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.
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
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.
Bumble Ward is a blogger and writer living in Los Angeles. She grew up with a Norwegian mother and an English father and spent every summer on an island in the Oslo fjord. www.misswhistle.com
London - British Isles
by Nancy Ellison