Flower Power at Descanso Garden

2 minutes read

Nestled in San Gabriel Mountains, Descanso Garden is a flowerily escape from Los Angeles. Explore this botanical garden offering year-long bloom and festivals.

A pinch of history

  • Tongva people, the “people of the earth,” lived in the area before European settlers.
  • In the 1930s, El Rancho del Descanso was newspaper publisher Manchester Boddy’s home.
  • It became a public garden in 1953 when LA County acquired it for $1,160 million.
  • When the property was on sale, Walt Disney was interested to build Disneyland on this site.


Botanical Gardens and beyond

Along with nine botanical collections, Descanso Gardens is a year-round place to intensify senses. From the colorful rose garden to the peaceful Japanese garden, reconnect with nature and enjoy wildlife.



Appreciate the diversity of plants and species, get lost into the gardens, enjoy the perfume of flowers, listen to bird’s musicals, and learn more about Californian natural vegetation. Most important: take your time to chill and relax!

Japanese Garden

If you’re on the clock, don’t miss the Japanese Garden (many plants came from Japan), the Camelia forest (see below) and the Rose garden.

This latest includes more than 3,000 roses and 600 varieties over five acres. Initially, it was managed by horticulturist Dr. Walter E. Lammerts. Among the large range of hybrid he created, will you find “Queen Elizabeth”? It was his first creation.


The Descanso Garden is also featuring a house museum, a modern art gallery, and a miniature railroad.


Did you know? “A rose’s perfume is strongest in the early morning when the sun hits the petals and releases oils.” (Source Descanso Garden)



The bloom of festivals

Descanso Garden offers a large range of activities like gardening tutorials, yoga, summer concerts, and festivals. Spring celebration (March), the Enchanted: Forest of Light (November to January), Halloween, Rose festival (May), and Japanese Garden festival (October) and are among the most popular.

Spring celebration – March

I experienced the spring bloom two years ago. Even if the garden was crowded, I enjoyed the color and perfume of blossoming flowers, especially tulips and roses. Who used to say that there are no seasons in Los Angeles?



The “Old Verdugo”

The “Old Verdugo” is a 400 years old oak tree. During the Spanish and Mexican periods, it serves as a boundary marker for three different ranchos including el Rancho La Cañada. Indeed, oak trees are massive trees, visible enough to limit properties.



Did you know? Tvonga people used Oak trees as a source for food and medicine.



The camellias

With more than 10,000 camellias over 16 acres, this collection is the largest in the US.


In 1937, Mr. Boddy started it for floral trade with the East coast. Indeed, camellias were popular and bloom during winter. During World War II, he developed his plantation buying 60,000 camellia plants from two Japanese (Nota Bene: In February 1942, following President Roosevelt’s executive orders, Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps. They sold then their properties and businesses). After that, the camellia garden has expanded thanks to additional purchases, the creation of hybrids and donations.


Did you know? Camellias are blooming from October to May with a peak in January-February.




Ready to step into nature?


  • Location: 1418 Descanso Drive La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011.
  • Hours: 9am-5pm.
  • Admission: $9 for adults and $4 for children. Free the third Tuesday of the month
  • Duration: I spent 3h00 hours to discover it and chill.
  • Parking: Free on-site lot
  • You can’t bring food inside but the Café Descanso provides dining options
  • More information available at https://www.descansogardens.org/


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