​Top 5 Places in Los Angeles for Garden Geeks

With a Mediterranean climate that is temperate year round, it's no surprise that Los Angeles is a veritable oasis of public gardens. No matter the season, there is always something growing and blossoming, whether it's roses in summer or camellias in winter. If spending an afternoon amongst the plants and flowers is your idea of time well spent, then you must definitely check out one or more of these excellent local gardens.

Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens
Arguably the granddaddy of all Los Angeles gardens, the Botanical Gardens at the Huntington Library near Pasadena sprawl over 120 acres and offer visitors a dazzling variety of smaller themed gardens within. Give yourself plenty of time to explore and get lost in this bad boy, which features everything from the Desert Garden showcasing cacti and succulents to the Shakespeare Garden that evokes the English countryside of days gone by.

Descanso Gardens
Smaller and less expensive than it's showier cousin, the Huntington Botanical Gardens, Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge still has much to offer garden lovers. Home to the largest camellia collection in North America, Descanso Gardens also boasts an awe-inspiring grove of centuries-old oak trees, a five-acre rose garden and a fragrant stand of over 400 lilacs. While you're there, check out the Boddy House, the former residence of the founder of Descanso Gardens, which is an excellent example of the Hollywood Regency architectural style and is now a museum showcasing the history of the property.

The Japanese Garden
Even the San Fernando Valley has something to offer in the garden department. The Japanese Garden SuihoEn, which means "garden of water and fragrance," may be small at only 6.5 acres, but it's the perfect place to lose yourself in a meditative state. Located adjacent to the Tillman Water Reclamation Plant in Van Nuys, the Japanese Garden was designed to illustrate how reclaimed water can be used in a positive way and serves as a place to escape from the stress and pressures of the surrounding city.

Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden
Located just outside Los Angeles in the city of Arcadia is the 127-acre Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden. The garden is home to plants from all over the world, which are generally arranged by region of origin. Learn about California history as you stroll amongst the flowers, stop for a spell at Lake Baldwin and admire the outdoor structures such as the Queen Anne Cottage, which you may recognize from the opening credits of the television show "Fantasy Island."

Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine
You could drive by the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine a thousand times while on your way to the beach and not even realize it, which would be a shame. This ten-acre respite tucked in the Pacific Palisades off of Sunset Boulevard honors the world's five main religions and offers many places to simply sit and enjoy the plants, flowers, swans and koi. It is also home to the Mahatma Gandhi World Peace Memorial, where a portion of Gandhi's ashes has been enshrined.

Amy Clites is a Los Angeles writer, content creator and actor who became a proud garden geek when she moved to California in 2007. She writes about her experiences in urban gardening, traveling, cooking and more on her blog ZeitClites and on Twitter @AmyClites.