Just the Facts, Ma'am
What: Descanso Gardens
Where: 1418 Descanso Drive, La Canada Flintridge, CA 91011
Hours: 7 days a week, 9am-5pm
Cost: $8 General Admission, cheaper prices for children, seniors, students, etc. Free for members.
Why: 160 acres of gardens, Walking tours, Tram tours, Enchanted Railroad for the wee folk, Local history at the Boddy House, Fitness and Horticulture classes, Cafe, Gift Shop, Lots and lots of sprawling beauty
More Information: Descanso Gardens Website
I visited Descanso Gardens for the first time ever yesterday. And today, I have not been able to think of anything else.
Okay, that may be a slight exaggerration, but I have fallen hard for this place. I do love a good garden, and this place has several.
Once I was inside the gate, I made my way directly to the Japanese Garden. I had spent enough time on the Descanso website to know about the tea house nestled among the bamboo and angular trees. On weekends, the tea house serves tea, Sake, Japanese beer, and a few modest Japanese dishes. Tea lover that I am, I could not turn down the opportunity to enjoy a pot of loose leaf Sencha Tea in the presence of such calming beauty. I sat in the tea house for about an hour, sipping tea out of a clay cup and listening to a stream trickle its way into the Koi pond. This respite was exactly what I needed to quiet my obsessive mind enough to enjoy the day ahead.
My only regret about the tea house? No bathrooms. Perhaps most of their patrons are not so gluttonous as to claim an entire pot of tea for themselves. But I am, and I was annoyed to have to walk back to the main entrance just for the ladies' room.
Having experience the tea house (my one specific goal for the day) I took advantage of my lack of agenda and wandered as the spirit moved me. I discovered paved roads, dusty paths and a few hidden passages in among rose bushes and camellias. I found myself getting a little unexpected exercise as I wound my way up steep hillsides, and I also came upon several dozen opportunities for rest, as there are countless benches placed unobtrusively throughout the gardens. I turned a corner to find a woman reading a novel in the shade of live oak. I came up over a hill to find a couple sharing the view from a strategically placed bench. And near the end of my visit, I myself sought rest at a swell in the garden stream as I curled up on the bench with a favorite book.
What I Missed
Seriously. These memberships always seem too frivolous for a young writer at the dawn of her career. Nevertheless, I am genuinely considering this. $60 gets a single person free entrance to the park 364 days of the year, discounts on classes, discounts in the gift shop and cafe, and early entrance (8am) every day.
The Boddy House Tour
The Gardens were originally the home of E. Manchester Boddy, publisher of the Los Angeles Daily News. He called his estate "Rancho del Descanso," which means "ranch of rest" . . . a rather appropriate name. Boddy's beautiful ranch house remains on the property, and visitors can get a formal tour of the house any Saturday or Sunday at noon.
Classes and Events
Descanso offers a wide range of classes and events, most of which come with a fee. As far as I'm concerned, the fitness classes offer the greatest appeal, with programs such as Yoga and Fitness Walk, Hula in the Gardens, and Garden Shovel Aerobics. Descanso also hosts fun events like wine tastings and a nighttime tour of the Gardens.