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Happy Spring! 5 Don’t-Miss Botanical Gardens

From a kitschy privately-owned botanical garden with cheeky signage and an expansive assortment of Dr. Seuss-like plants in Palm Springs, to a seaside garden replete with a closed-cone pine forest in Mendocino, here’s where to get inspired and take time in nature now.

Photos courtesy of South Coast Botanic Garden

South Coast Botanic Garden

With a storied history that includes distinctive past lives as an open-pit diatomaceous earth mine and a sanitary landfill, the botanic garden’s inception began in 1961 by visionary and Palos Verdes resident Francis Young. The 87-acre garden boasts 200,000 plants, trees, and flowers dispersed among specialty gardens including a fuchsia garden, a Japanese garden and koi pond, a banyan grove, and The Dorothy and John Bohannon Rose Garden with more than 80 rose selections.

Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. Photo by Allie Caulfield.

Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens

Founded in 1961 by nurseryman Ernest Schoefer, and his wife, Betty, the gardens are located a half-mile walk from the ocean and feature four miles of trails and 16 distinct zones including a camellia collection; a dahlia garden; a native plant garden; and a closed-cone pine forest with meandering paths and Bishop Pines stretching to nearly 100 feet. Twice a month, guests can join guided bird walks led by a Mendocino Coast Audubon Society Member for a look at more than 180 species of birds spanning Chestnut-backed chickadees and Osprey.

Filoli Historic House & Garden. Spring morning by the cottage garden beds (left). CTS Garden Shop in the morning (center). Garden House and Tulips (right).

Filoli Historic House & Garden

Located about 30 miles south of San Francisco, the storybook setting is home to a private Georgian-Revival-style mansion with 56 rooms designed by revered architect Willis S. Polk in 1917; 16-acres of formal English Renaissance gardens with 250 trees; and a one-mile estate trail through oak-madrone forests and redwood groves.

Moorten Botanical Garden

Moorten Botanical Garden

The one-acre family-owned garden and cactarium in Palm Springs showcases 3,000 varieties of obscure and cacti and flora divided by regions such as the Baja California Peninsula and the Colorado Plateau and Yuha Desert. Originally established 85 years ago by Patricia and Chester aka “Cactus Slim” Moorten—who once created landscape designs for Frank Sinatra’s Palm Springs abode and supplied desert plants for Disneyland’s Frontierland—the quirky garden with personal touches and handwritten signs is now overseen by their son, Clark, and his family.

Rose Garden trellis (left). Chinese Garden Stargazing Tower. Photo by  Beth Coller (center). Japanese Garden-Pink Cloud cherry trees (right). Photos courtesy of The Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens.

The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens

Prepare for a total art, literary, and nature immersion at this beloved sanctuary located just 12 miles from downtown Los Angeles. Once a working ranch purchased by Henry E. Huntington in 1903, the 130-acre botanical gardens showcase more than 83,000 living plants and themed gardens ranging from a Japanese garden and Subtropical garden to a Desert garden. Before leaving, stop by the on-site shop for a well-edited selection of stationery, vessels, and gardening tomes.  

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