As we were driving out to Gardens of the World in Thousand Oaks, California, I hoped I wasn’t taking my friends on a wild goose chase. I had read about the Gardens in an issue of Westways Magazine. Another friend who had previously ventured out there said it was worth the drive (about 45 minutes in Saturday traffic from Culver City), so I had my fingers crossed.
At a mere four acres I knew it wasn’t going to compete with the Huntington Library or Descanso Gardens. I had just returned from a trip to England. How would this hold up to the beautiful displays I had seen in London?
My first pass along Thousand Oaks Boulevard I missed the main entrance. The trick is to drive slowly and look for the street address as the signage for the driveway is rather subdued.
Ed and Lynn Hogan, founders of Pleasant Holidays, built the gardens in the former location of a strip mall to give something back to the community where they lived and enjoyed a successful business. The park consists of The Japanese Garden, The French Garden and cascading waterfall, The Mission Courtyard, The English Perennial & Rose Garden, The Italian Garden with a chain fountain, and the American Bandstand stage.
There is no entrance fee and the small parking lot is also free.
We were lucky enough to arrive just as one of the docents was about to embark on a private tour for two visitors who had booked in advance. The tour guide and the two ladies very graciously allowed us to tag along.
My fears regarding the adequacy of the Gardens were immediately allayed as we set out on the walk. The photos I took can tell the story much more eloquently than my words. After the guided tour, we strolled around the park on our own and took photos. All I can say is I was amazed at how much gorgeousness was packed into such a small space.
We saw an artist sketching in a shady nook. There is certainly enough inspiration for any kind of creativity.
We all commented on how peaceful the area was although right off the main road. It is a tranquil oasis for birds, animals (mostly squirrels), insects and humans.
When we felt we had our fill of plants and flowers, we drove a few yards down the road to the California Pizza Kitchen where we sat out in the wonderful southern California sunshine and ate lunch/dinner, otherwise known as lunner. I ordered my favorite Moroccan salad with non-fat Balsamic vinaigrette dressing on the side. Bliss.
(photos copyright roslyn m wilkins)