The Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge has magnificent displays of flowers along with wooded trails, ponds, wildlife and much, much more. In Southern California’s temperate climate, many flowering plants are in season all year around but each month after spring arrives, certain gardens are at their peak in incredible color and profusion.
For us “cold weather”, lilac-lover transplants, experience the fragrant lilac varieties in March and April, a number cultivated especially for the So Cal climate. The extraordinary rose gardens - spread out over five acres in all varieties, color and fragrance - are an incredible treat starting in May.
It is hard to know where to begin in planning your visit with all the programs, activities and visual beauty offered at Descanso Gardens throughout the year. The 160+-acre property includes its unique and separate garden varieties; restaurants-including a Japanese Full-Moon Tea House, a 1930’s mansion to tour, tram and railways to ride on, art classes, horticulture lectures and workshops. There are a number of activities geared toward children as well. The Descanso Gardens Website guides the visitor to all the many events offered. Some programs and activities are for members only and others are free with general admission.
Each month has highlighted events surrounding the particular flowers in the height of their blooms. February is for camellias-Descanso Gardens has the proud distinction of housing the most camellia plants in North America with over 34,000 of popular and rare species in its gardens. On Saturday, February 27, 2010, there will be guided tours of the camellia gardens.
Examples of spring activities for all visitors include:
• March Earth Day Celebration – Sunday, March 17, 9am to 5pm
• March Spring Plant Sale – Friday and Saturday, March 26, 27, 9am to 4pm
• April Easter Brunch and Egg Hunt – Saturday and Sunday, April 3, 4 9am, 10:30am, Noon and 1:30pm seatings
• April Botanic Bling Jewelry and trunk show – Sunday, April 18, 9am to 4:30pm
The San Rafael hills provide the natural “bowl” that the Descanso Gardens are set in. The first inhabitants of the area were the Los Angeles basin's Gabrielino Indians. Later the garden and surrounding area were created into a Rancho when California was under Spanish rule; a more than 36,000 acre site that was deeded to the Verdugo family who owned the property from 1794 to 1869. Over the next sixty years or so, the property was subdivided, owned and sold by a number of parties.
In 1937, the 167 acres that comprise Descanso Gardens was purchased by Elias Manchester Boddy who was the current owner of the Los Angeles Daily News. Boddy transformed this undeveloped parcel of land by building a two-story mansion of 22 rooms in Hollywood Regency Style overlooking 25 acres of live oak forest and his camellia flowers naming it Rancho del Descanso-meaning "rest" or "repose" in Spanish. He became a premier camellia grower and ran a commercial business on his property. In 1953, the site was sold to Los Angeles County which with the help of many non-profit organizations and grants has further developed the property into a world class horticultural venue.
Early on, the mission of the Gardens was to be proponents of native plants. A 15-acre section is dedicated to showing these varieties that thrive with the natural climate and rainfall of California. David R. Brown, Executive Director of Descanso Gardens, notes: “...the environment of the 2010s challenges Descanso to find, cultivate, display and celebrate the beauty that is found right here in Southern California, or brought from climates similar to our own. Finding a new and native beauty requires us to appreciate the resources we have, naturally.”
1418 Decanso Drive
La Cañada Flintridge CA 91011
Open: Daily 9am to 5pm (except Christmas Day)
Admission: General $8; Children 5-12, $3; Members and Children under 5 free
Tram Tour: $4 (check Tue-Sun schedules on operating times)
Enchanted Railroad: $3
Boddy House and Heritage Exhibit: 10am to 4pm Saturdays and Sundays; docent-led tours on weekends at noon. Free with Garden admission
There is a picnic area available adjacent to parking lot
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