- Author: Edie and Erich Warkentine
We are trying to continue our tradition of exploring the many wonderful public gardens located in the western United States. Recently, we made our first visit to the South Coast Botanic Garden, an 87-acre garden located on the Palos Verdes peninsula, near Los Angeles.
The entire garden is designed with walking paths and has a large circular trail so that visitors can cover the major gardens in about an hour. You could also spend the day! It is a popular location for weddings and other celebrations. (One of the highlights of the garden is a lake, which is currently being reconstructed. If you want to see that area, it will be done in another year or two.)
The end of the summer may not be the best time to visit — although some roses were blooming, there weren't a ton of other flowering plants. We were fortunate to view a special exhibition, “Hide and Seek: Art Meets Nature,” featuring eight sculptures (six contributed by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art), carefully placed throughout the garden as a way to encourage nature exploration “with an artful game of hide and seek.”
For some reason, many people have not yet discovered the South Coast Botanic Garden (Edie went to high school and lived in Palos Verdes and didn't know the garden was there!) Now that we've found it, we definitely plan to return to enjoy other (and more flowery) seasons!
Visitor Information: The garden is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, notwithstanding the pandemic, but has added several requirements for a visit:
- online reservations at scheduled time;
- visitors must always wear masks; and
- mandatory physical social distancing from other groups.
More information and reservations are available at their website: https://southcoastbotanicgarden.org/
* Apparently, not really a secret.
- Author: Erich Warkentine
The Farm + Food Lab, located in the City of Irvine's Great Park, features themed raised-bed gardens, fruit trees, vertical gardening, a worm compost bin, and solar and wind-powered lights. It is operated by a partnership consisting of the City of Irvine, Solutions for Urban Ag, and the UCCE Master Gardeners of Orange County.
During a recent visit to Southern California, we visited the Farm + Food Lab. It turned out that officially it was closed due to high winds, but we introduced ourselves to two of the people who were working on site and were privileged to be given a private tour! Everyone had their own tour highlights, but two on which we all agreed were (1) the survivor tree – progeny of a tree from the center of the 9/11 building complex – which is now growing big and strong; and (2) three progeny of the Manzanar Pear Trees.
Some of the themed beds include the Pizza and Spaghetti Garden, Butterfly Garden and chicken coop, and pollinator garden.
The Orange County Master Gardeners present classes to the community on such topics as garden tool care and maintenance and fruit tree pruning and berry planting. Orange County Master Food Preservers have presented classes on food preserving.
For more information, see:
- Author: Erich Warkentine
On our recent trip to The Huntington, we divided our time between the Ranch House garden, the Chinese and Japanese gardens, the bonsai collection, and the desert garden.
The Chinese garden (the Garden of Flowing Fragrance) features a lake, tea house, stone bridges and waterfalls, against a background of mature oaks and pines.
The Japanese Garden includes a traditional moon bridge and tea house, and a zen garden.
Outside of the Garden, local bonsai associations have dramatic bonsai on display.
The desert garden contains over 2,000 species in 60 landscaped beds, and its website states it is one of the largest outdoor collections of cacti and succulents in the world. We were surprised to see many cacti flowering at this early time of the year. Stunning cholla, barrels, aloes and agaves are just some of the cacti and succulents that are thrilling to see. Yuccas dominate the landscape and tower above the walkways.
It would be easy to spend a full day or more enjoying all of the gardens The Huntington has to offer – but try to visit on a Saturday so you can enjoy the special treat of a visit to the Ranch House garden.
For more information, see https://www.huntington.org/gardens