Places to See: Descanso Gardens

two roads diverged in a yellow wood and she took neither of them. because the railroad track was far more interesting/dangerous.


Over the weekend we spent the day at Descanso Gardens which is absolute heaven. We'd been meaning to go for years and years and then when Heidi mentioned here I was like OH YES LET'S GO SEE HER PLAY except we totally double booked that day (I am extremely good at doing that) so we decided to head over this past weekend with our favorite "fifth" child, Ryan, who has become as much a part of our family as everyone else in our family. Here are some photos from our day.
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I wrote a little more about our day over at Go Mighty if you're interested. My Nana was friends with Manchester Boddy back in the day and wrote a really wonderful essay via email so that I could share it with my kids on the way to the gardens. Which is what Nana always does. She writes these beautiful essays about her experiences in Los Angeles and sends them to me and they are TREASURES, all of them. Insightful and hilarious and full of gratitude for having lived in close proximity to so many wonderful characters. 

Here's an excerpt:

...Among the people I encountered in my early life was Manchester Boddy owner and publisher of the Los Angeles Daily News, a founder of All America Rose Selections and hybridizer of camellias, proteas, and roses. He was also crazy about lilacs, eastern and California ones, and developed some of the early varieties of eastern lilac that would bloom in California. Manchester was a true gentleman through and through but a great businessman. He deeded his La Canada estate to the City of Los Angeles and it became Descanso Gardens, which is open to the public...

...We were often together socially, mainly at dinner up at the Wright’s home next door to my house in Del Mar. “Chester,” as he liked to be called, always asked to sit next to me at dinner so he could pump me full of information about plants and gardening. He said that he felt that I would someday have a career in horticulture. Among the many things he taught me was how to prune the roots of camellias and repot them back into the same  tubs. Years later when I got on TV, “How to Repot Camellias” was one of the first demonstrations I did on screen...

...While I was with the magazine (San Diego Home/Garden), I interviewed a man called Howard Asper, who once worked for him. Howard was a famous protea expert and I was writing an article on proteas. We reminisced about Manchester and how much we loved him...

...One of the stories Howard told me was about a time Manchester asked Howard to take a brand new tractor and do some work next to one of the lakes in Descanso Gardens but not to drive it across the land bridge between that lake and the next one. Manchester said, “Now don’t drive it over there because the ground is still soft and this new tractor might sink into the pond.”

Howard was young and didn’t believe him. He remembered how hard they had pounded down that ground a year earlier. He was sure it was thoroughly compacted and on this hot summer day the earth looked hard and dry. He drove the brand new tractor across and it fell into the lake. When he told Manchester what had happened, the latter simply said, “Okay, go get the old tractor and wade into the pond and hook a chain onto the new one. Then haul out that new tractor and take it to the dump. After you do that, phone this number and order another one.”“He never even raised his voice,” said Howard. “Now that was a true gentleman...”
Botanical gardens are my favorite places to bring my kids. Probably because they were my favorite places as a child. I may have a brown thumb but my eyeballs will always be green.  (Thank you, Nana.)
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