Escape The Cold And Visit This Stunning California Garden

While there are many beautiful gardens in California, one of the largest and most stunning is the Hunting Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens. If you've ever wanted to visit somewhere that felt like a fairy tale, the gardens won't disappoint. On a recent trip, I walked through just the Desert Garden, one of 15 themed gardens immaculately maintained by the library. After a couple of hours in just this section, I was in awe. It's definitely on my list to go back and visit the other gardens as well.

Large, fully mature plants

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Upon walking into the garden there was a group of potted succulents. While not the main attraction, these fully grown specimens were much larger than most I had seen. They weren't quite as pristine and perfect as succulents grown in a nursery, but I was impressed by how colorful and blemish-free many of them were even in a harsh climate.

Walking in Wonderland

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Taking a walk through this desert garden feels other-worldly. You might feel like you're in a Dr. Seuss book or Alice in Wonderland as you walk through and examine all the beautiful drought-tolerant plants. There isn't a shortage of colors, textures, or variety in this impressive garden.

Golden Globes

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Of course, a desert garden wouldn't be complete without cactus. It's no surprise the garden has large fields of the iconic Golden Barrel Cactus. These were frequently mixed in with other cacti (as seen here) but another section of the garden had them paired with Agave providing an interesting contrast of both color and texture. Some of the Barrel Cactus in the garden are more than 85 years old.

Oceans of Aeoniums

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These Aeonium hybrids were all throughout the garden as well. They looked like polka dots on the hillside with bright green centers and dark red outer leaves. While Aeoniums can often look overgrown and bare long windy stems, these had so many rosettes on them you couldn't see any of the winding trunks behind them.

Aloes, oh my!

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You couldn't walk very far through the garden without encountering huge Aloes. Frequently they were surrounded by Blue Chalksticks Senecio too. It almost looked like ocean waves with large sea urchins floating through.

Potted Perfection

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I've grown a number of Sempervivum and trailing Sedums, but these were much larger than most I've seen. This potted arrangement was perfectly balanced with just enough variety to keep it interesting. The variegated Aloes were new to me. I was quite intrigued by the bright stripes running through each of the leaves, looking almost like candy.

Propeller Plant

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Throughout the garden, there are large sections with one or two individual species. I've grown a few Crassula falcata (Propeller Plant) but have never seen so many of them growing so tall. This is quite an unusually shaped plant, but it looked well suited for the slightly sloped garden bed it was planted in.

Elegant Echeveria

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Perfectly planted among the lava rock was a river of Echeveria elegans, also called Mexican Snowball. These delicate succulents provided a soft contrast to the jagged rocks. Even the reddish-orange color of the rocks was the perfect complement to the blue-green succulents.

Growing on the Rocks

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Many of the succulents were growing in the ground like a traditional garden. But as you walked down the sloped pathways there were often large boulders with succulents growing in every nook and cranny. Some succulents were small and just barely fit while others, like this Aloe, were huge and almost seemed out of place. It truly shows how determined these plants are to survive even in unusual spaces.

Cacti of All Kinds

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Columnar cacti are all throughout the garden as well. Here you can see several varieties along with some colorful softer succulents and Aeoniums surrounding them. The Huntington Desert Garden is home to more than 2,000 species of succulents and desert plants. A careful observer will be able to pick out which of these are cacti and which are Euphorbia. They can be tricky to tell apart!

Flower Power

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I was fortunate enough to visit in the Spring when many of the cacti were in bloom. There were a number of red, orange, pink, and yellow flowers on many different species in the garden. The contrast between these delicate flowers and sharp-spined plants has always fascinated me.

Yes, Your Succulent Is Probably Dying, But Here's What To Do About It

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There are a number of reasons your succulent might not be looking great. Find out how to tell what's wrong with your succulent and how you can fix it or prevent it from happening again.

7 Worst Mistakes Beginners Make When Growing Succulents

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Many people assume that they can take care of succulent plants however they want -- just treat them like normal house plants. The problem is succulents aren't like most other house plants. They have completely different watering needs and often need more sunlight and airflow than other plants. Find out what the most common succulent mistakes are and how to avoid them.

Save Your Succulents With This Critical Watering Technique And Look Like A Pro

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A big part of keeping succulents healthy is providing them with the right environment. You'll want to pay attention to the soil they're in, how much sunlight they're getting, and most importantly, how often you're watering them. The method and frequency of watering succulents are critical to preventing rot while encouraging lots of new growth.

Are These Weird Succulents Too Ugly To Grow In Your Garden?

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Photo Credit: Keith Taylor.

Most people think of succulents as beautiful rosettes with thick, colorful leaves. They're tough and can withstand long periods of drought. But not all succulents are beautiful. This can be a heated discussion, but while many think these weird succulents are cool, others won't even consider buying them. Would you grow any of the ugly succulents on this list?

Get more succulents for free with this simple propagation technique

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One of the best things about growing succulents is how easily they propagate (grow new baby plants). Propagating succulents from leaves is extremely fun and a rewarding way to get more plants without having to buy new ones. Learning this simple technique can be quite addicting but may help keep your plant budget on track.

This article originally appeared on Succulents and Sunshine.