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FROM THE EDITOR: Gardens to Visit This Summer

Water Garden and pool house at Lotusland. Image courtesy of Rod Waddington.

By Susan Starr.

Southern California is home to many famous public gardens, including the Huntington Botanical Gardens, Descanso Gardens, and the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. San Diego has its own share of lovely gardens, including multiple gardens at Balboa Park and the San Diego Botanic Garden. However, there are other, less frequently visited, gardens in the area that you may want to try this summer. Whether you are entertaining visiting relatives or are just in the mood for a field trip, any of these gardens are sure to make for a wonderful day. Listed in order of distance from San Diego:

Laguna Beach

Established in 1959, this garden covers 2.5 acres of the upper slopes of Boat Canyon in Laguna Beach, California, and showcases the range of plants that can be grown in Southern California coastal zones. Miller was an environmentalist and author who created one of the best private gardens in the country and whose knowledge of plants was sought by leading horticulturists. Visitors can also explore her mid-century modern home. Reservations are required. Tours may be scheduled the first and third Saturdays and the second and fourth Thursdays of each month (holidays excluded) from 10:00 AM until Noon.

San Clemente

Casa Romantica was built in 1927 as the family home of Ole Hanson, the founder of the City of San Clemente. The 2.5 acres of coastal gardens began with Ole Hanson’s first plantings and now incorporate extensive water-wise and native plantings which reflect the unique California coastal environment. In addition to beautiful plantings, the gardens offer a stunning view of the Pacific Ocean. More than thirty gardens exist today, each with unique horticultural features and appeal. Visitors can also tour the charming Spanish revival home, which includes photographs and other memorabilia relating to the history of Southern California.

Sherman Library & Gardens

Corona del Mar

Sherman Library & Gardens occupies 2.2 acres in Corona del Mar. This charming, well-manicured garden features a diverse array of plants, including those from both desert and tropical zones. There is a small fern collection, a tropical conservatory with orchids and gingers, a cactus garden, and a large Begonia collection.

Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden


Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden is the largest botanic garden dedicated to California native plants. Its curated collections include more than 22,000 California native plants, some of which are rare or endangered. Spread across 86 acres in Claremont, California, the Garden is located approximately 35 miles east of Los Angeles. The Garden displays about 2000 taxa of California plants and includes those native to the California Floristic Province.



Lotusland is a stunning 37-acre Montecito estate once owned by the late Madame Ganna Walska. A well-known opera singer and socialite, she purchased the property in 1941 and spent the next 43 years transforming it into a landscape featuring over 3000 plants. Bromeliads, ferns, succulents, cactus, topiaries, an aloe garden, and a Japanese garden all delight the visitor to this unique property. Open Wednesday through Saturday; reservations required.

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