Outdoor Fun

One of SoCal's Star Blooms Is a Wintertime Favorite

The camellia can be seen, in all sorts of spectacular hues, across the region, but Descanso Gardens is synonymous with the showy flower.

Rosemary Calvert

What to Know

  • Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge
  • The destination is home to the acclaimed Camellia Collection
  • $15 adult, $11 senior, $11 student, $5 children, children under 5 admitted free; advance tickets required

The rosiest day of the Southern California calendar may arrive on the first day of January, at least in and around the Crown City, but there's another flower that holds court each winter, and rather close to Pasadena, too.

It's the camellia, a petal-packed blossom that could, at quick glance, seem to possess some of the shape, color, and plump-a-tude of the classic rose, but a longer look tells a flower fan that they're dealing with a wholly different delight.

This is a spectacular specimen that reaches its perfect peak in January and February, at least around Los Angeles, all while cheerily challenging the notion that gardens only get glorious when springtime arrives.

Where to go to see this glorious garden celebrity, in profusion, as it brightens up a time that's not normally associated with verdancy and new growth?

Descanso Gardens, in La Cañada Flintridge, has long served as Camellia Central around our region, so much so that an entire area of the expansive property has been devoted to several varieties of the flower.

"Before the area was opened to the public as Descanso Gardens, the land was an oak forest," shares the landmark on its site.

"In 1942, Descanso founder E. Manchester Boddy purchased the nursery stock of at least three Japanese-owned nurseries. Two grower families, the Yoshimuras and Uyematsus, sold their life's work prior to their incarceration by the United States government during the Second World War."

"These plants, including rare and unique breeds of camellias, became the basis of the camellia collection."

No separate ticket is required to admire the Camellia Collection, which reaches its zenith in January and February, presenting "a most dazzling floral display."

But you will want to purchase an advance ticket to the gardens, before you go, and review the destination's safety policies and procedures.

Also happening as January 2022 begins, though not for long? The final fabulous days of Enchanted Forest of Light, a special evening event featuring illuminated installations.

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