The botanical beauty of California’s gardens

California is a land rich in botanical treasures. From indigenous native plants throughout the state, flowering cacti and towering joshua trees of the deserts and stunning formal gardens of urban historical homes to the colorful blooms of California greenhouses and the diversity of regional botanical and zoological gardens, there’s horticultural beauty just waiting to be discovered in every state region.



QUAIL BOTANICAL GARDENS. 230 Quail Gardens Dr., Encinitas 92024; (760) 436-3036. Thirty-four acres of rare and beautiful plants including large collection of hibiscus, bamboo, palms and cycads. Gardens are located in canyons, sunny hillsides and overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Thanksgving, Christmas and New Years. Docent-guided tours every Saturday 10 a.m. Fee: $5 adults; $4 seniors; $2 children 5-12. First Tuesday of every month: free admission all day, and tour for families with pre-school-aged children 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Gift shop open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.


THE LIVING DESERT WILDLIFE AND BOTANICAL PARK. 47-900 Portola Ave., Palm Desert 92260; (760) 346-5694. Twelve hundred acres house many of the world’s rarest plants, animals and geological exhibits. Desert gardens feature smoke trees, saguaros, a myriad of cacti and more. The Indian Ethno-Botanic garden provides an explanation of how the local Cahullas used plants for food, clothing and medicine. Guided tours and live animal programs daily. Open year-round, Sept. 1-June 15 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; June 16-Aug. 31 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Fee: $6.50 adults and seniors; $3.50 children (3-12).

MOORTEN’S BOTANICAL GARDEN. 1701 South Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs 92264; (760) 327-6555. The three-acre garden contains more than 3,000 varieties of desert plants. Self-guided trails lead past cacti and other desert plants from all around the world. There is also a palm oasis and wildlife feeding area. Open Monday-Saturday 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed Wednesday. Fee: $2.50 adults and seniors; $1.00 youth (5-16).


KIMBERLY CREST HOUSE & GARDENS. 1325 Prospect Dr., Redlands 92373; (909) 792-2111. Built in 1897, this fairytale-like French chateau is situated on a knoll overlooking the San Bernadino Valley. Open Sunday-Thursday 1 to 4 p.m.; closed holidays and the month of August. Guided tours start every 30 minutes with the last tour beginning at 3:30 p.m. Fee: $6 donation per person; $5 for students, seniors, and group tours; free for children under 12.

RANCHO SANTA ANA BOTANIC GARDEN. 1500 North College Avenue, Claremont 91711; (909) 625-8767. This 85-acre garden is devoted to 1,500 species of native California plants, including displays of drought-tolerant plants for use in urban and suburban environments. Open daily 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; closed New Year’s Day, July 4, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Admission free.

RIVERSIDE BOTANIC GARDENS. Botanic Gardens University of California, Riverside 92821; (909) 787-4650. Occupies 37 acres of hilly terrain with walkway for handicapped. Emphasis is on dry climate plants; many of the 3,000 species bloom during spring. Open daily 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed New Year’s Day, July 4, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Also closed one day a year in spring for food and wine tasting event to visitors without event tickets. Admission free; donations accepted.


RANCHO LOS ALAMITOS. 6400 Bixby Hill Road, Long Beach 90815; (562) 431-3541. Seven and a half acres of gardens created by Florence Bixby in the 1920s. Ranch house, barns, blacksmith shop and gardens reflect 1,500 years of growth from Native American settlement to large-scale farming activities and horse breeding. Open Wednesday-Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. Admission free.

HUNTINGTON LIBRARY, ART COLLECTIONS AND BOTANICAL GARDENS. 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino 91108; (626) 405-2100. Fifteen specialized gardens spread over 150 acres. Featured are the Japanese Garden with a 19th century traditional Japanese house; Rose Garden showing the history of the rose over 2,000 years; and the camellia collection, one of the largest in the world, in two gardens. Open Tuesday-Friday noon to 4:30 p.m.; weekends 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (closed Monday and holidays). Fee: $10.00 adults; $8.50 seniors; $7 students ages 12 to 18; free for children under 5.

ARBORETUM OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY. 301 North Baldwin Ave., Arcadia 91007-2697; (626) 821-3222. The county of Los Angeles cultivates and maintains a 127-acre display of plants from around the world and arranged by geographic origin. The 1885 Queen Anne Cottage, a national landmark, has been a setting for movies and television programs including “Fantasy Island.” Open Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; weekends and holidays 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (summer hours 6/3-8/30/02). Closed at 2:30 p.m. on concert days and all day Christmas. Fees: $5 adults; $3 seniors 60 and older; $3 students 13 and older (includes college students with current ID); $1 children 5 to 12; Under 5 years old are free. However, Tuesdays are free for everyone. $2 per seat per Tram tour. Plant science library and free parking.

SOUTH COAST BOTANIC GARDEN. 26300 Crenshaw Blvd., Palos Verdes Peninsula 90724; (310) 544-6815. Originally a pit mine in1929, and then a sanitary landfill containing three and a half million tons of trash until 1965, this 87-acre site is now home to 150,000 plants. Docent-led tours and bird walks. Open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Christmas. Fees: $5 adult; $3 seniors/students; $1 children (5-12 years); children 4 & under free.

VIRGINIA ROBINSON GARDENS. 1008 Eden Way Beverly Hills 90210, (310) 276-5367. In 1911, Harry and Virginia Robinson built a home and unique garden in Classic Mediterranean Revival style on a barren hillside in the nether reaches of Los Angeles. Now prime real estate in the city of Beverly Hills, this six-acre estate features a lush palm forest, the largest stand of king palms outside of Australia. These serve to create a unique micro-climate which shelter an exotic collection of tropical and subtropical specimens. Open for guided walking tours by appointment only. Tuesday-Thursday 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and Friday 10 a.m. Fees: $7 adults; $4 seniors/students (with identification); $2 children (5-12 years).

TOURNAMENT HOUSE AND WRIGLEY GARDENS. 391 South Orange Grove Blvd., Pasadena 91184; (626) 449-4100. Formally owned by chewing gum pioneer, William Wrigley, Jr. in 1914, the Wrigley family donated the Italian style 22-room home to the city of Pasadena after Mrs. Wrigley’s death in 1958. Four and a half acres of gardens surround the house and feature more than 1,500 of varieties of roses, camellias, and annuals. Currently, the house is the permanent home to the Tournament of Roses Association executive offices. Free tours of the interior offered Thursdays 2 to 4 p.m., Feb.-Aug. Closed to the public in September. Admission free.


SANTA BARBARA BOTANICAL GARDEN. 1212 Mission Canyon Road, Santa Barbara 93105; (805) 682-4726. Sixty-five acres in the Santa Barbara foothills feature more than 1,000 species of rare and indigenous California plants. Five and a half miles of trails wind through meadows of wildflowers, peaceful oak woodland and along ridgetops that offer sweeping views of the Channel Islands. Docent tours led daily at 2:30 p.m. and additional 10:30 a.m. tours on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Garden shop and garden growers nursery. Open daily. Hours vary by season. Fees: $5 adults; $3 students with ID/seniors/teens; $1 children (5-12 years); free members and children under 5. Group rates available.


SHIN-ZEN FRIENDSHIP GARDEN. 7775 North Friant Road, Fresno 93720; (559) 498-1551. Three and a half acre, exotic, Japanese-style garden located in Woodward Park. As the seasons change, the garden’s focus moves to a different section. Garden also features a koi pond. Open (Oct.- April) Saturday, Sunday and legal holidays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; (May-Sept.) Monday-Friday 5 p.m. to dusk, Saturday-Sunday 10 a.m. to dusk. Fees: $1 adults; 50 cents seniors (62 and over) and children (4-14 years); $2 per vehicle (park entrance fee).


CAPITOL PARK. Between N, L, 10th and 15th streets, Sacramento; (916) 653-6995 (CA parks and recreation general information line). Surrounding the State Capitol Building, this 40-acre park features more than 450 species of plants. Special floral areas include a rose garden, cactus garden, and grove of camellias, Sacramento’s flower. Among the spring tree blossoms are quinces, magnolias and plums. Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial also located on grounds. Open year-round during daylight hours. Admission free.


LUTHER BURBANK HOME & GARDENS. 204 Santa Rosa Ave. at Sonoma Ave., Santa Rosa 95402; (707) 524-5445. Home of renowned horticulturist Luther Burbank (1848-1926). Burbank created his gardens as an outdoor laboratory where he carried out his botanical experiments. Now the revitalized gardens feature Burbank’s plant introductions, as well as other related varieties, including California-developed roses, drought-tolerant plants, and several varieties of spineless cactus. Carriage house museum and gift shop open Oct. through April Tuesday-Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free admission. Docent-led tours, which include the home and greenhouse, begin every half hour Tuesday-Sunday 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tour fee: $3 adults; children 12 & under free.

MENDOCINO COAST BOTANICAL GARDENS. 18220 North Highway 1, Fort Bragg 95437; (707) 964-4352. This 47-acre botanical garden is the only public garden in the continental United States fronting the ocean. The mild rainy winters and cool foggy summers foster a native coastal pine forest, fern-covered canyons and 20 sizable collections of camellias, dahlias, fuchsias, rhododendron hybrids and more. Cliff House, Parrish family cemetery, restaurant, nursery and store. Gardens open daily March-Oct. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and (Nov.-Feb.) 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Store and nursery open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and the second Saturday in September. Fees: $6 adults; $5 seniors; $3 students/juniors (13-17); $1 children 5-12; children under 5 free.

KRUSE RHODODENDROM STATE RESERVE. 25050 Coast Highway 1, Jenner (adjacent to Salt Point State Park); (707) 847-3221. Four hundred-seventeen acres of trails (hiking, horseback riding) through rhododendron blooms, groves of redwoods and Douglas fir and tan oak. Pink rhododendron blooms cover the reserve April through June. Admission free.


DUNSMUIR HOUSE & GARDENS. 2960 Peralta Oaks Court, Oakland 94605; (510) 615-5555. The 37-room Dunsmuir Mansion with Colonial Revival architecture is listed in the National Register of Historical Buildings. The property operators host outdoor concerts, and Christmas and other themed events on the 40-acre estate. The Garden is open Tuesday- Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; admission is free. Mansion tours available every Wednesday 11 a.m. and noon. Family Sunday is the first Sunday of the month April through September and includes activities and a mansion tour at 1 and 2 p.m. Open Sunday-Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (April-Sept.) Fees: $5 adults; $4 seniors (62 and older)/ juniors; members and children under 13 free.

FILOLI HOUSE AND GARDENS. 86 Canada Road, Woodside 94062; (650) 364-8300. A historic 43-room Georgian-style country mansion located on 654 acres. Open Tuesday-Saturday, Feb. 12 through Oct. 26, 2002 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Closed Sunday and Monday. Docent guided tours of mansion and gardens available Tuesday-Saturday. Tour is 2 hours; reservations required. Guided nature hikes are offered Saturday at 10 a.m. by reservation only. Hike is 3 miles or approximately 2 and a half hours. Filolo is open Tuesday-Saturday for self-guided tours beginning at 10 a.m. with the last admission at 2:30 p.m. (no reservations required). Fee: $10 adult; $5 students with ID; $1 children (7-12), and under 7 free. Price is per tour. Call (650) 364-8300 ext.507 for tour information. Garden shop and cafe on grounds.

UC BOTANICAL GARDEN. 200 Centennial Dr., Berkeley, 94720-5045; (510) 643-2755. Established in 1890 by E. L. Greene, the first chairman of the UC Berkeley Department of Botany. The 34-acre garden, arranged primarily by country of origin or region, is home to one of the largest and most diverse collections in the United States. Special collections include Chinese medicinal herbs, plants of economic importance, Old Rose cultivars, and California native plants. Open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and during summer twilight (Memorial Day through Labor Day) 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fees: $3 adults; $2 seniors (62 and over) and Cal Alumni Association members; $1 children (3-18); free to members/UC students, and children under 3. Free every Thursday. Group and school tours available.

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