In the 1930’s, E. Manchester Boddy purchased this 150 acre rancho in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, north of Los Angeles near the town of La Canada. He was then the owner of the Los Angeles Daily News. He named it Rancho del Descanso. In addition, he commissioned the design and construction of a home for himself and his family. The result was a 12,000 square feet, 22 room mansion that was fully restored in 2007.
In 1953, he donated the property to Los Angeles County and today it is administered by the Descanso Gardens Guild. The property has lakes, streams and several distinct districts or “gardens”. There’s the Rose garden, California Natives, Fern Canyon, Japanese Garden & Tea House and large stands of the iconic California coastal live oaks. Boddy purchased an estimated 60,000 to 100,000 Camellia plants which are scattered among the stands of oaks.
Since our visit took place in January, there weren’t many blooms except for some of the camellias. However, it is a very tranquil place with lots of pathways and benches conveniently located in quiet shady spots. There are lakes and streams throughout. And the Enchanted Railroad, a 1/8 scale train that makes a circuit around a section of the gardens. For our visit the weather was very pleasant. We took a small picnic lunch that we were able to enjoy in the picnic area just outside the entrance.
Descanso Gardens is not a major tourist attraction but makes for a very pleasant day trip. We look forward to visiting again when the roses and other flowers are in full bloom.