National Gardens Day: Getty Villa, Malibu

Traveling with a camera might mean doing away with an itinerary given my sheer disregard for time. On a recent trip to Getty Villa in Malibu, I didn’t step foot in the museum because I was too busy exploring its gardens. Up until closing time, I was experimenting with “depth of field” on purple blooms.

A few weeks ago I learned of National Public Gardens Day. On May 11, the American Public Gardens Association (APGA) encourages people to visit their local public garden and learn about their impact on the greater community.

Sponsored by the APGA and Rain Bird, National Public Gardens Day helps raise awareness of the botanic gardens, arboreta, conservatories and public gardens across the country.*

I came across the information when I was entering a photo competition held by the association. (NB: US residents, you may be interested in entering the competition here. Entries close on May 15.)  Scanning the webpage, I noticed that Getty Villa would be participating is the day’s celebrations.

I immediately thought back to my recent visit to the museum where I spent the whole time in its Mediterranean-inspired gardens. Set in the mountains and overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the Villa marries the best of both worlds. Its gardens are immaculate and have a variety of flora on show.

If you can’t make it to a public garden on May 11, enjoy these photos as a second option. I have written about the Getty Villa – it was one of my first blog posts and you can read it here.



Imagine inhaling the salty sweet smell of the ocean.

In the image below, you’ll notice Santa Monica and Venice Beach in the distance.

The Villa mixes Italian Renaissance architecture and Modernism. I took five shots of the space at different angles. I thought I’d experiment with black and white to better show the details.

The gardens are to the left; the ocean, in the background.

Mid afternoon shadows create a linear pathway towards the Pacific.

The design of the Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater, a classical outdoor theater, was based on ancient prototypes. Even around two in the afternoon, the sun feels too warm to sit under without shade.

The Villa’s symmetrical gardens.

The Italian Renaissance Garden: The Medici, the ruling dynasty of Florence, used gardens to demonstrate their own power and magnificence. “During the first half of the sixteenth century, magnificence came to be perceived as a princely virtue, and all over the Italian peninsula architects, sculptors, painters, poets, historians and humanist scholars were commissioned to concoct a magnificent image for their powerful patrons.” wikipedia

Around the corner, the Herb Garden is edged by palms, coloured with blossoms, and planted with herbs. In ancient times, such gardens provided the kitchen with medicinal and fragrant ingredients for cooking.

Vines climbing a pergola.

This ladybug demanded my camera’s attention.

This was just before the lady bug threw in the towel and flew away, despite a potential career in modelling.

My favourite thing to do is experiment with depth of field. Here, I practise on a corsican helleborus.

When I visited, this plum tree was not yet bearing fruit. I do love its  twisted trunk – it looks like someone is wringing out a wet towel.

The pomegranate tree sported a tiny pop of red. I wonder how much it has grown.

Fragrant lavender adds a provincial touch.

The palm is to Los Angeles what the eucalyptus is to Sydney.

Fields of orange pretty up the ground cover.

These are called Stachys Byzantina Leaves – or lamb’s ear, in layman’s English. Their fuzz is as soft as wool.

The museum shop is always on my to-do list.

The shop is where the crowds hang out.

Before leaving, I experimented with some depth of field on this sweet, purple-veined flower…

Back to the car park. Happy Gardens Day!



40 thoughts on “National Gardens Day: Getty Villa, Malibu

  1. Oh I can smell the salty air from the ocean. The Getty Villa in Malibu is such a great place to capture with a camera.Great images Marina . As always I love your writing. Though I love the elevator image. Have you been at the Getty Museum up the Hills on the Getty Drive, built by Richard Meier, the architecture is incredible.

    • Hi Cornelia, thanks for your comment! Getty Villa is one of my favourite places and the sea air was such a welcome inhale; you know you’ve been away from the ocean for too long when that smell revitalises you instantly. I have been to the Getty Center and agree – a space to get lost in. I didn’t make it there on this trip unfortunately. Next time! Thank you.

  2. Itineraries are essential in planning a trip……then definitely best, thrown straight out of the window, as soon as you’re underway. 🙂
    And I love the phrase ‘Layman’s English’………

    • Tricia! It’s so hard not to get immersed in the details though I have noticed that sometimes I get lost in the bigger picture. A catch 22 for sure. Thank you! So happy you liked this set 🙂

    • One post later, and you’re already using the word journey! Love it! When you’re in Cali next, Malibu is a place to visit for sure, and its Getty Villa. Glad you liked this one Syders. Thank you!

  3. Soon after the Getty museum on Sepulveda Blvd opened up I went and took photos. I spent most of the time taking pictures outside and didn’t spend much time inside. The gardens had just been planted so there wasn’t many plants. I took photos of the view and architecture.

    • Karen, I hope you may get to the Getty Center and Getty Villa soon; they are endless in their inspirations. I also enjoy meandering outside, looking at the buildings and gardens 🙂

    • Hey 2 Rivers! I know- I gotta keep it current because NY is always happening, but I have so many LA pics that I live vicariously through. Wait till I go somewhere else for a few days… it will be a mashup! Looking forward to that 🙂 Thanks!

  4. It’s really fun to follow your photographic pursuit and see how you play with depth of field and other camera settings. Your day in Getty Villa resulted in some beautiful pictures, and although I like them all, the one that really stands out the number two, the one in black and white. What makes it so interesting, besides the strong graphics, is the positioning of the people around in the frame, inside and out, they create a very dynamic pattern. For me they seem like statues, not alive, which make the picture even more interesting because it triggers my thoughts and awareness. I also really like the picture of the lavenders, for its simplicity.

    • Hi Otto! I am glad you liked these photos – i did crop the lavender shot a little 😉 I decided to convert the second image to b/w yesterday as the architectural lines looked more defined. I thought the same about the people; they reminded me of little toy people, which is an effect that tilt shift does quite well? You make a good point about ‘triggering thoughts and awareness” – I’ll need to keep that in mind in future endeavours. Thank you!

  5. I want to be there and inhale that sweet salty smell of that blue ocean, it’s like paradise! Reading your post made me dream of being there myself as if I was walking with you 🙂 Great pictures, I miss summer, can’t wait for it, it’s been cold and raining everyday here for about 2 months now… Have a nice weekend! 🙂

    • I cannot wait for the summer too Kristina! Maybe this is why i love posting about California so much. I am glad you can enjoy the photos too – they bring sunlight through the computer!! Thank you, and have a wonderful weekend also 🙂

  6. Gorgeous Marina! I can’t decide what I would like better – a jump in the salty ocean or that glorious pool! The Shasta daisy with the ladybug is my favorite shot today – so very perfect! xox!

    • That pool is…. like a pond! A water feature 🙂 So I think the ocean would work better!! That lady bug was definitely entertaining, but got sick of me after a while! Thanks Shira – so happy it is your fave shot of the day 🙂

      • A pond! Too funny!!! It looked like a glorious pool – perfect for me to jump in (and I don’t even like water!!) Haha! I’ll stick to the ocean 🙂 Happy Saturday Marina!

      • You don’t like water?? how is that possible?? Not a day goes by that I don’t wish I was in some clear water in Hawaii. Bikram is so heated up these days 😉 Happy Saturday to you too!!

  7. Pingback: The Gardens of Southern California | Marina Chetner

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