Our Mission

“Descanso Gardens is a unique Southern California landscape distinguished by its specialized botanic collections, historical significance, and rare natural beauty. Our mission is to practice exemplary stewardship of Descanso’s distinctive character and assets; offer people an experience close to nature; and cultivate understanding of the natural world and people’s place in it through inspiration, education and example.”

Who We Are

We are an urban retreat located 20 minutes from downtown Los Angeles, Descanso Gardens is a place of year-round natural beauty, with internationally renowned botanical collections and spectacular seasonal horticultural displays. Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums as a museum of living collections, Descanso Gardens welcomes 350,000 visitors annually. The principal collections include California native plants and oak woodlands; one of the largest collections of camellias in the Western Hemisphere; a rose garden with specimens from all corners of the globe; and significant presentations of lilacs, maple trees, cherry trees and iris. Descanso Gardens has been designated an International Camellia Garden of Excellence by the International Camellia Society. The Gardens are operated by the Descanso Gardens Guild, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, in a public-private partnership with Los Angeles County. The annual budget of $6.4 million is funded by memberships, philanthropic gifts, fees and support from Los Angeles County.

Our History

Descanso Gardens is a story of plants and the people who loved them for their life-giving utility and their great natural beauty. While the tale unfolds over centuries, the connecting thread – from the tribal people who relied on the plentiful oaks for food and their way of life to the 20th century entrepreneur who sowed the seeds of a cultural institution – is a deep-seated love for this evocative and distinctive place. Its evolution into a botanic garden, open to the public and nationally accredited as a “museum of living collections,” is but the most recent chapter in the rich history of this landscape. Today Descanso Gardens remains an oasis of beauty, both rugged and refined. In its eloquent landscapes, vignettes and vistas we can experience firsthand moments in the epic story of humans’ relationships with the natural world and enjoy a refuge of stunning beauty.

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Financial Information

View the 2016 Annual Report here.
View the 2016 Audited Financial Statements here.