Gravel pathways crunch underneath the heavy footsteps of visitors who come to the Ranch House for samples of citrus slices and perennial herbs. The Ranch Garden is one of 16 themed gardens across 120 acres of botanical gardens at The Huntington in San Marino. The Huntington is a collections-based educational institution founded in 1919 by Henry E. and Arabella Huntington.
The lush grounds include research facilities, art museums, a library, and gardens that highlight the natural world through 15,000 native and non-native plants. The Ranch Garden is a community resource used for permaculture research and urban agriculture at The Huntington and is only open to the public on Saturdays.
Almost every fruit-bearing tree, flowering bush, and plant within the 2-acre garden is edible. Pomegranate, mulberry, and citrus trees commingle with ground shrubs and vegetable plots. Two giant date palms tower over the fenced-in gardening workshop where the UC Master Gardeners meet every Saturday. Fragrant salvia (sage) bushes and rosemary line the walkways at the entrance.
Gretta Treuscorff is one of the full-time gardeners at the Ranch House. She wears a wide-brimmed straw hat to shade from the sun that shines bright in January.
Treuscorff explains how the Ranch Garden upholds permaculture as it’s agricultural ethos. The gardeners look to nature to see how things thrive naturally in the wild world and use the principles of nature to discover the highest yields.
“We put blackberries on a trellis to keep them upright. But what happens in nature? How do the highest yields happen in nature,” said Treuscorff.
The ethnobotanical garden is another way Treuscorff says the gardeners trace native plants to culture and community in Southern California. The garden features medicinal plants indigenous people used in their daily lives many years ago.