Behind the Scenes, Gardens and Architecture, Getty Center

Summer in the Getty Garden

The annual theme for summer in the Central Garden designed by Robert Irwin is color—and lots of it. Here, a plant preview


Spring is said to be the most colorful season, but we can’t wait for you to see the Getty Center’s summer garden in full bloom. As the summer heats up in June and July, all the delights of a summer garden are yours to experience: tantalizing color, rich textures, shaded pathways, and a flurry of aromas and sounds.


While saying goodbye to our gorgeous spring-blooming California poppies isn’t easy, it’s thrilling to see the rainbow of dahlias in our greenhouse getting ready for planting. Expected to grow up to four feet and fill the garden with every color of the rainbow, the dahlias will be stunning. By artist Robert Irwin’s design, the garden beds will be so robust and spilling over with color, texture, and aroma, you won’t be able to see from one path to another. You’ll truly be immersed in the garden as a work of art.


The dahlias are patiently awaiting their planting rotation in the Getty Center nursery.

A Rainbow Connection

By mid-July, blooms in every color of the rainbow will be exploding from the Central Garden. From banana-shaped kangaroo paws to magnetic red sunsets over the Pacific, the garden will be alive with colorful energy. Don’t forget all the varieties of dahlias!

Coprosma (Pacific Sunset)

Coprosma ‘Pacific Sunset’ features dramatic russet and off-black foliage

Textures at Play

Cousin IT to the left, and a detail of Little John's distinct curly flowers.

The lush green of Casuarina ‘Cousin It'; distinct curly flowers of Callistemon ‘Little John’

Summer is about bounty, and to build out the richness in the garden, small shrubs such as Casuarina ‘Cousin It’ are planted to provide both green and fullness. Look for other interesting textures that will soon make their appearance, too: the bottlebrush cultivar ‘Little John,’ recognizable by its little curlicue flowers, can found both in containers and down in the Bowl Garden, around the azaleas. And just in time for 4th of July, the affectionately named firework plants—ornamental alliums in the same family as chives and onions—will be bursting with dried spikes and seeds. Early-season bloomers, these amazing plants are left to gracefully weather in the early-summer garden, acting like botanical punctuation marks.

Alliums gone to seed

This spring’s alliums remain in the garden through early summer, offering an unusual sculptural beauty

The Getty gardens are full of interesting little details worth your time to stop and observe. The lime-and-black leaves of the begonia variety shown below look like little frogs ready to spring from their pot.

"Leprechaun" begonia

Begonia ‘Leprechaun,’ aka frogs cuddling

Charged By the Sun

Like a solar lamp, Brazilian angel’s trumpets with their dramatic leaves soak up the sun during the day and buzz with delightful aroma in the evenings. The Getty’s summer evening hours mean you can catch sunset and a whiff of the sun-kissed flowers on an evening garden stroll. And if you look carefully at the grapevine-covered trellis, you might see bunches of purple grapes tucked into the shaded cover.

Grapes on a trellis

Grapes on a trellis

The scene is set! Enjoy an evening stroll, a picnic with a bottle of wine, a sunset, and the aroma and sounds of the garden around you.

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      It’s been 125 years since Van Gogh’s death, today we celebrate his life’s work.

      5 Ways to See Van Gogh’s Irises

      Through observations, visitor conversations, and some sneaky eavesdropping, we’ve compiled the top 5 ways people enjoy this painting.

      1. In a Crowd
        One of the most obvious ways that people see the painting is in a crowd. The gallery is almost always filled, and you might have to wait before you can get up close. The anticipation builds as you start in the back row, and slowly move until you are close enough to see the brushstrokes of Van Gogh’s thick paint.

      2. Online
        David from Colorado said that this was his first visit, but he had already seen the painting online. In addition to being available through the Getty’s Open Content program, the painting is often seen on social media. Just search #irises on Instagram for a taste of the painting’s popularity. 

      3. Alone
        If you arrive right at 10 a.m. when the museum opens, the quiet gallery provides a perfect backdrop to really examine the painting. Solitude and seclusion gives the gallery a sense of intimacy. 

      4. Multiple Times
        Repeat visits can give rise to multiple interpretations. Is it a melancholy or joyous painting? Expressive or depressive? 

      5. Internationally
        Visitors from all across the world viewed this famous Van Gogh. In just one hour you can hear multiple languages—French, Italian, Chinese, Korean, German, and more. Irises seems to rise above cultural boundaries—a Dutch painting inspired by Japanese ukiyo-e prints—to strike an emotional resonance amongst all viewers. 

      What is your favorite lens to view Van Gogh’s work through? 


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