Since the Getty Center opened in 1997, it has become one of Southern California’s most popular attractions—both for its extensive artwork collection and the unique architecture and landscaping of the museum itself.
One of the center’s most impressive features is the 134,000-square-foot Central Garden designed by artist Robert Irwin. The sprawling green space contains over 500 species of plants from around the world, but when Irwin began work on the living sculpture in 1992, he knew very little about landscaping or horticulture.
The artist began by envisioning a concept that would present visitors with a dazzling display of color, light, and reflection. His design for the garden includes a walkway across a winding stream surrounded by a verdant array of flora (new plants are continually added to the garden as the piece continues to evolve over time).
Towering 20-foot tall bougainvillea arbors dot the landscape, while a floating maze of azalea hedges provides the garden with a dramatic centerpiece.
The garden’s playful landscaping looks especially spectacular from above. The arced pathways and rows of flowers provide a geometric counterpoint to the museum’s swooping design.
Carved into the floor of the garden plaza are the words “Always changing, never twice the same,” a testament to the garden’s tendency to transform over time, as old plants grow and new plants are welcomed into the fold.