Torch Bearers of the Desert Garden


A hillside in the lower Desert Garden blazes with masses of Aloe arborescens blooms. Photos by Lisa Blackburn.

Winter is one of the showiest seasons at The Huntington, especially in the Desert Garden. Thousands of colorful aloes are at the peak of their bloom right now, making it the perfect time to explore this 10-acre landscape. Their torch-like inflorescences, or flower clusters, light up the garden in brilliant shades of red, orange, yellow, and gold.


An unusual yellow form of A. arborescens makes a bright splash in the landscape.

Aloes are “Old World” succulents, most of them native to South Africa but also distributed into east Africa, Madagascar, and southern Arabia. More than 300 kinds of aloes are represented at The Huntington, ranging in size from the dainty A. humilis to the large tree aloe, A. bainesii, which can reach 60 feet in height.

A particularly dramatic massed display of the flame-red A. arborescens can be seen right now on a hillside on the eastern side of the garden, visible from the Heritage Walk section in the lower part of the garden. Have your camera ready, because you’ll want to get a shot! Other interesting species to look for are a distinctive lemon yellow variety of A. arborescens, two-toned blooms such as A. wickensii, and the candelabra-shaped (and aptly named) A. candelabrum. You can also see many cultivars that were named and introduced by The Huntington, such as A. ‘Tangerine’ and A. ‘David Verity’, which were first made available to the horticultural trade through the botanical division’s International Succulent Introductions program. And if your visit to the Desert Garden inspires you to plant a few aloes of your own, you can browse through the ISI online catalog and order Huntington introductions to grow at home.


The two-toned A. ‘Tangerine’ is a Huntington introduction.

You can see more photos of The Desert Garden’s aloes in our Flickr photostream.

Got some great photos of your own?  You can share them on Flickr in The Huntington’s Desert Garden group pool.

Lisa Blackburn is communications coordinator at The Huntington.

7 thoughts on “Torch Bearers of the Desert Garden

  1. Thanks for sharing a link to your photos, Renee. Wonderful “bonus content” for our blog post! I’m sure they’ll inspire a lot of other visitors to come see the Desert Garden while the aloes are in bloom.

    • Hi Ophelia. Our Annual Spring Plant Sale will take place April 25-27. It’s open to Members all three days and to the general public on the afternoon of the 27th. Hope to see you there!

    • Hi, Greg. The Cactus and Succulent Society of America has its annual show and sale here at The Huntington later this month—on June 27 and 28, with an early-bird sale on Fri., June 26. Those will be free with general admission. There are also small plant sales each month following the Second Thursday Garden Talks. You can find more information by checking out the calendar on the Huntington website.

      Kate Lain
      New Media Developer

  2. Pingback: CACTUS RULES, OK! | the heart thrills

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *