Reimagining One of Los Angeles County's Most Popular Gardens

Learn more about the new Descanso Gardens Master Plan which is visionary, thoughtful, comprehensive, and visually stunning.

July 16, 2021, 8:00 AM PDT

By clementkhlau @clemusc


A little girl running in the beautiful Descanso Garden in 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."  Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, 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 150-acre Descanso Gardens, which is one of four botanic gardens and arboreta in the county's park system.

In this article, park planner Clement Lau discusses the new Master Plan for Descanso Gardens which was adopted by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors last year.  The Master Plan seeks to implement the mission of the gardens, which is "to practice exemplary stewardship of Descanso’s distinctive character and assets; offer people an experience close to nature; and cultivate understanding of the natural world and people’s place in it through inspiration, education and example." The plan is the result of a collaborative effort involving the Descanso Gardens Guild, the L.A. County Department of Parks and Recreation, gardens staff, members, donors, volunteers, nearby residents, individuals representing community organizations—including various local garden clubs and societies—and a design team led by RIOS, a Los Angeles based multi-disciplinary design firm.

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