Public Gardens as Places of Hope and Healing

Descanso Gardens in Los Angeles County offered the "Wishing Tree" for visitors to share their wishes and hopes for 2021. The public response was overwhelming, with over 10,000 notes hung on the tree in a matter of weeks.

January 17, 2021, 5:00 AM PST

By clementkhlau @clemusc


Los Angeles, California

Kit Leong / Shutterstock

The American Public Gardens Association defines a public garden as "an institution that maintains collections of plants for the purposes of public education and enjoyment, in addition to research, conservation, and higher learning. It must be open to the public and the garden's resources and accommodations must be made to all visitors." During the COVID-19 pandemic, public gardens have become very popular destinations, serving as places of hope and healing for a weary public. Los Angeles County is home to numerous public gardens, including Descanso Gardens, which is one of four botanic gardens/arboreta in the county's park system.

As Mary Forgione reports in the sourse article, the Wishing Tree at Descanso Gardens was created in November 2020 using hunks of a native oak that fell down over the summer. The tree was made to allow visitors to write down their wishes for the New Year. Descanso staff first provided 10,000 pink note cards and ended up ordering 20,000 more due to the overwhelming demand from the public to share their wishes. Some children wished for a unicorn or to become a princess, while others wished for good health for their families amid the COVID-19 crisis. They all provided a snapshot of what was in the minds and hearts of Southern Californians during the most devastating health crisis in a century.

Wishing trees are a tradition in many cultures in which they serve as places to leave offerings and messages. For example, Japan holds annual Tanabata festivals in July and August during which people write their wishes on pieces of paper and hang them on a bamboo tree made for the occasion.

Saturday, December 25, 2021 in Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Skyline

New Study Ranks the Urban Heat Island Effect in U.S. Cities

A new analysis by Climate Central evaluates the intensity of urban heat islands in cities around the United States—New Orleans tops the list.

July 15, 2021 - WBUR

Adams Morgan pedestrian zone during COVID-19 pandemic

The Most Complete Map of U.S. Pedestrian Risk Yet

New research published by the Journal of Transport and Land Use analyzes tens of thousands of pedestrian fatalities over 16 years in the United States.

July 20, 2021 - Streetsblog USA

Dallas Freeway Removal

The Freeway Removal Cause Gains Momentum—But Don't Forget Gentrification and Displacement

The case for freeway in urban areas isn't as unequivocal as it might seem. Plans to undo the damage of the legacies of past freeway planning need to ensure an inclusive future.

July 14, 2021 - Los Angeles Times

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.