Monday, February 20, 2012

Descanso Gardens Built For Rest And Relaxation--And, oh yes, Camellias



   Descanso Gardens, in La Cañada Flintridge near Los Angeles is, indeed, a restful place.  With its blend of shade, water features and benches all generously placed throughout this Southern California retreat, rest--or "descanso" in Spanish--comes easy.


The shade is provided by a canopy of mighty Coastal Live Oak trees, whose large branches streak across the sky like lightning bolts and altogether they present as an abstract piece of art.


Under this forest of trees is a woodland garden. There is respite from the California sun and it is the perfect setting for thousands of camellia shrubs. Many were blooming in February when I visited.


This garden reportedly has the largest collection of camellias
 in North America.  


         The original owner of the property, E. Manchester Boddy, was the publisher of the Los Angeles Daily News and in 1937, he commissioned a 12,000 square foot home built on a hill and also began planting thousands of camellias.  


Thousands more were added to his collection since then and a sign in the garden states there are some 35,000 camellia shrubs planted here!  


   The property was sold to Los Angeles county in 1953 and Boddy's private "Rancho del Descanso" became a public house and garden that is available for private events and has even been used 
in Hollywood films.  


The small but tranquil Japanese garden on the property is one of at least three California gardens used to film Memoirs of a Geisha (one of my favorite books, too).  


Scenes of Japanese gardens with cherry and plum trees in full bloom and geisha in traditional dress made beautiful and memorable cinematographic contributions to this film.


          Water is a prominent feature at Descanso, whether in the Japanese garden or any of the other garden rooms. Most of my photographs here always seemed to include water even if it wasn't the focus of the shot. 


The soft sound of water cascading over small waterfalls and underneath 
beautiful blooming trees is just too alluring to pass up,


and scenes like this just seem to beckon.  This area was my personal favorite. Another opportunity in the garden to rest, relax and listen to the sounds of birds in the trees,


study reflections in the water, watch the ducks


and admire the azaleas starting to bloom so the camellias can rest.


If you love camellias, you can't miss the Descanso Gardens in winter, a garden built for relaxation.


The benches are waiting for you here, but the rest is up to you.




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