Temple Era


Temple’s Garden: 1840s –1866

Temple Garden SketchJohn Temple lived in Los Angeles, but had the Monterey Colonial adobe built at his cattle ranch in the 1840s.  Behind the house he added a two-acre colonial-style garden like those popular during his youth in Massachusetts. California’s climate enabled him to incorporate plants that would never have withstood the hard freezes of a New England winter.

Juan Temple's GardenAn alee lined with the subtropical orange trees led from the central back door to the Moorish style summer house, which served as the focal point amidst the raised garden beds. These beds were planted with fruit trees, grapes, flowering shrubs and perennials. Italian cypress provided vertical accents, and in time became landmarks for travelers. A perimeter planting of black locust trees added seasonal interest. These plants undoubtedly came from local mission stock, trading ships and the east coast. The museum’s archives include letters from Temple to his half brother in Massachusetts where he requested seeds of black locust, peach and plum to plant here at his rancho.

Native Americans used a water ram to divert water from the river below for irrigation and tended the garden. Temple eventually dug a well and built a cistern within the garden, making it easier to water the planting beds.