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Are you a plant nut? Take the Getty Villa Garden Tour. Perhaps you already guessed that the herbs, trees, bushes and flowers in these gardens are approximately what would have been planted at an ancient Roman villa, since the building is a re-creation of the Villa Papyri, buried when Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79. It may, however, surprise you to learn that each plant had a specific medicinal, culinary or mythological use. The plants were so highly functional, in fact, that citizens could live a capsule existence within the villa if need be. If you get docent Donald Peterson as your tour guide, he'll regale you with tales of Mithridates, the Poison King, Rome's public enemy No. 1, a genius with natural toxins — and antidotes. Peterson is full of fascinating lore. Did you know that Roman soldiers drank catnip tea as a stimulant before battle? Or that water lilies, bay laurel and hellebore are all narcotics? Or that pomegranate bark has antibacterial properties? After this tour, you may never look at a tree the same way again. —Gendy Alimurung

17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades, 90272. (310) 440-7300, getty.edu.

LA Weekly