Move over, poppies. Roses are having a moment in Southern California

The Exposition Park Rose Garden.
(Adam Markovitz)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Saturday, May 25. Here’s what you need to know to start your weekend:

May is the best time to bask in a rose garden. Here’s where to find the best ones

May gray and subsequently June gloom might linger for longer than we’d like this year.

But that doesn’t mean you should avoid going outside to smell the roses (literally!).

California’s state flower, the poppy, isn’t having a superbloom this year. Right now the rose is having a moment.


Roses have been in bloom since late March, but in May they really start to pop. Abundant sunshine and mild weather in Southern California make for an ideal climate for rose gardens, with their vibrant colors and intoxicating fragrances.

The blooms flourish from spring all the way through the beginning of winter.

Not only are roses great to look at, they’re also natural mood boosters.

Karen Haney, who teaches horticultural therapy at UCLA extension, told Times contributor Adam Markovitz, “Roses give us a wide range of sensory experience that we can use to improve our mood,” noting that the kaleidoscopic colors and textures can actually engage our brains to reduce anxiety.

Luckily for Angelenos, you have from now until mid-December to soak in some of the most beautiful and relaxing rose gardens in the L.A. area.

Adam put together a list of seven L.A. gardens where you can stop and smell the roses.

Here are just a few rose gardens Adam highlights:

Dominguez Rancho Adobe Museum rose garden

Rose plants near a walkway and statue at Dominguez Rancho Adobe Museum.
The rose gardens at Dominguez Rancho Adobe Museum.
(Adam Markovitz)

A rose garden bigger than the one at the White House? That’s what you’ll experience at the Dominguez Rancho Adobe Museum, with 300 blooming rose varieties including historic bushes and modern ones such as the eye-catching Ketchup and Mustard rose (red and yellow) and the yellow George Burns with its citrus-like fragrance.

Exposition Park Rose Garden

Known as the largest free, public rose garden in L.A., you’ll see more than 19,000 blooms filling 166 rose beds across seven acres, with plaques identifying every variety.

As Adam notes, at Exposition Park you’ll find towering pink-and-white Unforgettables that stand more than 6 feet tall, Rock & Roll blooms that look like tiny action paintings with streaks of red and white pigment, swirling baby-pink Falling in Loves and so many more.

The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens

Jump for Joy rose at The Huntington Library Rose Gardens.
(Ricardo DeAratanha/Los Angeles Times)

At the Huntington, you’ll find a sprawling collection of extraordinary roses — which makes up a single section of the museum’s 130 acres of gardens.

In the rose garden, you’ll find labels with information about the many blooms including Huntington’s 100th, a yellow and pink Floribunda hybrid named in honor of the museum’s centennial in 2019.

Rancho Los Alamitos rose garden

A photograph of the rose garden at Alamitos.
(Adam Markovitz)

Located in Long Beach, Rancho’s four acres include sprawling gardens for cacti and native plants, but roses have a particularly tranquil position on a tiled terrace in the garden.

The rose garden holds a few dozen plants, including the Los Angeles rose, which became the first Southern California rose to win the coveted Bagatelle prize in Paris in 1918.


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For your weekend

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Have a great weekend, from the Essential California team

Kevinisha Walker, multiplatform editor
Christian Orozco, assistant editor

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