Dahlia Bloom at South Coast Botanic Garden

Stroll among these seasonal beauties on the Palos Verdes Peninsula.

THE FLOWERS OF SPRINGTIME... can dominate our fancies, and with fine reason. After all, winter has just ended, and the colorful petals popping up are an immediate and obvious contrast to the starker season that's just ended. But fall has its flowers, too, though sometimes they can be overshadowed by autumn's other celebrated splash of color, leafy fall foliage. Southern California's mountains haven't really started up their hue-strong show as of early September, but there is a place to enjoy a bright favorite of late summer, and the fall, too, on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. That spot? It's South Coast Botanic Garden, which is home to a dazzling, delightful, and oh-so-September-riffic Dahlia Garden.

THE DAHLIA... traditionally makes a robust showing from around the middle of summer into September, October, and even November, if you time it right, making it a true superstar of the season. But finding dahlias outside of florist shops? It isn't always the easiest thing, save a small domestic plot here and there, to locate. South Coast Botanic Garden's dahlia-rich area, though, features "(s)howy blooms in a large variety of colors and sizes," giving dahlia devotees the eye-popping experience they seek come the fall. Of course, the dahlias aren't alone at the expansive gardens; roses, classic Mediterranean plants, and other forms of flora make any visit a vivacious one.

IT'S $9... per adult to enter the garden, and the hours? They're as wide open as the heart of a dahlia bloom, for you'll find the garden open each day, save Christmas Day. Fall foliage is still to come, but a dose of dahlia-ness is just the autumn-starter floral fans of the season often seek.

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