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Gardens of LA

Santa Monica, CA
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Gardens of LA

Now that we've had some good rains, it's time to start thinking of enjoying the outdoors. The LA area has many public gardens to enjoy, as well as the pleasure of simply walking down a neighborhood street. One of the great benefits of our climate is how our gardens spill onto sidewalks for all to enjoy. Just please, don't pick the flowers! Often here in California, we grow our gardens with purpose. I, for example, plant flowers to attract beneficial insects. Honey bees need all our help, so enjoy the flowers, photograph them, but let the bees do their magic!

Botanical Gardens

Los Angeles Arboretum http://www.arboretum.org/ Large, well organized arboretum featuring mature trees from all over the world. Well paved paths to accommodate wheelchairs and strollers. Lots of peacocks strolling throughout the grounds. Best time to visit is spring, especially around Mother’s Day when the rose garden is in full bloom and the peacocks are displaying for one another.

Descanso Gardens http://www.descansogardens.org/ Large rose garden, largest camellia collection in the country, oak forest, Japanese garden. Best times to visit are March for the camellia blooms and April/May in the rose garden and native garden.

The Huntington http://www.huntington.org/ Wonderful garden and library. This garden is one of the best in the region. The new Chinese garden is the largest one outside of China.

South Coast Botanic Garden http://www.southcoastbotanicgarden.org/ Very nice Mediterranian garden, the only fuschia garden in LA and the dahlia garden are what distinguish this garden from others. In addition, this garden was built over an old landfill; from waste to beauty (http://southcoastbotanicgarden.org/history).

Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden http://www.rsabg.org/ Located in Claremont, this garden is dedicated to California native plants and trees. In addition to this beautiful garden, which is best visited between January and June, the city of Claremont boasts some of the nicest, mature trees lining the streets. From the City of Claremont website: “Claremont has been a winner of the National Arbor Day Association's Tree City USA award for 22 consecutive years. Early citizens planted trees when the city incorporated in 1907. Claremont is one of the few remaining places in North America with American Elm trees that have not been exposed to Dutch elm disease; the stately trees line Indian Hill Boulevard in the vicinity of the city's Memorial Park.”

Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden http://www.manhattanbeachbotanicalgarden.org/ Dedicated to sustainable, earth friendly gardening, this pretty native California plant garden is a nice retreat from a busy day on the beach or shopping.

Echo Park Lake discoverlosangeles.com/what-to-do/activities… This is a fun one! The park surrounds a lake, which used to be a reservoir. This is where the annual lotus festival is held (https:/…323724881276). The park is lovely, you can walk the entirety around the lake, rent paddle boats, or just enjoy the great view of downtown LA.

Tongva Park, Santa Monica. This park is a retreat from the busy downtown area. There are nice overlooks to the pier and ocean, a children’s play area, and lots of space with native plants and benches for quiet reflection.

Gardens at Museums/Universities/Historical Homes

The Getty Center and Getty Villa gardens www.getty.edu/visit/see_do/gardens.html Both of the gardens are intended to complement the buildings and art.

Mildred E. Methias Botanical Garden http://www.botgard.ucla.edu/ Part of the University of California Los Angeles, this is a quiet refuge in busy Westwood. Tropical and subtropical trees and plants.

UCLA Hannah Carter Japanese Garden http://www.japanesegarden.ucla.edu/

Exposition Park Rose Garden www.laparks.org/exporosegarden/rosegarden.htm Located near the Natural History Museum and the Science Center, this large, formal rose garden includes fountains and views of the lovely museum buildings. Best time to visit is April-August when the roses are in bloom.

Rancho Los Alamitos http://www.rancholosalamitos.com/index.html From their website: "Rancho Los Alamitos is twice listed on the National Register of Historic Places - once as the sacred Tongva village of Povuu’ngna, the traditional birthplace of the native people of the Los Angeles Basin and, second, for the evolution of its significant historic landscape over time. The site includes traces of the ancestral village, an adobe-core ranch house ca.1800, four acres of lush historic gardens developed during the 1920s and 30s, and the restored working ranch barnyard of the early-mid 20th century. With the opening of the Rancho Center, the film, new exhibits and room environments feature the landscape, the people and the place over time and within the context of the development of the region and the state."

Barnsdall Art Park http://www.barnsdall.org/ Home to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House, the house was designed in order to take advantage of the outdoor gardens.

Virginia Robinson Gardens http://www.robinsongardens.org/ From their website: “it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is open by appointment to the public. Located behind the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel, the beautiful six-acre property contains a breathtaking display garden, mansion and pool pavilion. A favorite destination for both local and international visitors, the property attracts a varied audience, from those interested in the history of Los Angeles and Beverly Hills to people who appreciate beautiful gardens and traditional design.”

Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine Temple http://www.lakeshrine.org/ This place is dedicated to meditation and reflection. While the public is welcome, it is not a place for noisy children, big picnics, or anything more than to quietly enjoy the lake, paths, and gardens.

Garden walks through LA area neighborhoods

Venice Canals …about.com/od/…Map-of-Venice--CA-Canals.htm Lovely walk along the Venice Canals. See nice homes and gardens, bridges, water views. Not a good walk for those with strollers as the sidewalks are very narrow and often walkers need to go single file to pass one another. Also not a good walk with large dogs for the same reason. No bicycles allowed.

North of Montana Ave., Santa Monica. Park just north of Montana and stroll the sidewalks of any of the tree shaded streets between Ocean and the city border to see well tended front yard gardens.

900 block of Harvard St. In May/June the Jacaranda trees that line this street are in full bloom. Bright periwinkle blue flowers cover this tree lined street.

Thousand Oaks...
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1. Re: Gardens of LA

Also -

The Japanese Garden in Van Nuys.

http://www.thejapanesegarden.com/index.html

The Gardens of The World in Thousand Oaks.

http://www.gardensoftheworld.info/

Los Angeles
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2. Re: Gardens of LA

Great list - I'd also add a couple:

James Irvine Japanese Garden at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center in Little Tokyo - http://www.jaccc.org/garden.php

and the gardens at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena - http://www.nortonsimon.org/garden

Rancho Santa...
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3. Re: Gardens of LA

I'm glad you included the lake in Echo Park. I've been meaning to post about it. The renovations were a long time coming. The city did a very good job. A walk was always a lively stroll. Now it is even nicer.

Santa Clara...
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4. Re: Gardens of LA

Japanese Gardens at Long Beach State. Free! (but donations accepted)

http://www.csulb.edu/~jgarden/aboutus/history.html

Hollywood trivial with the South Coast Botanical Gardens.... it was used in Dexter for many episodes.

Edited: 10:11 pm, March 03, 2014
Santa Clara...
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5. Re: Gardens of LA

Augh... sorry for the typos.

The LA Zoo is also officially a botanical garden too. http://www.lazoo.org/botanicalgardens/

But I am very upset at the yahoos who decided they can carve up and graffiti on the succulents/cacti. Most apparent if you take the perimeter road down the hill from the playground to the front entrance.

I know we are talking gardens, but I love going out to the desert to see the wildflowers too. I have shared this before: http://www.desertusa.com/wildflo/ca.html

One of the best daytrip was going to a random frontage road in Corona to see the most amazing hillside full of poppies and lupines. Though not sure if this is the year for that...

Edited: 10:17 pm, March 03, 2014
Santa Clara...
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6. Re: Gardens of LA

One last question.... so the lotus flowers ARE back at Echo Park? I went to the festivals when I lived in LA and watched the demise of the flower. So so sad that final year with the festival and NO lotus flowers.

Nashville, Tennessee
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7. Re: Gardens of LA

Yes the lotus flowers are back in Echo Park, since the park reopened after the 2 year restoration.

Edited: 11:49 pm, March 03, 2014
Santa Monica, CA
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8. Re: Gardens of LA

Lotus are back and the festival is scheduled for mid July this year.

Thanks for the reminder about the LA Zoo, chinata415. The only issue I have with the Zoo's botanical garden designation is that the plants aren't well marked. The reason I visit gardens is to plan my own, so identification is a plus! But it is beautifully landscaped and there are some very unusual trees and plants there.

Very cool information about South Coast BG and Dexter! I should have guessed, as filming was all over that region.

That carving into plants stuff ticks me off, too. The bamboo forest at the LA Arboretum (used in the filming of the first Anaconda movie) is all carved up, too. Some gardens have allowed this (World Garden on the BI of Hawaii, I recall), so now people think they can do that everywhere.

I have another link-filled post about the further-afield areas to explore, like the poppy reserve and Anza Borrego that I'm working on. It will also have the wildflower hotline; you can check bloom reports before you go.

Pasadena, California
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9. Re: Gardens of LA

Great list, Plumeria. Perhaps a DE can add this to the FAQs.

I'd like to plug the Huntington a little more. The former estate of railroad magnate Henry Huntington, it features a world-famous library, and a large number of art galleries in addition to the gardens. There are many "themed" gardens, including a magnificent Japanese garden dating to the turn of the 20th century, a rose garden, a fantastic cactus garden, the new and growing Chinese garden, and others, including tropical and Australian and a lovely hands-on interactive Children's Garden (best for ages 1-5).

The Huntington is one of the prime attractions in the LA area and is worth 1/2 day, at least, between the gardens and the galleries. If it was on the Westside of LA, where tourists tend to congregate, it would be wall to wall people. Being off the beaten track near Pasadena, it is tranquil year round.

Santa Clara...
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10. Re: Gardens of LA

Agree pasca that the Huntington is a gem. But perhaps it is a good thing it is not over run with people... I visited the Chinese garden soon after it opened. Would love to visit now that the plants are more mature and have tea and snacks. Folks should make a trip out to the SG Valley to see this and eat at Din Tai Fung. (world famous for their soup dumplings, xiao lung bao/XLB).