Nestled in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, just a short drive from downtown Los Angeles, lies a true botanical treasure: Descanso Gardens. This stunning 150-acre oasis is home to a wide variety of native and exotic plant species, as well as numerous walking trails, tranquil ponds, and scenic vistas. Whether you’re a nature lover, a photographer, or simply looking for a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, Descanso Gardens is a must-visit destination.
Descanso Gardens was originally part of the sprawling Rancho del Descanso, a Spanish land grant given to Corporal Jose Maria Verdugo in 1784. Over the years, the land changed hands several times and was eventually acquired by newspaper publisher and philanthropist E. Manchester Boddy in the 1930s. Boddy and his wife, however, had a different vision for the property: they wanted to transform it into a world-class botanical garden that would showcase the beauty and diversity of California’s plant life.
After years of planning and construction, Descanso Gardens opened to the public in 1953. Since then, it has become one of Southern California’s premier horticultural destinations, attracting over 200,000 visitors each year.
Descanso Gardens is home to several distinct garden areas, each with its own unique character and charm. The Camellia Forest is a serene and shaded grove that showcases over 700 camellia plants, many of them rare and exotic varieties. The Rose Garden is a riot of color and fragrance, with hundreds of rose bushes in full bloom during the spring and summer months. The Japanese Garden, with its tranquil koi ponds, winding paths, and traditional tea house, is a peaceful retreat that offers a glimpse into the beauty and tranquility of Japanese culture.
For those interested in native California plants, the Oak Woodland is a must-see. This shady and peaceful area is home to numerous species of oaks, as well as a variety of other native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers. The Lilac Garden, meanwhile, showcases the beauty and diversity of this fragrant and beloved California native.
In addition to its stunning gardens, Descanso Gardens is also home to numerous walking trails that wind through its natural areas. The Descanso Lake Trail, for example, is a peaceful and scenic walk that takes you around the gardens’ tranquil lake, past waterfalls, and through beautiful groves of trees. The Nature’s Table Trail is a guided hike that explores the gardens’ unique ecology and natural history, while the Promenade is a leisurely stroll through the heart of the gardens that takes you past some of its most beautiful sights and landscapes.
Throughout the year, Descanso Gardens hosts a variety of events and activities that celebrate the beauty and diversity of the natural world. During the summer months, the gardens host a popular outdoor concert series, with live music performances by some of the region’s best artists. Other annual events include a cherry blossom festival, a pumpkin festival, and a holiday light show.
Whether you’re a botany buff, a nature lover, or simply looking for a beautiful and peaceful oasis in the heart of Southern California, Descanso Gardens is a destination that should not be missed. With its stunning gardens, tranquil ponds, and numerous walking trails, it’s the perfect place to escape the city and reconnect with nature.