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By now you know that I do love gardens of all types. I have paid memberships to five different gardens here in Southern California. One reason for this is that we have several gardens within a relatively small radius of my home and the American Horticultural Society Reciprocal Admission Program (RAP) membership benefits are only valid if a garden is more than 90 miles from your “home” garden. This abundance of great public gardens is a blessing. These are also gardens that I visit regularly so the cost of membership is a bargain compared to paying for multiple admissions during the year. I do visit many AHS member gardens that are more than 90 miles away, including a trip to the New York Botanic Garden in the Bronx week before last. I will be visiting the renowned Chicago Botanic Garden to shoot in just a few weeks, again using those reciprocal benefits.
If you haven’t already, I encourage you to seek out one or more gardens in your local area that you truly enjoy and where you find a bit of peace, relaxation, joy or whatever emotion best suits you. These memberships are often relatively inexpensive, and your financial support helps to ensure that these gardens remain a valuable resource in your community. Your membership can also provide an economical family outing while traveling. My sister and her family of 4 saved $84 on their visit to NYBG with me. That outing was enjoyable for the whole family and budget friendly (it cost nothing) in an expensive city like New York. You can find a list of AHS member gardens here.
What is it though that makes a particular garden one of my summertime favorites? The answer is a serious (like large) water garden rich with water lilies, lotus blossoms, dragonflies, and other water garden inhabitants. The water garden pictured at the top is in my mind the ultimate water garden – Les Jardins de Claude Monet at Giverny. It was the highlight of my last trip to France, and I must say it was just as beautiful as I expected. It’s easy to see why Monet was so productive here. The downside of course is the mass of tourists I encountered, so my dream photo shoot is a private or small group early morning photo outing. Trust me, this is on my bucket list and I’ll be scouring the sofa cushions for the money.
Two of the memberships I have are to gardens that do not participate in the AHS RAP program. They are the Huntington Library and Gardens in San Marino, CA and the lesser known but oh so important to me Lotusland in Montecito, CA. These are my two most expensive memberships, but oh so rewarding when it comes to the summer water garden experience that they provide.
If you live in Southern California, or are planning a visit, here are links to the five gardens that I am a member of. You’ll enjoy a visit to any of them, and who knows? I might just run into you there.
1. Descanso Gardens, La Cañada Flintridge, CA
2. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanic Gardens, San Marino, CA (No RAP)
3. Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Arcadia, CA
4. Lotusland, Montecito, CA (No RAP)
5. South Coast Botanic Garden, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
It was my pleasure to share with you a few images from some of my recent summer water garden visits. I hope you enjoyed them!
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