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Deeply Rooted: My Life Entwined with
Descanso Gardens

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Nestled within the heart of La Canada Flintridge lies Descanso Gardens, a botanical haven that's been more than just a backdrop to my life—it's been a foundational part of it. Growing up within the boundaries of this horticultural paradise, my childhood was a symphony of natural wonders, each day a new lesson in the art and science of plants. Descanso was my classroom, playground, and sanctuary, a place where I first fell in love with the magic of growth and the beauty of nature.

Descanso Gardens isn't just another botanical garden; it's a living tapestry of history and horticulture. The land was originally part of the Rancho La Cañada Mexican land grant, but its modern story began with Manchester Boddy, a newspaper magnate who bought the land in 1937. Boddy's vision transformed these acres into a vibrant landscape, with one of the largest camellia collections in the world—a legacy that blooms vibrantly to this day.

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The camellia show at Descanso is a spectacle like no other. Imagine wandering through a seemingly endless array of camellias, each variety more breathtaking than the last. The show, distinct to Descanso, highlights the vast diversity of these flowers—from the delicate, paper-thin petals of the ‘Silver Waves’ to the bold, deep reds of the ‘Black Magic’. It's a vivid reminder of the endless possibilities of nature's palette.

Growing up, these camellias were my winter companions, their blooms a stark contrast to the bare, sleepy trees around them. They taught me resilience and the quiet strength of nature's persistence. The tulips that follow in spring are a burst of joy, each bed a carefully curated masterpiece of color and form. The cherry blossoms, with their ethereal beauty, were a yearly lesson in the transient nature of life, their brief bloom a poignant reminder of the fleeting moments we must cherish.

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But Descanso Gardens is more than just its plant collections. It's a testament to the vision of one man and the countless hands that have nurtured it since. It's a place where history whispers through the oak trees and the legacy of Boddy's vision is evident in every carefully tended path and garden bed.

As a child, Descanso was my playground; as an adult, it remains a source of endless fascination and learning. The gardens have shaped my understanding of the natural world and my place within it. They've taught me that beauty can be found in both the grand sweep of a landscaped vista and the intricate details of a single flower.

So, I invite you to visit Descanso Gardens, to walk its paths and discover its wonders. Whether you're drawn by the history, the camellias, or the simple desire to experience a piece of living art, you'll find something to inspire and delight. For me, Descanso will always be more than just a garden—it's a part of who I am, deeply rooted in my heart and soul. And perhaps, in its beauty and tranquility, you too will find something that resonates deeply within you.

~Michele Jaillet

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