Friday, December 03, 2010

Going boldly across the void of space

It would seem churlish to complain about the cold in Los Angeles, when all my English friends are under six feet of snow, but the canyon has been cold, nonetheless, with temperatures down to 20F at night. My mother braved it very well in her little hut (my office transforms quite magically into a guest bedroom) with the sturdy space heater, and I found her there every morning, when I brought tea, looking cozy in bed with Antonia Fraser's memoir propped up on her lap.

At the Getty yesterday, where we'd gone seeking sunshine to warm her bones (and mine) before the tedious flight back to London, a docent on the garden tour was overheard telling her eager-beaver tourist group that Los Angeles' lack of seasons is a misnomer.  How true.  And yet, yesterday, up on top of the hill in Brentwood where the Getty museum sits so magnificently, it was a sunny day. Not a summer day, but a sunny winter day with a sky full of whimsical chemtrails (I do dislike myself for admiring them so) and a bright, burning sun.  We stood at the top of the building, by the entrance to the remarkable French manuscripts exhibit, staring out over the Veteran's hospital and tree-lined west LA and I remarked that, looking this way, this is a city you'd choose, you know, to live in.

There is a floaty, wintry mist, something related to smog I'm sure, that hangs over the trees and softens the look of everything.  It was a splendid day, marred only by my mother's imminent departure to sleety England.

The garden at the Getty, designed by artist Robert Irwin, is the most extraordinary thing. Provocatively geometrical, yet planted with such care and precision that one is overwhelmed by its Zen-like qualities. One can sit on the cleverly curved benches for hours, taking it all in. No view is the same.  It is quite astoundingly peaceful.

Irwin's statement, "Always changing, never twice the same," is carved into the plaza floor, reminding visitors of the ever-changing nature of this living work of art.

And there is always something to notice. This is crepe myrtle. You can click here for a plant list.

The circular maze in the middle of the pond is constructed from miniature white and pink azalea.

"We don't have trees with bark like that in England" said my mother.  It's perhaps the arboreal equivalent of taking off one's heavy winter coat.

Doesn't this make you want to plant a pomegranate tree just in time for Christmas?

I couldn't identify this plant.  It is similar to sorrel (syre in Norwegian) and hugs the ground, but a dark purple color.

 Euphorbia is quickly becoming my very favorite plant.

This strange image from outer space is in fact a princess bush (tibouchina urvilleana).

Ivy on the steps leading back up from the garden is showing signs of autumn.

My mother, rather like the Star Ship enterprise, boldly goes (and with purpose).
The Getty Center is located at 
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, 

California 90049
It is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00am to 5:30pm (and later on Saturdays). Admission is free. Parking is $15 and includes a Sleeper-esque tram ride up the hill to the museum.


Jackie said...

Love the pictures and your writing adds to the imageries. Thank you for sharing.

Sensible Footwear said...

The garden looks magical. Stunning photoraphs and I really enjoy your writing as well. Lovely.

Sensible Footwear said...

Oops - photographs even!

Unknown said...

Golly I love the way you give me insights into life on the other side of the world (and mind bogglingly exciting LA no less), from the comfort of my office chair. Always a treat. Deb

Steve Saldivar said...

Beautiful post! I'm glad you had a great time at the Getty! Irwin was right: "Always changing, never twice the same."

The Getty has a flickr group called My Getty visit ( We would love it if you shared your visit with the Flickr community! Great photography!

Please let us know when you visit us again!

Lisa said...

Love the photos! The purplish one you couldn't identify is oxalis, which is pretty much a weed. But there are pretty varieties of it, such as the one pictured.

Pip said...

Great photos! Lovely post and your mum is looking very well!!

LPC said...

Very beautiful. Close to breaking my heart, but it's walking a long road. How does your mother stand to live so far away? She has other children in her vicinity?

Wally B said...

What a gorgeous last afternoon for your Mom. And as usual, your taste shines through

Miss Whistle said...

@Jackie @SensibleFootwear So glad you like them & very happy to receive your comments. (Feedback makes all the difference, knowing one isn't shouting into a void, so I'm very grateful).

@Deb I'm really glad that I can be of service! At least we have a little sunshine to offer when poor Europe is snowed in. Keep warm.

@Steve Thanks for the heads up re the Flickr group. I've been a bit lame about Flickr so now I've a reason to share! I'm mad about the Getty and find excuses to visit all the time.

@Lisa Wow, oxalis. So happy to know that. I'm going to plant some in my garden.

@Pip Yes, she's fantastic, apart from her leg, but she speeds around incredibly nimbly.

@LPC My mamma loves it here but all her friends, my brothers and sisters, and most importantly her Jack Russell are in England, although this year she's going to Norway to stay with her sister for Christmas. I'm miserable every time she leaves.

@Legend You're so very kind and generous. I'm so glad we're blog pals!

Miss W