LA County Arboretum & Botanic Garden
Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden
Sitting on 127 acres of land surrounding a natural spring-fed lake, the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden stretches out against a gorgeous backdrop of the San Gabriel Mountains. Originally referred to as “the place of many waters,” the area was has belonged to Native Americans, Spanish missionaries, Mexican ranch owners, and wealthy businesspeople. It’s a big place with plenty to offer: fountains, geographically-themed garden displays, tropical greenhouses, and a manmade waterfall. This is an excellent garden to spend the day exploring – in fact, it was my second visit and I still feel like I have not seen everything.
There was a nice balance in the spacing: there are wide open spaces and fields to spread out in, but forested areas and secluded paths that offer a more insular experience. I really enjoyed Bauer Lawn, which had ornate fountains and marble features set against wide expanses of manicured grass. The Baldwin Lake is dreamy, edged by the lush Prehistoric Forest on one side and the fanciful Queen Anne Cottage across the lake. The Africa & Australia Gardens are well laid out with lots of space to stroll between interesting dry-weather plantings. Admiring the Meyberg Waterfall from below was impressive but there was a pleasant little nook above the cascade accessed from the stairs where you could sit and really get swept away in the tropical ambiance. My favorite areas were the rose garden surrounded by the citrus grove and the well-designed herb garden.
The arboretum also happens to be home to a flock of around 200 peafowl that were originally brought in by the land’s previous owner Elias Jackson Baldwin, who was in fact responsible for introducing these birds into the continental U.S. The many peacocks and peahens are quite attentive throughout your visit, greeting you in the parking lot, posing dramatically atop rocks for pictures, and by closing time all coming in to say farewells in a tree by the visitor center. The peacocks add to the whole experience, and have even become an emblem of the Arboretum as well as the town of Arcadia.
Final Rating: The arboretum was about an hour outside of the LA but well worth the drive into the beautiful San Gabriel Valley. There was plenty of variety in the different sections of the property, from the geographic gardens, to the more wooded areas and indoor greenhouses to explore. The grounds are not huge but the design feels spacious and uncrowded with one section of the gardens leading onto the next with ample paths to explore. This would be a lovely garden for a casual romantic date with is peaceful atmosphere and many charming spots to be discovered. FOUR BLOOM RATING