Love, out of the box
February 8, 2012
Sick of dropping sixty bucks on a few measly roses? This year, treat your valentine to tens of thousands of live flowers on a romantic stroll through one of the breathtaking public gardens of Los Angeles County.
Love certainly won’t be the only thing blooming at Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Gardens. Magnolias, the largest flower outside of the tropics, will be in full blossom. The gardens have more than 60 varieties. Magnolias have been cultivated for more than 1,400 years in China, where monks arranged them in temples to represent the female yin, purity and truthfulness. Orchids will also be showcased. Three thousand of the best ones will be brought in for display among the waterfalls of the tropical greenhouse.
The grounds at the arboretum are a big part of the attraction, from the ornate Queen Anne Cottage to the community garden. Resident peacocks, egrets and other wildlife will keep you company as you explore the lush environment.
If you plan on celebrating early—and if your valentine is a fungi fancier—the arboretum will host the popular Wild Mushroom Fair on Sunday, February 12. There will be displays, growing lessons and cooking demonstrations, along with mushroom-relevant books, collectibles and art for sale. For $10 per person, guests can attend a lecture from mushroom guru Gary Lincoff. Proceeds benefit the Los Angeles Mycological Society.
Over at Descanso Gardens, the camellia will take center stage. Descanso boasts the largest collection of camellias in North America, and the blossoms are at their very best during February. Cherry trees, magnolias and daffodils are also blooming.
Descanso has special activities planned for Valentines Day. For $25 a couple, a “Tram Tour of Love” will take lovebirds to all the best spots. You can reserve seats for a 3 p.m. or 4 p.m. excursion. That evening, a three course holiday dinner will be served in the Boddy House, a 22-room hilltop mansion with a panoramic view of the San Gabriel Mountains. Reservations are $78 per person.
If you’re looking for something a bit smaller-scale, the Italian terrace at Virginia Robinson Gardens will have camellias, pansies, violas and pink rock roses, all in bloom. The gardens are located on the historic estate in
Beverly Hills, built in 1911. Tours are by appointment only; call (310) 550-2087 to make a reservation.
Walking tours of gardens are a healthy and inexpensive alternative to the traditional consumerism of Valentine’s Day. But if the money you save still burns a hole in your pocket, consider showing some love to the Arboretum to help it fully recover from damage done by a strong Santa Ana windstorm in December.