Henry Huntington began developing the Botanical Gardens in 1903. Now they span nearly 150 acres with sweeping lawns and vistas interspersed with statuary, tempiettos, and benches. Approximately 15,000 kinds of plants from all over the world make up the botanical collections, many landscaped into a series of theme gardens. Landscapes include the Japanese, desert, rose, camellia, palm, subtropical, jungle, lily ponds, herb, and Australian gardens. Specialized displays include the North Vista, the Zen and bonsai courts, the art gallery rockery, the desert garden conservatory, and many more.
Behind the scenes, new collections from Mexico, South America, South Africa, and other countries are cultivated for planting in the gardens or for distribution to other botanical gardens, plant science professionals, and amateur horticulturists. The International Succulent Introductions program propagates rare and endangered species and makes them available to the public in order to discourage the collection of those species in the wild.
Many shows, seminars, and symposia focusing on botany and horticulture are held throughout the year.