent in the pipeless irrigation system allowing water to meander down from tree to tree.
As you walk down the sidewalk to the corner, stop to read our sign with the master plan. It is surrounded with hummingbird sage and heuchera pink “coral bells.” Continuing north along Pasadena Avenue, enter the garden along our two-lane country road and read our last sign about pepper trees and growing oranges. We have replanted an orange grove in typical rows to remind us of days gone by when California was acre upon acre of orange trees and very few houses. There is netafim drip irrigation and mini spray irrigation in these two groves run by a battery powered digital timer. You will be welcomed by two signs made of 100 year old pine rescued from a Craftsman house remodel.
The latest additions to the Garden are a 7 circuit classical labyrinth under the large pepper west of the orange grove and built with the help of Mayfield Senior School Sophomore Class, and an urbanite “poppy” in the middle of the central meadow which will be planted with grasses and bulbs and from which you can walk into the poppy fields.
Future development in this area will provide a fountain and a Craftsman Commons patio with a “green” arbor at the south end.
We hope you have oriented yourself during this tour and can now fine a comfortable bench or chair to “just be” in the presence of mother nature and contemplate whatever comes to mind.
Betty and Charles McKenney
The Constant Gardeners