California is blessed with lots of sunshine, so home gardens and landscaped parks are plentiful. But if you want to visit a formal garden, which is a day’s activity in and of itself, here are some of the grandest:

More than 14,000 plants cover the multiple specialized gardens at Huntington. (Credit:

The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens

1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, CA 91108
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Railroad czar Henry E. Huntington developed this 120-acre garden to surround his research library and art collections. Inside, see a manuscript of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and count all the nuances of one shade in Gainsborough’s Blue Boy. 14,000 plants cover the multiple specialized gardens, you’ll want to see the Japanese, Chinese, Rose and Desert sections, and continue on if you have time. Make an advance reservation for the Rose Garden Tea Room; its setting is exquisite and the lunch or afternoon tea buffet is lavish.

The Rose, Iris and Lilac gardens at Descanso Gardens host many varieties, and the Japanese garden with its bridges and teahouse are serene. (Credit:

Descanso Gardens

1418 Descanso Drive
La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011
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Newspaper publisher E. Manchester Boddy named his estate Rancho del Descanso which, translated from the Spanish, means Ranch of Rest and you’ll see what he meant when you visit. The Camellia Forest, North America’s largest (at fullest bloom in winter). The Rose, Iris and Lilac gardens host many varieties, and the Japanese garden with its bridges and teahouse are serene. Guided tram tours are informative and relaxing.

This garden at The Arboretum is used as This garden is used as an outdoor classroom and demonstration area year-round. (Credit:

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

301 North Baldwin Avenue
Arcadia, CA 91007

See the Madagascar Spiny Forest in the African area, and the Tropical Greenhouse and Orchids near the Australian garden. The Historic Circle boasts the Rose Garden and Citrus Grove, the Meyberg Waterfall is near the Asian section, and the Americas area offers a vista over everything. Near Baldwin Lake, see the Queen Anne Cottage and Coach Barn. But if you come for no other reason, visit to see the feisty, fearless peacocks that patrol the grounds to let you know that this is their home, not yours.

The 87-acre South Coast Botanic Garden is home to many species of plants, animals and bugs. (

South Coast Botanic Garden

26300 Crenshaw Boulevard
Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA 90274
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This 87-acre garden is home to many rare specimens of plants and over 200 species of birds have been spotted here. The Cactus garden is extensive, the Koi Pond in the Japanese section is lovely, and the California-native plants thrive in the Mediterranean garden. The children’s section has a charming Goldilocks and the Three Bears motif.

Murphy Sculpture Garden

UCLA Campus (Hilgard/Sunset Entrances)

More than 70 sculptures adorn this five-acre garden with works by luminaries such as Henry Moore, Auguste Rodin, Jean Arp and Isamu Noguchi. The pieces are carefully placed to interact with the landscape where you’ll find coral trees, sycamores, eucalyptus and jacarandas (whose blossoming in late spring create a display of purple flowers unlike anything else on Earth). Open lawns and a brick plaza border endless varieties of seasonal flowers.

Born and raised in L.A., Andrea Renskoff’s knowledge spans trendy hubs to the diamonds in the rough to escapes from the ordinary. She currently writes about food, travel, families, health, wellness and lifestyle.


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