Arlington Garden is Many Things
- Arlington Garden is Pasadena’s only dedicated public garden. Pasadena has 25 parks and great natural open spaces in the Arroyo Seco and Eaton Canyon. Pasadena also has several plazas and significant public landscaping. But Pasadena has only one dedicated public garden. Arlington Garden is an example of urban open space, which are uses called for in Pasadena’s Green Space, Recreation and Parks Element and Open Space and Conservation Element to the General Plan, such as plazas, paseos, and gardens, that are appropriate throughout the City where sites are too small or expensive for traditional parks.
- Arlington Garden is unique among all open public places in Pasadena. There is simply no place else like Arlington Garden in Pasadena, or elsewhere in the San Gabriel Valley. Its Italian style olive allee, numerous succulent and cactus gardens, an Arroyo Seco like pathway flanked by sycamores leading to a vernal pool, orange grove laid out in grids like historical California orange groves, paths and benches set throughout plant communities, and its “surprises around every corner,” make Arlington Garden an indescribable Pasadena landmark which has to be visited if it is to be appreciated.
- Arlington Garden is open every day of the year for visiting at no charge. Individuals, families, students, artists, photographers visit Arlington Garden daily for education and enjoyment. The Garden’s layout and moveable furniture invite people to come in and stay rather than be quickly ushered in and out.
- Arlington Garden is a demonstration of successful waterwise gardening in Pasadena’s Mediterranean climate. Pasadena needs plant life that does well in our wet winters, hot, dry summers, and temperate falls and springs, to demonstrate how beautiful and effective a garden in harmony with our climate can be. Arlington Garden is home to 350 trees and thousands of Mediterranean climate plants that do well with low to moderate watering, and features California natives, cactus and succulents, South African and Australian natives, irrigated by low flow devices that use less than half the water demanded by traditional parks.
- Arlington Garden is a valuable horticultural garden. Arlington Garden is home to a great variety of rare and endangered California Natives and promotes the conservation of rare plant species and their communities from throughout the Californian floristic province. Through the inclusion of rare species in an urban landscape, Arlington Garden highlights the unique biological heritage of California that is in danger of being lost. Vernal pools, alluvial sage scrub, bunch grasslands, and oak woodlands are imperiled plant communities that are featured prominently within the Garden. Native coast live oaks, Engelmann oaks, valley oaks, California bay laurels, and California sycamores are keystone species in Southern Californian ecosystems and have gained special protected status in Pasadena, Los Angeles County, and the State of California. Threatened native plants featured in Arlington Garden include San Diego ambrosia, bush anemone, rainbow manzanita, and big cone spruce. Specimens of cardon, the world’s largest cactus, and boojum, a tree-like relative of the ocotillo, are prominent species of Baja Californian flora that once existed on the coastal plains of California.
- Arlington Garden is home to a great variety of birds and animals. Arlington Garden provides shade, shelter, food, and water for a great variety of small animals and birds. Neighbors have said that few birds live on their street because “all the birds live in Arlington Garden.”
- Arlington Garden is a sustainable land use. Arlington Garden contains walls, paths, an amphitheater, and sculpture, all made from over 20 tons of reclaimed concrete. A swale running the length of the Arlington Drive parkway and a series of berms placed throughout the Garden catch and retain thousands of gallons of rainwater after each rain. At least 20 growing trees in the Garden have come from seed, and our annual wildflower display is entirely from seeds produced from last year’s wildflowers. Our orange grove produces hundreds of pounds of oranges, which are made into marmalade that supports the Garden’s care and maintenance. In 2009, Arlington Garden used 17% of the water used at Singer Park, a neighborhood park of the same size just two blocks away. More recently, in July, 2011, Arlington Garden used less water per acre than every other park in Pasadena save one, Washington Park, and the usage was nearly identical.
- Arlington Garden is a place to find serenity in an urban setting. Arlington Garden has brought the serenity of nature to the City. A classical seven circuit labyrinth, a raised urbanite poppy set in the middle of the meadow, paths winding through trees and plants, and benches set throughout the Garden allow one to stroll or sit and experience some peace and quiet. A Pasadena middle school girl replied to her teacher in a simple yet eloquent way that she likes the Garden because she can “hear my thoughts here.”
- Arlington Garden is an educational laboratory. Arlington Garden educates the public about rare plants and their communities, to champion their conservation in nature while encouraging their use in California friendly landscaping. USC School of Landscape Design observes the Garden each season to understand its seasonal nature. Local elementary, middle and high schools use Arlington Garden as a place to learn of drought tolerant plants, low water use, the seasonality of plants and trees. Girl Scout troops have harvested wildflower seeds and replanted them elsewhere, Eagle Scouts built water saving berms and swales, Mayfield Senior School sophomores built a 7 circuit classical labyrinth, which people use each day. Homeowners and landscape designers get ideas from the Garden, and photographers and painters come alone or with a class to record the seasonal beauty of the Garden.
- Arlington Garden came about through an exceptional public/private collaboration. Arlington Garden is a collaboration among Betty and Charles McKenney, the City of Pasadena, and Pasadena Water & Power, who combined to create Pasadena’s only dedicated public garden, on property leased by the City from Caltrans. This rare collaboration has encouraged others to recognize that urban open spaces are a valuable kind of land use and to embark on similar projects throughout Pasadena.
- Arlington Garden is identified in Pasadena’s Green Space, Recreation and Parks Element and the Open Space and Conservation Element of the General Plan as an example of urban open space. With the increasing scarcity and cost of land, Pasadena’s General Plan has recognized that creative kinds of land use can provide open space akin to park space for people to gather and obtain serenity in an urban setting.
- Arlington Garden has introduced the most advanced system of signage and information delivery by using mobile technology. The system, using a specially designed Arlington Garden Guide app, identifies plants and their characteristics, various areas of the Garden, using a scanner, a camera and an “audio tour.” The system is being copied and introduced in several gardens and park sites in Southern California.