Business plans to completely redesign selected area
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/15/2012 -- It has been nearly 20 years since Descanso Gardens expanded. Now officials representing the 160-acre, internationally renowned gardens are planning a four-acre woodland filled with native oaks, shrubs and grasses.
“It's almost what Descanso was before humans started cultivating plants here,” said Brian Sullivan, Descanso's director of horticulture. “What we're creating is the feeling of the landscape before people moved in.”
For decades the proposed woodland area has been off limits to the public. Up until recently, the area was riddled with non-native eucalyptus trees.
According to Sullivan, about five years ago the Los Angeles County Fire Department asked Descanso about removing the trees, which posed a fire hazard.
As the eucalyptus trees were removed and the native oaks began to thrive.
Although the new garden area will include benches and footpaths, its chief purpose is to display the native landscape of the Verdugo Mountains, said Sullivan.
Descanso hopes to begin planting in the fall of 2013 and open the woodland area in the spring of 2014, said Sullivan. The area will be the first new section of the gardens since 1994 when the rose garden was unveiled.
According to Sullivan, staff will plant acorns and young oaks alongside existing oaks. Once those mature, shrubs and meadow grasses will grow naturally, he added.
Descanso Gardens is located next to Cherry Canyon oak woodlands. “We're re-creating a natural habitat next to a natural habitat,” Sullivan said. “So we're hoping for synergy in terms of animal and plant diversity.”
Creating a holistic environment with primary and companion species is a new approach for Descanso, said Sullivan. “It's new in the sense that we're creating back here is a plant community — it's a systems-based approach.”
The project is progressing thanks to $150,000 in funding, said Jillian Rook, Descanso Gardens’ CEO. He added that $75,000 is from L.A. County’s Oak Mitigation Fund.
Although she hopes the new woodlands will attract more visitors, Rook said increasing visits is not the primary point.
“As a nonprofit we are stewards of the land, and as stewards of the land I don't think we necessarily just look at return on investment,” she said. “The decision was made on wanting to provide more space for our visitors.”
Descanso will host a public meeting with information about the project and seeking feedback from the community from 7 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 16 in Van de Kamp Hall. A walkthrough of the proposed garden will occur at 1 p.m. Saturday for those who are in the gardens at the time.
For more information on the walk-through or community meeting, visit or call (818) 949-4200.
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