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Descanso Gardens is in bloom

There is beauty with a purpose on display daily at Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge

Posted: April 2, 2009 3:05 p.m.
Updated: April 3, 2009 6:00 a.m.

Playful fish fountains entertain young and old alike at Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge.

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The sun is bright overhead and I breathe deeply the heady perfume of lilacs. I am surrounded by lilacs - lavender lilacs, white lilacs, deep, deep purple lilacs, soft purple lilacs and lilacs with a touch of blue.

The lilacs of Descanso Gardens are in full bloom and the scent is intoxicating. There is natural beauty everywhere you look at Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge - a short 30 minute drive from the Santa Clarita Valley.

Water features and benches beckon. It is easy to be seduced by the sun, the flowers and the gentle spring breeze.

The meaning of "stop and smell the roses" is perfectly clear at Descanso Gardens. Stop, smell, admire and relax - let life's worries and cares disappear with the boundaries of this 150-acre gift of E. Manchester Boddy.

Boddy, publisher of the Los Angeles Daily News, purchased the land in 1937 and built an elegant two-story mansion of 22 rooms, designed by architect J. E. Dolena of Beverly Hills. The mansion overlooks 25 acres of live oak forest and a camellia-lined driveway.

Boddy named his estate "Rancho del Descanso," which means "ranch of rest" in Spanish.
 
Upon his retirement in 1953, Boddy sold his home and gardens to the County of Los Angeles. Boddy died on May 12, 1967.

On weekdays Descanso Gardens is a favorite of moms with strollers, schoolchildren on tours, photographers and seniors. It is nearly impossible to visit Descanso Gardens and not see at least one individual from each category. On weekends add families to the mix. Yet, Descanso Gardens never seems crowded. This is not a place where you have to "stay on the marked path."

At Descanso Gardens you are encouraged to take the path "less traveled" and explore at will. Walk on the grass, sit on the grass, run on the grass. Venture off the groomed walkways and into the gardens' "wild areas" to find peace and serenity and secret places all your own. Spring is the perfect time to visit Descanso as the explosion of spring blooms assault the senses.

Descanso uses the natural bounty of spring to its advantage, hosting an annual spring festival to lure "city folk" to enjoy the beautiful gifts of the season. The Spring Show 2009, "The Power of Flowers: Beauty with Purpose" celebrates the importance, influence and beauty of nature's most crowning evolutionary achievement - the flower. This year's spring festival runs through May 10.

Visit the lush gardens and enjoy several new features.

The new Center Circle highlights the two branches of the plant family - the gymnosperms (non-flowering plants) and the angiosperms (flowering plants) - and sheds light on how plants developed flowers as a strategy for survival.

Nearby, Descanso's Promenade demonstrates the intricate connection between flowering plants and pollinators such as bees, bugs, birds and bats.

The grand Promenade has been broken up and transformed into smaller, more intimate separate gardens.

The sundial lawn is being replaced with "Nature's Table" with a groundbreaking at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 18. The garden will feature a wide variety of edible plants - including vegetables, fruit trees, herbs and other tasty plants. The sundial has been relocated to the Boddy House.

Every weekend at the Spring Festival you can tour the Boddy House and savor a Full Moon Tea Service (reservations required). However Descanso Gardens evolves it will still boast the largest camellia collection in North America that consists of more than 34,000 plants in its vast camellia forest.|

Tour the California garden, International Rosarium, Iris garden, Mulberry pond, bird observation station, Lilac garden, Japanese garden and shed your stress. Leave refreshed, relaxed - and in awe of the stunning beauty of nature.

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