Spring begins this Sunday and what better way to celebrate the change in seasons than to get outside and participate in the Descanso Gardens’ new, Japanese-themed Cherry Blossom Festival. With all the tragic news coming out of Japan on a daily basis related to the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant disaster, this event is a lovely way to focus on Japanese culture and learn about traditions that have given strength to the Japanese people for hundreds of years. Visiting a beautiful garden may also allow participants to sooth anxieties that many of us are feeling as all our thoughts are with the victims of this ongoing disaster.
If you’re not familiar with Descanso Gardens, it’s a 150 acre urban retreat that was founded by newspaper magnate E. Manchester Boddy, who owned the Los Angeles Daily News. Here you will find North America’s largest camellia collection, a California Garden that showcases a variety of native plants, a five acre Rose Garden, an Iris Garden and a Japanese Garden.
During the Cherry Blossom Festival, you’ll be able to witness a traditional Japanese tea ceremony – or watch a demonstration of Japanese cooking. Enjoy bento box lunches and a Cherry-tini cocktail in the Camellia Lounge. Take a guided walk of the flowering cherry trees in the Descanso landscape, purchase a cherry tree to take home and get expert advice on cherry tree care.
Festival highlights include:
Japanese Tea Ceremonies, 11 a.m., 12:30 and 2 p.m. Saturday: Witness this traditional ceremony. Seating is limited. Tea and sweets will be sold. In the Minka.
Japanese Cooking Demonstration, 11 a.m. Sunday: Learn some basics of Japanese cuisine from Jesse Genovese, chef at Ramsey’s at The Club in Toluca Lake. Be ready to take notes! At Nature’s Table.
Prunus lecture, 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Descanso Horticulturist Mike Brown leads a discussion and demonstration on the proper methods for fertilizing and pruning these trees.
Cherry tree sale, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. both days: Purchase a flowering cherry to plant in your own garden. At Magnolia Lawn.
Cherry blossom walks, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. both days: Take a guided walk-and-talk that explores the many cherry trees in the Gardens. Meet at the Center Circle.
Bento box lunches and Cherry-Tini cocktails, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days.
In addition to activities directly related to the Cherry Blossom Festival, be sure to make time just to explore the Garden’s beautiful grounds. If you have kids, you may also want to take a ride on the Enchanted Railroad, an eighth scale replica of a diesel train that makes a loop around a portion of the grounds.
When: Saturday, March 19 to Sunday, March 20
See above for specific event timing. More information about the festival is available at the Gardens’ web site.
Where: 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge
Cost: Activities are free with admission: $8 adults, $6 seniors/students, $3 children 5-12; 4 and younger enter free.
Parking: ample free parking is available