As days get longer, and warmer, it figures people will be looking for a way to fill those extra hours. May we suggest a beautiful solution? Gardens. And not just one sort of garden, because in Long Beach there are gardens for contemplation, gardens to excite your senses, even gardens located where you might never expect to find a garden. Indeed, these floral meangeries are hidden gems, quite literally. One is located in the middle of a university campus, another in a country club, one sits behind a golf course, while the other lives on a pedestrian bridge. But they are there, just waiting to give you what you need. Allow us to show you the way.
RANCHO LOS ALAMITOS
6400 E. Bixby Hill Rd.
Amazing the variety found on these 7.5 acres, and how quickly it all feels so intimate. The giant Moreton Bay Fig Trees and their massive, exposed root systems, stand sentinel-like to either side of the historic ranch house built in the early 1800s. Then there are the oleander, geranium and jacaranda walks, as well as the native, cactus and rose gardens to be explored, all helping to slow your pace – and heart rate. If you’re looking to pump it back up, head to the Stallion Barn and behold Preston, the magnificent, awesomely huge Shire horse. The rancho is located in a gated community that borders the eastern perimeter of Cal State Long Beach. Tell the guard at the gate you’re headed to the Rancho Los Alamitos, and they’ll wave you right through.
RANCHO LOS CERRITOS
4600 Virginia Rd.
Rather hidden itself behind the Virginia Country Club, Rancho Los Cerritos has an impressive Moreton Bay Fig Tree of its own, as well as a rockstar of a Ginkgo tree that attracts a lot of attention each fall when its leaves turn a spectacular shock of gold. There are citrus trees – limes, oranges, lemons – in an orchard to one side of the adobe residence that produce a delicious aroma. Along another side is a violet wisteria draped along a walkway giving off an equally calming scent. Los Cerritos is not only known for its beauty but its innovation when it comes to land and water use and reclamation. The rancho’s restored residence, originally built in 1844, was the largest and most impressive of its kind in Southern California during the Mexican period.
EARL BURNS MILLER JAPANESE GARDEN
Earl Warren Dr., Cal State Long Beach
Though you can visually take in the whole of it as you enter through its wooden doors, this garden is remarkable in creating lots of nooks where people can find the space to consider, to meditate, observe or simply catch their breath. Tall trees form a buffer around the perimeter, and a pond fed by several small waterfalls and housing a community of Koi fish anchors the garden’s center. Typical of Japanese gardens, the Miller brings together air, water and earth in an curated manner that both honors nature while ordering it. Since the garden is sometimes closed to host campus events, as well as weddings and the like, it is strongly suggested you check-in online.
RAINBOW BRIDGE ENGLISH GARDEN
300 E. Ocean Blvd.
You take beauty where you find it, and this urban garden is located in the short walkway that connects the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center’s promenade entrance with the Terrace Theater. Its collection of roses, daisies, geraniums and other blooms inhabit about a football field’s length of the bridge. You could pass it all in a minute, but we’d suggest slowing down to take a look or have a sit down on the smoothed “rocks” that dot the garden. In the evening, when the walkway is lit by myriad colored LED lights, you’ll get an entirely different vibe. One worth checking out.