Late winter and early spring are wonderful times to visit some of our nearby, low-water use, botanic gardens. Plants are blooming and the heat of summer is still far away. Here are some spots to consider:
Moorten Botanical Garden, a one-acre garden and Palm Springs historical landmark, was started by a member of the original Keystone Kops. It features a collection of more than 3,000 species of cactus and other desert-adapted plants including prickly pears, agaves and cacti. The garden has a laid-back ambience. Kitschy knickknacks mingle with the plants, but in winter and early spring, the collection is worth a visit.
Located in Rancho Mirage, Sunnylands is built on a 200-acre estate formerly owned by the Annenbergs. The historic mid-century modern home is surrounded by nine acres of meticuously landscaped desert gardens filled with over 50,000 plants. Both the gardens and the home can be visited Wednesdays through Sunday. According to the website of James Burnett, the architects who designed the garden, “In addition to the selection of regionally-appropriate plants, the project features restored desert habitat, high-efficiency capillary irrigation system, soil moisture monitoring, on-site storm water retention, geothermal wells, a significant photovoltaic array and an on-site green waste recycling program.”
While not a desert, it does get warm in Claremont in the summer. In any case, since California natives bloom in the winter and spring, those are the ideal times to visit the 86-acre Claremont gardens of Rancho Santa Ana, the largest botanic garden dedicated to native plants. The Garden has curated collections of more than 22,000 California native plants (about 2000 taxa), some of which are rare or endangered. Open daily.
If you are in the mood for a woodland experience, Montane Botanic Garden, in Oak Glen, California, offers 220 acres of wild lands that include oak woodland, conifer forest, chaparral, grasslands, wetlands, springs, ponds and two year-round streams with riparian habitat corridors, as well as landscaped areas such as Hummingbird Hill, Falling Waters, and The Artist’s Palette. There is not much shade, so late winter is a great time to take a stroll or hike and enjoy the beautiful scenery.