Trip has been postponed due to concerns for coronavirus precautions. 

This trip will be rescheduled at a future date.

The Historical Society has planned an exciting excursion to the beautiful Descanso Gardens on Thursday, April 9, leaving at 8:00 a.m. and returning at 5:00 P.M. Located in the midst of California chaparral, Descanso Gardens in La Cañada-Flintridge is hailed as one of the most spectacular locations in Southern California.  This 160-acre oasis contains forests, streams, a lake, a bird sanctuary, hiking trails, a 22-room mansion, a gift shop, café court gardens, and a Japanese teahouse and koi pond.



In 1937, E. Manchester Boddy, publisher of the Los Angeles Daily News, purchased the 160 acres now known as Descanso Gardens.  One of the first things Mr. Boddy constructed on the site of this former Spanish rancho was a two-story, 12,000 square foot, 22-room mansion in the Hollywood Regency style which he called Rancho del Descanso (Place of Rest). Designed by renowned “architect to the stars” James E. Dolena, the home is nestled into the hillside with a spectacular view of the San Gabriel mountains, and portions are open to the public daily while visiting the gardens.Seduced by the beauty of the camellia, Mr. Boddy soon employed an expert to cultivate different varieties of the plant. Before long, he had assembled a world-renowned collection. The newspaperman had a love for a myriad of different flower species and soon divided his interests between roses, irises, lilacs, and native California plants. In 1953, Boddy sold his magnificent home and property to the County of Los Angeles and Descanso Gardens opened to the public.

Garden Areas

The Rosarium, situated on 5 acres, with more than 1,600 roses represent centuries of horticultural history ranging from the Middle Ages to the American colonies, Victorian England, and up to the modern era—a world class collection! Planted among the roses are beautiful companion plants, so there is something blooming in every season.


Camellias, Camellias, Camellias!!! Descanso Gardens contains the largest outdoor planting of camellias in the world. More than 100,000 plants grace the winding paths of the California live oak forest that has become a laboratory for the research and development of new species of camellias. More than 400 varieties of camellias thrive amid the filtered shade. In this setting there are camellia specimens from China, Japan, England, and the southern region of the United States. Under such ideal conditions, some camellias exceed 20 feet in height. The colors and aromas are incredible.


Situated within the Oak Forest and surrounded by the tranquil effects of water and dozens of colorful koi fish is the Japanese Teahouse. Giant pink azalea plants delicately surround the koi pond. The design of the teahouse is authentic, including the imported blue tile roof. The red Shinto Bridge used to cross the stream in front of the teahouse is called "The Smiling Bridge." Black, orange, and white koi fish, known as living jewels, leisurely circle in the small pools that surround the teahouse.

In the California Garden one follows meandering paths through sage scrub and riparian habitats, set amidst the sun-bathed chaparral hillsides and dotted with springtime color of California poppies, wildflowers, and native flowering shrubs.  Witness an incredible bed of over 150 varieties of Bearded Irises that winds along a lower path of the garden—a surprising visual treat which includes a number of gold or silver medal winners at iris society shows.

The Lilac Garden is a showplace with 100 varieties of lilacs. A 1960's hybridization program resulted in the Descanso series of lilacs, among them California Rose, White Spring, and the Descanso Giant. These varieties were specifically cultivated for the dry, hot temperatures of the southern California climate. Peak blooming occurs in March and April.


Two new gardens have been added since our last visit in 2013! The Oak Woodland, Descanso Gardens’ first expansion in over 30 years, opened in 2014. This garden recreates the oaks and meadows habitat of the Los Angeles Basin in the times before European contact. The next year brought another new garden: The Ancient Forest—a collection of cycads sited amid other plants of ancient, “living fossil” lineages. Presenting plant species that existed in the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, the Ancient Forest provides a glimpse of the natural world that dinosaurs once inhabited. The garden charts the evolutionary progression of plants from gymnosperms — or seed-bearing plants — to the earliest flowering plants, the angiosperms. Plant species in the Ancient Forest include ginkgo, conifers, magnolias, tree ferns and members of the Proteaceae family — but most especially cycads, the oldest known seed-bearing plant species. Cycads appear in fossils over 280 million years old and were a major part of the ecosystem during the Jurassic period, the age of the dinosaurs. Slow-growing, cycads often live hundreds of years. The over 180 cycad specimens are displayed in groupings, mimicking their natural habitat in Australia, South Africa and South America.

Our comfortable, full-sized motorcoach with restroom will depart Carpinteria from the museum at 8:00 a.m (check-in by 7:45) and return by 5:00 P.M.  The cost of the trip for Historical Society members is just $49; and $59 for non-members.  This special price includes bus transportation; admission to the gardens; and refreshments aboard the bus. A no-host lunch is available at the Descanso Café with beautiful patio dining. You will have approximately 5 hours to explore the gardens on your own. This is a walking visit, so plan on wearing comfortable shoes and variable weather (wheelchair access is available throughout most portions of the garden).

Don’t miss this exciting trip to one of Southern California’s horticultural treasures. With Mother Nature’s blessing, the roses, azaleas, camellias, irises, wildflowers, and California natives will all be in bloom—call or reserve today!  For reservations or more information call David at (805) 684-3112, or simply fill out the coupon on the next page and return with your check. 

Click here for printable reservation form