This golden angels’ trumpet (Brugmansia suaveolens) stood in our gardens since before the Getty Center opened. It was planted under the supervision of artist Robert Irwin, designer of the Central Garden, and has been a fragrant addition to evenings at the Center since 1996.

Unfortunately, the tree was dying over the last year. Its leaves grew small, its branches weak. No plant lives forever, and this specimen had simply reached the end its natural lifespan. It was time for it to be replaced.

Removing a garden focal point is a difficult process, and you may notice the garden looks a little emptier than usual. “It’s 19 years old,” horticulturist Michael DeHart told me as I photographed the process this past Monday. “I remember where I was standing when it was planted. I watched from the pool before it had water in it. For me, it’s kind of a sad day!”

But never fear: This patch of the bowl garden around the azalea maze has been transformed into a sun garden with a new, smaller angels’ trumpet and heat-loving plants: red campion (Silene ‘Clifford Moor’), solar fire (Ursinia anthemoides), California poppies (Eschscholzia californica), and mask flower (Alonsoa meridionalis ‘Apricot’).

Here’s a peek into the process, an ode to our dearly departed tree, and a shoutout to the awesome garden staff who keep this living artwork alive.


The new angels’ trumpet arrived the night before, and waited near the maintenance road behind the garden.


It took three strong garden crew members to load the tree onto a dolly.


A weaving way to reach the planting location.


The old angels’ trumpet is removed branch by branch.






The remaining trunk is almost like a sculpture.


A bit of forceful wiggling releases the roots.



Michael shapes the new tree, making sure no branches overlap.


The new tree is in position! The wooden planter breaks away.


It’s complete! A new life in the Central Garden.


Before: Shade beneath the old angel’s trumpet kept the soil moist and shade-loving plants happy.


After: Plantings in the new sun garden.