Facts and Figures
Mrs. Huntington used this area as a cut-flower garden, the design of beds and walks go back to her time. Later, in the 1930’s, it was used as a test plot for exotic shrubs and trees. Janet Wright, secretary to William Hertrich, began developing the space as an herb garden in the 1950’s. In 1975 the garden was again replanted and the plants grouped by traditional use. These uses include cooking, salads, teas, alcoholic beverages, fiber and dyes, potpourris, confections, perfumes & cosmetics, and medicine (they are not all used today for that purpose). The garden was redesigned in 1984 and a bed of Tussie-mussie herbs was added.
The Southern California climate allows us to grow many herbs and even some spices not found in traditional herb gardens. These include, but not limited to, plants that give us coffee, tea, mate, hops, and jojoba.
Many larger and shade loving herbs are planted outside the beds, along the perimeter of the garden.
Some plants are not included due to size, adaptability, or threat to the environment (invasiveness, toxicity, etc.).
Laurus nobilis, the Sweet Bay, used since classic Greek times in cooking and to honor poets.
Aloe vera, Medicinal Aloe, the sap of the fleshy leaves is used in cosmetics.
Aloysia triphylla, Lemon Verbena, the leaves are dried and used as a soothing tea.
Gossypium barbadense, Sea Island cotton, in the hibiscus family is not used for commercial cotton production, but is a highly ornamental shrub for the landscape.
There are two kinds of signs in the herb garden. One lists the botanical and common name of the plant. Other signs have quotations from the Huntington Library’s fine collection of early herbals with the author’s name and the date of publication.
The Herb Garden sponsors a number of educational programs each year:
- A Spinning, Weaving, and Dyeing Weekend is held in June.
- The Education Department sponsors special tours and demonstrations on cooking with herbs.
- Trained docents are on duty during public hours to answer visitor’s questions. In addition, a different display each month features the many uses of herbs.
Asian medicinal and culinary herbs are being added.
The salad bed is currently being replanted.