Top 10 Public Gardens in Los Angeles

Apr 12, 2010 by Lisa Newton

Although, the East Coast has more dramatic differences in their change of seasons, as winter turns into spring, and spring moves into summer; there are differences in Los Angeles too, although more subtle, but they’re nonetheless just as interesting and unique.

Here, spring arrives along with the start of our wildflower season, which also means that our gardens, greenery, and landscaping change as well.

In Los Angeles, gardens are a part of everyday life—from the annual, perennials, cactus, saplings, flowering shrubs, and other annual plants which spring forth at this time.

To take a break from your hectic schedule, listed below is various Los Angeles gardens you can visit year round. While there, you can find peaceful spots to relax, and see enough colors that are in a rainbow or an artist’s palette of paints.

Here are the Top 10 Gardens in Los Angeles:

1. Descanso Gardens: Boasting 100,000 camellias, this 160 acre delight for flower lovers is ready to show you a good time. But the flowers don’t stop with the camellias. In April, azaleas, irises, lilacs, native plants and wildflowers, tulips, clivia, and wisteria are also in full bloom. The fun doesn’t stop with the gardens solely, so give yourself some extra time to visit the Bird Observation, Full Moon Tea House, and the Boddy House. It’s located at 1418 Descanso Dr., in the city of La Canada Flintridge, San Fernando Valley. Hours: 9am to 5pm every day of the year except Christmas. Admission: Adults $8, Senior/Students $6, Children (5-12 years) $3. Members and children under 5 are free.

2. The Arboretum of Los Angeles County: Cultivate. Explore. Learn. That’s the ethos and part of the ongoing activities at Los Angeles County’s Arboretum. As you’re walking its paths, you’ll be discovering unique plants, and learning history at the same time. It’s situated on 127 beautiful acres. Included in the Arboretum there’s plenty of wildlife also. Location: 301 N. Baldwin Ave. City of Arcadia. Hours: 9am to 5pm daily. Admission: Adults $8, Senior/Student $6, Children (5-12 years) $3. Members and children under 5 are free.

3. Exposition Rose Garden: A 7-acre urban oasis, the Exposition Rose Garden is the largest public garden in Los Angeles County. Home to over 20,000 rose bushes and over 190 varieties of roses, the Rose Garden is visited by thousands of Angelinos and tourists each year. Location: 701 State Dr., City of Los Angeles. Hours: 9am to sunset daily. It’s closed from January 1st to March 15th for annual maintenance. Admission: Free.

4. Huntington Botanical Gardens: Covering 207 acres, of which approximately 120 are landscaped and open to visitors, the Huntington Botanical Gardens has more than 14,000 different varieties of plants showcased in more than a dozen principal garden areas. Hosting interpretive programs for visitors, a volunteer staff of more than 100 help maintain the botanical collections, and propagate plants for special sales. You have to make advance reservations for the Rose Garden Tea Room. Location: 1151 Oxford Road, City of San Marino. Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, 12pm to 4:30pm, and Saturday/Sunday, 10:30am to 4:30pm. It’s closed on Tuesday. Admission: Weekdays: Adults $15, Seniors $12, Students (12-18 years) $10, Youth (5-11 years) $6. Members and under children under 5 are free. Weekends: Adults $20, Seniors $15, Students (12-18 years) $10, and Children $6.

5. Hannah Carter Japanese Garden: Inspired by the gardens in Kyoto, this one acre garden has many sculptures built in Japan, including its garden house, bridges, and shine. Several hundred tons of stones for the Carter Japanese Garden came from the quarries in Ventura County and the foot of Mt. Hood. Location: About one mile from UCLA in Bel Air, Los Angeles. Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, 10am to 2pm. Admission: Free, but reservations are required. For more information, please visit their website.

6. Orcutt Ranch: On January 22, 1965, the City of Los Angeles designated the 24-acre portion of the Orcutt Ranch estate as Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument No. 31, which includes the residence, ranch structures, garden, oaks, and citrus orchard. One weekend per year in July, the orchards of Orcutt Ranch are open to the public to hand pick ripe Valencia Oranges and White Grapefruit. Location: 3600 Roscoe Boulevard, Canoga Park. Hours: Daily from sunrise to sunset. Admission: Free.

7. Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens: At 86 acres, it’s the largest botanic garden dedicated exclusively to California’s native plants. Founded in 1927, the Garden’s mission is to “Promote botany, conservation, and horticulture to inspire, inform, and educate the public and the scientific community about California’s native flora.” Location: 1500 N. College Ave., City of Claremont. Hours: 8:00am to 5:00pm daily. Admission: Adults $8, Seniors/Students $6, and Children (3-12 years) $4 Members and children under 3 are free for admission.

8. Japanese Gardens at Tillman Water Reclamation Plant: The Bureau of Sanitation, with tax dollars, came up with an innovative and beautiful way to demonstrate a water reclamation project—the Japanese Gardens. Hosting ginkgo trees, a waterfall, a tea house, Crane Island, and a zigzag bridge, the 6.5 acre Japanese Garden leaves visitors with a distinct Zen feeling. Location: 6100 Woodley Ave, Van Nuys. Hours: Monday –Thursday 12pm to 4pm, and Sunday 10am to 4pm. Admission: Adults $3 Seniors/Children under 10 $2.

9. South Coast Botanical Gardens: Covering 87 acres, the South Coast Botanic Garden offers a wide variety of blooming trees, shrubs, and flowers all year long. With a Cactus Garden, a Mediterranean Garden, a Koi Pond located in its Japanese Garden, and a Children’s Garden entitled “3 Bears’ House.” Location: 26300 Crenshaw Boulevard, at the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Hours: 9am to 5pm daily. Admission: Adults $8 Seniors/Students $6 , and Children (5-12 years) $3. Members and children under 4 are free.

10. Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden: The Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden, was initially conceptualized by its its local citizens, and was planned and built by the area’s volunteers. With the Bird and Butterfly Habitat, Children’s Garden of Discovery, and Wildflower Meadow, this ¾ acre garden also has park benches built by a local Eagle Scouts division, and has an educational self-guided tour. Location: in Polliwog Park on Peck Avenue, just north of Manhattan Beach Blvd, in Manhattan Beach. Hours: 8am to sundown, daily. Admission: Free.

Now that you have the list of the top 10 Los Angeles Gardens, which one will you visit first? Or will you make a weekend of garden hopping?

Some gardens that charge an admission fee also have a free admission day each month–so consult Travelin’ Local’s Free Museum Days to find their schedule. Also, before visiting any garden, be sure to check their websites as timings and availability may change.

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