For those of us who live in Orange County, Thousand Oaks can seem like a long way to go, but actually, it took less than two hours from San Clemente, and for residents of Anaheim it should be less time. The “Gardens of the World” are easily reached by taking the 5 freeway to the 101, then exiting when you reach Thousand Oaks Blvd.
Fall is an ideal time to make this trip, as the temperature is not as high, as during the summer months, and the crowds have dwindled – especially if you go on a weekday.
I went on a Tuesday, arrived shortly after they opened at 9:00am, and found the Gardens with few visitors – at that time. The first thing that struck me was how tranquil the gardens were, the perfect spot to relax and re-group in today’s hectic world, and they provide lots of benches, under hanging leaves, for just that.
The gardens showcases, many of the cultures of the world, that was the center of Ed & Lynn Hogan’s travel business. The 4.5 acres is tastefully laid out and easy to navigate, with pathways that lead to the different gardens.
1. The Japanese Garden captures the “balance and harmony” for which Asia is well known. The authentic Pagoda is set amid bamboo trees, with a Poi pond that has large – and small – poi fish; a rock formation in the pond representing a turtle and crane – symbols of longevity; a Dragon Gate waterfall – where it is said “if the Poi make it to the top of the waterfall, they become a dragon”; a large flat stone or “kutsunugi” at the entrance to the Pagoda, where one leaves their sandals (or shoes), before entering. Surrounded by lots of foliage this place bekons to all, to stop awhile and just relax.
2. The French Garden with mazes of structured boxwood hedges, and numerous water features, similar to those found in gardens in France. At the entrance to the garden their is a “parterres” shaped like a butterfly, and in another spot in the garden there is one shaped like the “sun”. There is also a beautiful fountain – a replica of one that can be seen in Versailles France – which dominates the garden.
3. The Italian Garden is set beneath a grape arbor, with cypress trees, it reminds one of the famed gardens in Italy, which traditionally do not have a lot of flowers, but are built on terraced hillsides with evergreen “topiary” and fountains.
4. The Mission Courtyard is a tribute to the early history of California and the famous “Missions” that were build by Father Junipero Serra – one of which can be seen in San Juan Capistrano. Murals of all the “Missions” are painted on the Garden’s Mission Courtyard walls. The animal prints, in the “hand made floor tiles”, are a symbol of good luck, and benches in the courtyard welcomes one to -rest awhile and enjoy the gentle breeze from the tall trees, nearby.
5. The English Perennial and Rose Garden, is the largest of all the gardens and features shaped hedges of many colors throughout. Pathways wind thru the different beds of flowers, while the many trees and shrubs lend it a balanced structure. Each bed of flowers displays a variety of colors, fragrance and texture, and includes over 400 rose bushes. As with the other gardens, benches are placed in shady nooks for visitors to relax and perhaps catch sight of the butteflies that frequent the gardens.
Located at the center of the Gardens is a traditional American bandstand. The history of bandstands dates back to the eighteenth century, a time when they were used as a gathering place for the townspeople to enjoy concerts and band music. Here in the gardens that tradition is repeated on Sunday afternoons, as musical performances are held in the bandstand. Families can also enjoy a picnic, in the adjacent picnic area complete with tables and benches.
Visitors can either take one of the “Docent” led tours of the Gardens, learning all about them; or they can opt – like I did – to use the self-guided pamphlet and enjoy the gardens at one’s own pace. The “Gardens of the World” is also available to Chariatable Organizations to hold “Fund Raising events”.
Our thanks go out to the “Hogan Family” who were motivated to build this ideal spot, and give it to the community, in which they live, and conducted a very successful travel business for many years, and for making it open and free for all who wish to visit.