Neighborhood Travels

The Desert Garden at the Huntington

While the Chinese New Year Festival was fun, our main objective during the recent visit to the Huntington was to see the Desert Garden.  This may be the largest of the individual gardens in the entire Huntington complex.  It felt like it as I walked around the area on my sore foot!  As you can guess, the Desert Garden is home to cacti and succulents.  The collection is extensive!


According to Google, there are about two thousand different kinds of cactuses in the world.  The most common kind is the Echinocactus grusonii, the golden barrel cactus.

Golden barrel cactus
Golden Barrel Cactus…?

I photographed a lot of these little fellows.  I’m pretty sure this one is Echinocactus grusonii.  Of course, I could be wrong.  There are lots of different Echinocactus.

Cactus on the slope
Cactus dot a slope in the Desert Garden of the Huntington

For instance, that little fellow in the lower right-hand corner is a Echinocactus ingens.   All those little round ones are probably echinocactus!

A fuzzy desert garden

As for my preference, I like fuzzy cactus. There are lots of different mammillaria at the Huntington.  These white ones always catch me eye.

One of many mammillaria at the Huntington
Pincushion cactus, mammillaria haageana, one of many mammillaria growing in the Desert Garden

Of course, it isn’t fuzzy!  Don’t touch it.  There are all kinds of these cute little things. Here’s another, the Mammillaria geminispina.

Mammillaria geminispina
Prickly Mammillaria geminispina

The two species look a lot alike.  The above type likes to grow in clumps.  That’s about all I can tell you; I’m a terrible gardener.

Here are a couple other fuzzy types.  I haven’t a clue what genus these are.  I just like the way the light catches the spines.

Tall and fluffy cactus
Tall and fluffy cactus

What is that stuff?  It almost looks like fur.

The Familiar

I live in southern California, where landscaping often includes cactus and succulents.  I never know the names of the plants, but I do recognize Prickly Pear.

Prickly Pear growing in the Desert Garden of the Huntington
Prickly Pear

The red color is hard to miss.  And who hasn’t heard of prickly pear jelly?  The spines are sharp, and the hairs on the fruit are bothersome, too.  Be careful.


I enjoyed my visit to the Desert Garden.  I’m glad I went in February while it was still nippy in California.  Here are my few suggestions.

  • The Desert Garden is significant, be prepared to walk.
  • The garden is also sunny; use sunscreen and wear a hat.
  • If it’s summer, you’re doomed.  Sorry, that’s my take on it.
  • Get a map at the entrance.  The paths wind around in circles.
  • Take water if you need it.
  • Better yet, take some photos!
  • If you get tired or hungry, there are places to eat in other gardens.  Check that map I mention above.

Hope you enjoy the Huntington.  It’s a fabulous place and probably requires more than one visit.

To see more Desert Garden images, please click here.


Elizabeth Boatman

Traveler, explorer, memory maker and someone who's just downright curious about stuff. It's all about finding joy.


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