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Camellias at Descanso Gardens in Los Angeles

A cool oasis in the middle of a hot city makes Descanso an excellent place for plant breeding—from camellias to less known plants

Best time: October–May

Camellias at Descanso Gardens

The Descanso Gardens are located in the San Rafael Hills. These are really secluded, lush gardens sometimes turning into fabulous lush thickets so dense that even a thin ray of sunshine does not illuminate the mysterious twilight reigning here. The park is famous for the world's largest collection of camellias. In 1937, Manchester Boddy, the publisher of The Los Angeles Daily News purchased the land and soon opened this garden to the public and called it Descanso, which translates from Spanish as "tranquillity."

There are several gardens in the park: the Rose Garden, Japanese Garden House, Ancient Forest, California Natives, Center Circle, and Nature's Table. But the most popular here is the Camellia collection, which is located on the territory of the Oak Forest. Over 100,000 camellias were planted here underneath the old oak trees. The camellia collection is one of the most complete in North America and has more than 600 species.

Various species of camellias are abloom in Descanso Gardens between October and May. Winter is known as the most rewarding season to observe the greatest variety of camellias blooming. Also, annually from February 28th to March 1st the Camellia and Tea Festival is held, allowing everyone to enjoy the aroma of colourful Asian flowers.

Practical info

When is the best time to visit Descanso Gardens in Los Angeles?

Descanso Gardens is at its most beautiful between October and May. During these months, visitors can witness the many species of camellias blooming in a riot of color, making winter the most rewarding season to observe the greatest variety of camellias. To avoid crowds, it's recommended to visit the gardens on weekdays during non-holiday periods. Show more

Where is the camellia collection located in Descanso Gardens?

The Oak Forest in Descanso Gardens is where visitors can view the camellia collection. The garden has more than 100,000 camellias that have been planted under old oak trees. With over 600 species and a range of colors, textures, and shapes, the camellia collection is one of the most comprehensive in North America. It's pleasant to stroll through the garden during springtime, witnessing the blossoming camellias and breathing their fresh fragrance. Show more

What is the history behind Descanso Gardens?

Descanso Gardens began as a private estate named Rancho de Descanso, created by Manchester Boddy in 1937. Boddy eventually established the gardens, opened them to the public, and named them Descanso, translating to 'tranquility' from Spanish. Boddy's creation became a state-chartered nonprofit botanic garden in 1953 due to its popularity. The gardens have remained open ever since. Show more

What other gardens are available to see in Descanso Gardens?

While the camellia collection is a significant draw, there are other gardens that visitors can see at Descanso Gardens. These gardens are the Rose Garden, Japanese Garden House, Ancient Forest, California Natives, Center Circle, and Nature's Table. Visitors can also experience bird watching in a special area designated for it and explore walking paths. These offerings make the gardens suitable for a family picnic, or a tranquil day out in nature. Show more

What event happens annually in February and March at Descanso Gardens?

Descanso Gardens hosts the Camellia and Tea Festival every year on February 28th and March 1st. Visitors can savor the sweet aroma of Asian flowers while enjoying different teas. The festival provides many activities such as live music, dancing, and guided tours, making it a can't-miss event for camellia aficionados and anyone who wishes to experience the beauty of these colorful blooms. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin