Tuesday, April 2, 2024

South Coast Botanic Garden


The South Coast Botanic Garden, located just south of Los Angeles in Palo Verdes Peninsula, California, is a lovely 87-acre garden that contains over 2500 species of plants.  Visitors can see plants from all over the world, including places like Australia, South Africa, and the Mediterranean.

Founded in 1961, the garden is actually a collection of gardens.  Visitors can enjoy a Mediterranean garden, rose garden, cactus garden, herb garden, Japanese garden, and a cute little children's garden.

The garden is open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM every day except Christmas.  Admission for adults is $8.00.  Admission for children is $3.00.

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Descanso Gardens


The Descanso Gardens, located in La Canada Flintridge, California, is a lovely place to visit if you are ever in southern California.  It covers 160 acres and was founded in 1953 by newspaper magnate, E. Manchester Boddy, who owed the Los Angeles Daily News.

Descanso Gardens is known as the "garden of gardens."  There are several beautiful gardens on the property, including a Japanese garden, a rose garden, a lilac garden, and a California Native Garden.  Visitors can also ride the Enchanted Railroad, which is a replica of a diesel train that takes visitors around a section of the garden.

The garden is open daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  Admission for adults is $8.00.  Children are $6.00. 

Monday, February 12, 2024

The Gardens of Alcatraz


I bet when you think of Alcatraz, you don't think of gardens. But the well-known prison off the coast of San Francisco, California has some lovely gardens. The island of Alcatraz was a barren rock until the 1860s when the first residents planted gardens in pockets of imported soil. Sent to live on this gray island, army families took refuge in Victorian-style flower gardens around the prison.

Prisoners also gardened. Army prison crews, and later a few penitentiary inmates, created a manicured landscape that bloomed until the prison closed in 1963. The flowering terraces, rose beds, and lawns then grew wild for 40 years. 

In 2003, the Garden Conservancy, the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, and the National Park Service began a joint effort to preserve and restore the historic gardens.

The only way to see Alcatraz up close and personal is to take a ferry over. The cost options for tours vary, but most are around $40. If you're in San Francisco, go online to reserve your place on the ferry. You can stay as long as you want once you're there. Ferries leave every hour.  The last one departs from Alcatraz at 4:45. 

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Hearst Castle Gardens


The Hearst Castle Gardens are located near San Simeon, California, along the Central Coast, off of Highway 1.  They are part of the impressive estate of newspaper magnate, William Randolph Hearst.  The castle and gardens were designed by Julia Morgan between 1919 and 1947.  The castle showcases Mr. Hearst's vast collection of antiques.  Getting up to the castle and gardens is an interesting ride.  Visitors will take a bus that travels up a 1600-foot high hill, winding past grazing cattle and an occasional zebra.  Yes, that's right.  Mr. Hearst had a zoo up on his hill with a collection of exotic animals.  The zebras escaped when the zoo was being dismantled. The herds of zebras are descended from the original zoo animals.

Once at the castle, visitors will see luxurious gardens designed on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  Terraces are adorned with glazed tiles and fountains.  One of the most beautiful fountains is the Neptune Fountain, pictured at the left.  Mr. Hearst wanted a garden that displayed blooms throughout the year, so the gardens were planted with flowers and plants that offered continuous color.

When I was there, I saw star jasmine, hydrangeas, myrtle, oleanders, petunias, roses, succulents, and orange trees.

To see the gardens, you must sign up for a tour of the castle.  There are three varieties of tours.  I took one of the Great Rooms.  It was quite fascinating.  Tours cost $25.00 for adults and $12.00 for children.  The castle is open daily from 8:20 AM to 6:30 PM.  The last tour is around 4:00 PM.