Descanso Gardens

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Descanso Gardens
Descanso Gardens rosarium
Descanso Gardens is located in the Los Angeles metropolitan area
Descanso Gardens
Descanso Gardens
Descanso Gardens is located in California
Descanso Gardens
Descanso Gardens
Descanso Gardens is located in the United States
Descanso Gardens
Descanso Gardens
TypeBotanical garden
LocationLa Cañada Flintridge
Nearest cityLa Cañada Flintridge
Coordinates34°12′05″N 118°12′35″W / 34.201475°N 118.2098°W / 34.201475; -118.2098Coordinates: 34°12′05″N 118°12′35″W / 34.201475°N 118.2098°W / 34.201475; -118.2098
Area150 acres (61 ha)
StatusOpen year-round
WebsiteOfficial website
Walkway in Descanso Gardens

Descanso Gardens is a 150-acre (61 ha) botanical garden located in La Cañada Flintridge, Los Angeles County, California.

Stream with ducks at Camellia Forest

Descanso gardens features a wide area, mostly forested, with artificial streams, ponds, and lawns. Descanso Gardens has a wide collection of fruit trees, including orange, peach, pear, pomegranate, crabapple, fruits of the genus prunus, grapes, and passionfruit.

Peach tree with fruit at Descanso
Pear tree, descanso gardens
Mulberry pond at Descanso
Mulberry pond at Descanso


The first Spanish governor of California deeded this land as part of a vast 36,000-acre rancho to Corporal José María Verdugo in 1784 for his loyal service. The property remained in the Verdugo family until 1869.

In 1937, the property was purchased by E. Manchester Boddy, owner of The Los Angeles Illustrated Daily News, and managed as a working ranch, which he called Rancho del Descanso.[1] He built a two-story mansion of 22 rooms, designed by Beverly Hills architect James E. Dolena. He also purchased more than 400 acres north of the original property, the source of mountain streams that provide water for Descanso Gardens today. In 1942, when people of Japanese ancestry were forced into internment camps following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Boddy purchased up to 100,000 camellia plants from two Japanese-owned nurseries in the San Gabriel Valley run by his friends, the Uyematsu and Yoshimura families. He built his camellia collection – and later his rose and lilac collections – assisted by horticulturist J. Howard Asper and hybridizer Dr. Walter E. Lammerts.

In 1953, Boddy sold this property to Los Angeles County and moved to San Diego County. Four years later, local volunteers formed the Descanso Gardens Guild, Inc. Now a 501(c) organization, the Guild today manages all garden operations in a public/private partnership with Los Angeles County.[2] The gardens were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2021.[3]

In 1995, the gardens were featured in Visiting... with Huell Howser Episode 310.[4]


  • Ancient Forest
Ancient forest
  • California Natives
  • Camellia Forest
Camellia forest
Lawn in Camellia forest
  • Center Circle
  • Japanese Garden
  • Lilac Garden
  • Nature's Table
Grapes at Descanso Nature's Table
  • Oak Forest
Lawn in Oak forest
  • Oak Woodland
  • Rose Garden
Rose garden. Descanso
Pears at Descanso rosarium

Boddy House[edit]

The Boddy House is the original 22-room mansion built by E. Manchester Boddy and designed by James Dolena in the Hollywood Regency style in 1937.[5] The house is located in the far southeast corner of the property, overlooking the San Gabriel Mountains.

In 2007, the Boddy House was rehabilitated for the 43rd annual Pasadena Showcase House of Design, and decorated in a contemporary re-interpretation of its original Hollywood Regency style. Subsequently, a major grant from the Ahmanson Foundation enabled the addition of a museum-quality Heritage Exhibit, with exhibits about the gardens, Manchester Boddy's life and times, and important donors and volunteers for the Descanso Gardens.[2][6] Executive Director David Brown led the 2007 rehabilitation of the Boddy House; he planned to retire in 2017 after 12 years leading the botanic gardens.[7] In 2019, the Boddy House was once again reimagined by Showcase House designers.[8]

Sturt Haaga Gallery[edit]

The Sturt Haaga Gallery opened in the autumn of 2011. The gallery is named for the initial gift of $2.1 million from Heather Sturt Haaga and Paul G. Haaga, Jr. Other donations followed, also from private entities.[9]

Boddy's original garage was restored and houses two galleries. The facility was enhanced by the addition of a contemporary structure which doubled the size for exhibitions and with its 12 feet (3.7 m) ceilings allowed larger single pieces of art, completing the rehabilitation of site buildings begun in 2007.[9] The contemporary structure was designed by the architects Frederick Fisher & Partners and completed in 2011.[9][10]

The Gallery presents three exhibitions per year. The focus is on work by contemporary artists that portrays themes and subjects relevant to its setting in the Descanso Gardens.[9] The first exhibit of 2014 included works by over 150 contemporary artists, some entered in a jury competition, others commissioned by the Gardens.[11] The exhibition involved contemporary photographs of the Descanso Gardens in a video gallery, using the hashtag #Portraitsofthegarden to collect the photos from social media web sites Twitter and Instagram.[11]

deer feeding on rose flowers at Descanso Rosarium


  1. ^ "About: Our History".
  2. ^ a b "Our History: A Contract with L.A. County". Descanso Gardens Guild. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  3. ^ "Weekly listing". National Park Service.
  4. ^ "Descanso Gardens – Visiting (310) – Huell Howser Archives at Chapman University".
  5. ^ "Our History: Building A Collection". Descanso Gardens Guild. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  6. ^ "Boddy House at Descanso Gardens". Descanso Gardens Guild. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  7. ^ Cardine, Sara (October 13, 2016). "David Brown reflects on over a decade of leading Descanso Gardens". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  8. ^ "What to See and do". Descanso Gardens Guild. Blackbaud. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  9. ^ a b c d "Sturt Haaga Gallery at Descanso Gardens". Descanso Gardens Guild. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  10. ^ "Sturt Haaga Gallery of Art, Descanso Gardens". Frederick Fisher and Partners, Architects. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  11. ^ a b Charky, Nicole (January 13, 2014). "'Portraits of the Garden' opens at Sturt Haaga Gallery". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 24, 2017.

External links[edit]