I recently heard an NPR interview with Richard Louv author of “ Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life” and was enthralled by the practical ways he talked about connecting with and enjoying nature. So on Sunday morning we paid a visit to Descanso gardens. These gardens are well-known for their wide variety of camellias, many of which have matured to a point that they are more akin to small trees than bushes.
We arrived around 10:00 and were able to avoid the crowds. We took the beautiful un-manicured trails through scrub oaks, camellia bushes, humming bird sage, ivy and many bushes of white buddleia; truly a natural paradise. We eyed a shy spotted towhee and when he flew away we were able to see his amber chest and spotted wing markings. We see a lot of the more common brown towhees but the spotted cousin is, for us, a rare site. Alas, we were not able to take his picture but the Audubon site has some lovely photos of this little bird.
We also spotted a plaque hanging from a scrub oak that explained how the scrub oak is a fundamental part of the local chaparral as its acorn supply is key to the success of those species dependent on its well-being such as wood rats, squirrels and their predators. The trail we took was thick with tangled shrubs and thorny bushes that were home to a wide variety of birds, butterflies and lizards.
While hiking we were able to vicariously share the excitement of two little boys who were discovering ants and lizards first hand by digging through leaves and dirt. Witnessing this brought me back to the interview with Richard Louv and his discussion of the "belly walk". This is where you crawl along on your stomach, at a snail's pace, allowing you to experience nature on a more micro level.
There are also areas that will appeal to those who prefer a more manicured garden such as this beautiful water garden that greets you at the entrance to the park, reminiscent of Monet's beautiful gardens in Giverny.
And, just for fun, the whimsically named fried egg or Matilija poppy made one long for a hearty breakfast.
The Descanso Gardens are a wonderful family destination as children under the age of 5 are free and admission is waived for everyone on the 3rd Tuesday of every month.
Richard Louv is spot on when describing nature as a vitamin ( "N" is for nature) and certainly one we all need for our physical and mental well-being. During our 2 hour hike we breathed more deeply and felt happy and relaxed. We came away with ideas for a new door handle, inspired by the shapes of the camellia petals and the crepey petals of the Matilija poppy. So stay tuned!
To view our entire collection of door handles and other architectural hardware, please visit our site at www.martinpierce.com.
Designers can visit the showroom located at:
5433 W. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, Ca 90016