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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Springtime at Arlington Garden

Yesterday I had a nice visit at Arlington Garden, where the woman in the photo above was enjoying a leisurely stroll.

I was there to meet with Chuck Hudson, who serves on the board of the West Pasadena Residents' Association. We had been trying to get together for some time to discuss...well, I'll save that for later.

Arlington Garden is at 235 Arlington Dr. at Pasadena Avenue.

After Chuck left, I spent an hour or so meandering through this magnificent piece of heaven on earth and Pasadena's only dedicated public garden. I hadn't been there in a few months.

Dozens of intertwining pathways lead through three spectacular acres. Whether you're a hardy hiker or need a little ADA action, Arlington Garden can accommodate you.

You'll find pleasant surprises around every corner.

Benches, tables with umbrellas, comfortable chairs and bright pots invite visitors to slow down and stay awhile.

There are several entrances. This one on the Arlington Drive side has a few steps, but if you prefer flat surfaces there are plenty of those entrances as well. 

Some brief history: Formerly the site of the Durand Estate, the land sat vacant for more than 40 years after the mansion was demolished in the early 1960s. Pasadena City Councilman Steve Madison hosted a series of community meetings in 2004 to give residents the opportunity to provide input on potential uses.

When no consensus could be reached, Pasadena residents Charles "Kicker" and Betty McKenney came up with an inspired idea: create a Mediterranean demonstration garden. The City of Pasadena began leasing the land from Caltrans and students from Cal Poly Pomona created the conceptual drawings that helped guide the garden’s future direction.

Under Kicker and Betty's superb leadership and with support from Pasadena Water and Power, Pasadena Public Works Department, Steve Madison, dozens of donors, volunteers and others, the huge blank canvas was slowly and lovingly transformed into a beautiful refuge teeming with drought-tolerant trees and thousands of plant species native to Southern California or otherwise suited to our semi-arid climate.

It's now certified by the National Wildlife Federation (ducks, birds and butterflies, not bears or bobcats!).

Kicker and Betty are at Arlington Garden frequently, so be sure to say hello if you see them when you visit. (Photo credit for this shot only: Pasadena Now)

At this time of year the nearly 50 Washington navel orange trees are in bloom, which means it won't be long before a fresh batch of Arlington Garden Sweet Orange Marmalade will be available!

Beginning at the opening of the classic seven-circuit labyrinth, walk slowly and thoughtfully all the way to the center and then retrace your steps. Many find it a contemplative and peaceful experience.

Ready to take your own tour of Arlington Garden? There's an app for that!

Some words of advice:

* Clean up after Rover and keep him on a leash.
* There are no restrooms, so "go" before you come.
* Bringing food in? Take your trash out with you.
* No smoking!
* Stay as long as you like, sunrise to sunset, 365 days a year.

If you'd like to volunteer at Arlington Garden or donate dollars or materials, please click here.

Gardens help sustain us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. They differ from parks in that plants and trees provide the focal point in a garden. You won’t find play structures or merry-go-rounds here. . .A middle school student wrote that she likes Arlington Garden ‘because I can hear my thoughts here.' 
-- Betty McKenney


  1. This reminds me of the 1st blogger who wrote about this a few years ago. Unfortunately most of my tours of Arlington have been only via blogs.

    I would add 1 vital word of advice to your list:
    Especially be sure to clean up after the cat.

  2. Your photos capture the gardens beautifully. It's really a series of rooms, isn't it? I've been paying calls since they first started -- I can see it's time for another visit. (That birdhouse is a peach, hadn't noticed it before.)

  3. I need to get over there while it's still in full bloom. Your photo display has me biting at the bit.

  4. Maybe you can pull some strings and we could have a blogger picnic over there???????

    1. That's a very creative idea, PA. And a good idea.

  5. It's grown since I've been there. Needs another visit from me.

  6. Posted March 30, eh? I'd say you are somewhat magical in your timing. (or something, wink)

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