Los Angeles is the “birdiest” county in the United States, said Karen Wise, vice president of education and exhibits for the Natural History Museum. One hundred sixty-eight types of birds have been documented in Exposition Park downtown alone, but the museum is hoping to attract even more with its new North Campus gardens. The 3.5 acres are designed to entice critters of all types, so the massive museum that, for 99 years, has documented the history of life on Earth transforms itself into a hands-on outdoor lab.
“We decided the best thing for our visitors was to build a landscape that could serve as a central field site and natural experience in the heart of the city that really allows us and all of L.A. to gather and document the real wildlife that’s living in L.A. today,” said Wise, whose museum houses more than 35 million natural and cultural objects indoors.
Everything in the new garden is designed to foster life. Winding through the space is the Living Wall, right, constructed from spears of stone that were installed vertically and planted with succulents to entice lizards. The 1913 Garden, so named for the year the museum opened, is a mosaic of colored flowers that is sure to delight hummingbirds.
Passion vines and Burmese honeysuckle grow in 12-foot-tall chain link cages that form the garden’s Urban Edge. The plants were selected because they are most effective at attracting butterflies. And a pond at the garden’s center will be populated with Western pond and red-eared slider turtles.