Today, I ventured out to the Descanso Gardens for their special Camellia Festival.
The gardens are a quick jaunt along my favorite little freeway, the 2 into La Cañada/Flintridge. You may remember I went there a few weeks ago and loved the area, and it was a joy to drive there today as well.
I got there in good time, found a good parking spot, and paid the $7 admission fee, all the while not quite knowing what to expect. I'd never seen a camellia previously, but since I grew up around flowers and two avid gardeners (my parents), I figured it would be fun no matter what.
Oh...my god. I have never fallen so hard for a flower so quickly before, EVER. Camellias are now up there beside my beloved lilies, rhodies, and lilac as one of my absolute faves! The Descanso is world-renowned for its camellias, and now I know why. They are stunning. The one in the photo above is my absolute favorite, but all the various colors are absolutely surreally gorgeous.
The land upon which the garden now stands was purchased in 1937 by E. Manchester Boddy, owner of the Los Angeles Daily News who developed the Descanso and built a 22-room mansion (which was sadly closed for renovations today) on the grounds. By the way, "descanso" means "rest" in Spanish, and these are the most restful, relaxing gardens I've ever been in, including the massive Huntington in Pasadena!
As this was a festival day, there was magic afoot! Fairies were everywhere! I hopped on the first "Fairy Tour" of the morning, given by a beautiful blue fairy! I loved her outfit and she was so super adorable with the little kids and filled with interesting facts about the gardens. I was the only non-mom, non-kid in the group, but I didn't care, it was fun! At the end of the brief tour, we all made a wish, before the blue fairy treated us to a little song before bidding us all farewell.
As soon as I heard you could take the flowers home, I began picking the fallen blooms off the forest floor and continued to collect them throughout the day! Camellias are just as stunning cut as they are on the vine, and are commonly used to make corsages. Boddy actually started the Descanso as a way to make money in cut flowers.
Like my new hair adornment? :)
Here are some good glimpses of how the camellias grow. Heavy with blooms, the greenery bends forward, creating a little archway of flowers, which looks like the secret entrance to a magical fairyland!
The camellias are almost surreal, aren't they? I was absolutely mesmerized by them, and spent much of the day walking around with my mouth agape as each bloom revealed itself to be more perfect and lovely than the last.
I had noticed a few of these "nom de fleurs" around, and thought I'd make one for myself! :)
This is yet another area of the gardens, complete with a stunning lake view. Comfy park benches dotted the park in hidden-away areas, perfect for contemplation and/or cuddling!
The grounds themselves were like a beautiful fairyland. Dozens of scenic walking paths meandered throughout the park, and you were never sure where they were going to lead or what you might stumble across...
The woods are filled with fairy magic!
A few wonderfully scented calla lilies had already bloomed, but come later in the year, there will be lilies galore!!! I can't wait!
At first, I thought this was a druid structure, but it highlights the mathematics of flowers and how spirals occur in nature.
Me with my favorite type of camellia. *sighs*
This gorgeous fountain is in the massive rose garden that has yet to bloom. Of course I had to make a wish, but I'm not telling you what I wished for or it won't come true!
I spent a good four hours ambling around the gardens, which house two full sections of camellias, plus another section of plants and flowers native to California, plus an immense rosegarden AND a lovely lilac garden, both of which weren't in bloom yet, but this gives me a fantastic excuse to return!
Although known for their camellias, the Descanso houses various other types of flora and fauna, including some hilariously loud squirrels and a very cute (but camera shy!) lizard!
Walking around the grounds, I felt so calm, so at peace with everything. The Descanso is one of the most magical places I've visited in Southern California, and I can't wait to return. I was a little pressed for time today as I had a dental appointment mid-afternoon, I promised myself I would definitely return ASAP to this magical world.
And Fairyland even has a gift shop!
LOVE these fairy garden statues and ladybug pillow! Makes me wish I had a garden. *sighs*
I seriously need to befriend whoever drives this car. LOVE IT!!! XD By the way, the dental hygienist told me my oral hygiene is better than it's ever been before and whatever I'm doing, keep it up! HOORAY! I told her I had become vegan, and she agreed that's probably helping! Score yet another one for Veganism!!! :D
I absolutely LOVED the Descanso Gardens, and recommend them to anyone. There were kids, adults, men, women, photographers, lovers, seniors, and everyone else in between there today, and it's such a quick, scenic jaunt to La Cañada, I can't believe I've only just discovered this heavenly place! I even told the hygienist at my appointment today about the Descanso, and she's going tomorrow with her husband!
Hope you enjoyed coming along with me!