If the Ahmanson Theatre’s current production of The Secret Garden has you yearning for more lush adventures, there are plenty of gardens to explore in and around Los Angeles. Be there a “House Upon a Hill” nearby or flowers that only bloom when “Winter’s on the Wing,” these gardens each have their own stories and magic hidden within them.
Descanso Gardens, La Cañada Flintridge
This “urban retreat” is just 20 minutes north of Downtown Los Angeles, with 150 acres of year-round blooms from native California plants, one of the largest collections of camellias in the Western hemisphere, and an oak woodland. There’s also an enchanted railroad that travels along the promenade for guests young and old.
Rose Garden, Los Angeles (Exposition Park)
Just a short ride away on the Expo Line from both The Music Center and the Kirk Douglas Theatre is the Exposition Park Rose Garden, a seven-acre sunken garden park featuring 20,000 roses. This garden is a small oasis in the middle of Exposition Park, surrounded by many museums, the L.A. Memorial Coliseum, and the University of Southern California.
The Huntington Botanical Gardens, San Marino
With 16 gardens spread across 130 acres, there is much to explore at The Huntington. Travel across the globe through the Australian, Chinese, and Japanese gardens.Or stop by the Shakespeare Garden featuring flowers from some of Shakespeare’s greatest works and sonnets—perfect for theatre and literary lovers alike! While you're there, stop by the library and pick up a copy of the 1911 novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, which inspired the musical, to read when you get home?
James Irvine Japanese Garden at JACCC, Los Angeles (Little Tokyo)
A 20-minute walk from The Music Center to the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center will lead you to the James Irvine Japanese Garden. This garden is known as “Seiryu-en,” or “Garden of the Clear Stream,” perhaps for its 170-foot stream that flows from a waterfall and divides into two paths, ending in a calm pond. The stream’s journey tells a story–the path of the water is meant to symbolize the journey of Japanese generations in America — the Issei generation’s hardships in a new land, followed by the political and cultural conflicts of second generation Nisei individuals, and, finally, peace for the Sansei and future generations.
Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden, Arcadia
The Arboretum & Botanic Garden in Arcadia features 127 acres of plants and trees. View the San Gabriel Mountains framed by Magnolia trees in the Meadowbrook Garden, learn about water conservation from the Mediterranean plants in the Water Conservation Garden, or indulge in the sights and smells of the Herb Garden. The garden is also an official wildlife sanctuary with small reptiles, mammals, aquatic creatures and both resident and migratory birds — like peacocks!
Amir’s Garden, Los Angeles (Griffith Park)
Just as Mary tends to the secret garden she finds; Amir’s Garden is another testament to the work and care an individual has for tending to the land. Amir Dialameh spent 32 years hiking up to the location of his garden, planting rose bushes and jacaranda trees in an area scorched by a major brush fire. Since he passed away in 2003, volunteers have kept the garden alive today. It is accessible only by foot, serving as a resting spot for hikers who journey up the trail from the Mineral Wells Picnic Area.
Wrigley Mansion, Pasadena
This mansion serves as the headquarters for the annual New Year’s Day Rose Parade and has a 4.5 acre flower garden of its own. The garden features more than 1,500 varieties of roses and flowers, including the Tournament of Roses Rose, which is a pink variant that is resistant to black spots, white powder, and rust that was specifically developed for the Tournament of Roses centennial. Thursday tours of the property start in February and wind down in August each year.
South Coast Botanic Gardens, Palo Verdes Hills
The South Coast Botanic Gardens are one of the first gardens in the world to be built over a sanitary landfill, reclaiming the 87 acres of land into a lush, urban oasis. Explore the desert garden, with plants from the United States, Africa, and South America, the Banyan Grove of Moreton Bay Fig trees, or some of the 110 different types of fuchsia in the fuchsia garden. There is also a sensory garden, designed for guests to touch and smell the plants featured there.