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Our hotel in Monrovia had been selected to give us easy access to The Huntington – it was right on Huntington Drive. It would have helped if I had taken this road heading south-west instead of to the north-east. Never mind, we were looking for a place to have breakfast and I realised that the foothills were on the ‘wrong’ side of the road as we parked up. The matter was corrected when we left.

The Huntington’s opening hours are 12:00 to 16:30 and despite our drive in the wrong direction, we still arrived one hour too early. I had expected her to be jet lagged, but her body clock was still 8 hours ahead of California, so had been rearing to go when I was still waking up. We found a Starbucks to kill time and entered these famous gardens soon after noon, straight to the Cactus Garden (there are several other themed gardens, including a Chinese and a Japanese Garden).

The mass planting of some of the cacti make a very photogenic subject, even though it does not reflect the way that the plants grow in nature. And I still have to get used to see South American cacti growing alongside Californian cacti or South African succulents.

The weather forecast had been for rain but we were glad to see that they had got it wrong, at least until we had arrived at our hotel and went out for a bite to eat before heading to the Orange County Cactus & Succulent Society at the Fullerton Arboretum, where a good crowd had gathered to see ‘What I Saw Last Winter 2010-2011’ – just the South American part.

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