A hidden 3-acre public garden grows on a former 40 year old vacant piece of land owned by Caltrans.
Arlington Garden is Pasadena’s only dedicated public garden.
Its Italian style olive allee, numerous succulent and cactus gardens, an Arroyo Seco like pathway flanked by sycamores leading to a vernal pool, orange grove laid out in grids like historical California orange groves, paths and benches set throughout plant communities, and its “surprises around every corner,” make Arlington Garden an indescribable Pasadena landmark.
At the corner of Arlington Drive and Pasadena Avenue, on the Caltrans site that stood vacant for 40 years awaiting construction of the 710 freeway, a garden has come forth and shows people how attractive and effective a low water using Mediterranean climate garden can be.
From 1904 to 1964, the 10-acre site was home to the renowned Durand estate. The 17,000 square foot 50-room mansion was surrounded by stunning gardens and a perimiter of Cherokee roses. Then, in 1964, after the mansion had fallen into disrepair and the gardens gone fallow, Caltrans purchased the lot to store heavy equipment during construction of the planned 710 freeway expansion.
Until 2002, the only attention it got was a twice a year mowing by Caltrans. And the only suggestion of its former glory could be found in two coast live oaks, a California pepper, a jacaranda and seven palms. A temporary use had become a permanent eyesore.
I stumbled upon the garden while searching for this sign, site #25 in the Wildflowering LA project.
The Garden’s layout and moveable furniture invite people to come in and stay awhile.
Walking a labyrinth helps achieve a contemplative state, as you enter with your troubles or issues, achieve the center where you can let them go, and leave refreshed. This classical 7 circuit labyrinth was built with the help of the Sophomores at Mayfield Senior School down the street.
The 3-acre site is made up of various garden rooms and plant communities.
It is a collaboration among Betty and Charles McKenney, the City of Pasadena, and Pasadena Water & Power, who combined to create Pasadena’s only dedicated public garden, on property leased by the City from Caltrans.
It was inspired by Jan Smithen’s book “Sun Drenched Gardens: The Mediterranean Style” and is designed by Mayita Dinos.
Conserve water and plant some sucs in your fountain.
These steps in the center of the garden connect the Olive Allee with the Wish Trees Terrace. They are lined with Italian cypress, Meyer lemons in blue pots, and crape myrtle trees donated by Yoko Ono after her Wish Tree exhibit at One Colorado in 2008.
For the birds.
The Cactus Garden contains cactus, aloe, stonecrop, houseleek, agave, and yucca.
Enjoy some shade.
Native pollinators such as carpenter bees, leaf cutter bees, and butterflies are in long term decline throughout Southern California. The Butterfly Garden is designed to provide for the life cycles of these pollinators in the tradition of the English cottage garden design aesthetic.
Arlington Garden’s 48 Washington Navel orange trees have become more than a colorful representation of Pasadena’s past. In 2010, they decided to make orange marmalade from the orange crop. The marmalade, made by E. Waldo Ward of Sierra Madre was a smash hit. Each 10 oz. jar sells for $10. A case of 12 is $120 only $100. Get 2 jars for free.
The pathways are endless here.
The Arlington Garden Amphitheater is located near the middle of the Arlington Drive entrance. It was built by La Loma Development Co. from split concrete urbanite and sandstone from the face of the Durand House that stood on the site from 1904-1964. The columns came from an Altadena home.
The Amphitheater’s top was built by Ray Cirino. A stained glass window installed in the top picturing a pomegranate has been built by Janet and Rafael Calvo of Tico Tech in Altadena.
The Vernal Pool is a seasonal body of water with uniquely adapted plants and animals occupying the same pool at different times of the year.
The Seasonal Wash carries water down the slope of the Garden to the vernal pool. A thick canopy of California sycamores lies overhead as the visitor explores the boulder rich pathways within this zone and imagines walking along a natural arroyo.
The area directly behind the carved red sandstone in the back of the Amphitheater grows blue agave, ceanothus, bulbine, salvias, fremontia and silk tassel bush.
The collection of succulent plants at Arlington Garden is a display of the diversity of succulents that can be used within drought tolerant, California friendly landscapes.
Arlington Garden is open every day of the year for visiting at no charge. Individuals, families, students, artists, photographers visit Arlington Garden daily for education and enjoyment.