Descanso Gardens – a Refuge from Coronavirus

Descanso Gardens, La Canada, California, 2020

Descanso Gardens reopened May 16, 2020 after being closed since March for coronavirus concerns. It felt like returning home again to a garden retreat that I’ve enjoyed for over 30 years. I’m lucky to live close to this beautiful garden and can stroll often among the camellias and towering ancient heritage oak trees.

I wanted to hear “The Sky Beneath Our Feet,” a symphony for trees inspired by Descanso’s coastal oaks. I wandered through the Camellia Forest as the choral and instrumental pieces filtered all around me through a patchwork of 72 audio speakers.

I was immersed in music as I slowly walked along the path, the crunching of fallen oak leaves under my feet, the beautiful blue sky with fluffy white clouds above. To me, the music had a heavenly quality. Soothing, comforting, welcoming. What a relief to be in nature again and to be surrounded by beautiful music.

Pete Wyer, a British composer, wrote the music, inspired by the coastal oaks that grace Descanso Gardens. Wyer has created scores for the London Symphony Orchestra, Juilliard, BBC Television and the Royal Opera House. The garden was not crowded on the Tuesday that I visited and all visitors wore masks. Clearly delineated walking paths guided you into the gardens and a new exit leads you out of the garden far away from the entrance.

The music begins at 9 am, 11 am, 1 pm, 3 pm and 5 pm and plays for one hour. It will play throughout the summer until the end of August. Information: (818) 949-4200 or


12 thoughts on “Descanso Gardens – a Refuge from Coronavirus

  1. I cannot wait to get back there. Thank you for inspiring me to make that trip again soon.

  2. What a nice escape – nature is so tranquil! And your pen captures the feeling perfectly!

  3. Just heavenly! How I miss Descanso Gardens. Thanks you, Susan, for the slice of paradise.

  4. This is so inspiring! Now I too want to hear the music, stroll under the canopy of trees, and luxuriate in the ambiance of all that is Descanso. Thanks for this post.

  5. I felt the same way when we visited Friday morning. The music was a wonderful surprise. I appreciate your description of the experience.

  6. Dear Susan, Descanso Garden is a beautiful gift. When I lived in La Canada I visited the gardens often.
    So, “thanks for the memories” of which there are many. Andrea

  7. Fantastic…thanks Susan for taking me back to such a magical and calm oasis! Peace be with you dear friend.

  8. Dear Susan,

    I experienced the same feelings of celestial embrace by the music , the bliss from being able to be in the beauty of our beloved garden and the health from breathing the good air. It was a series of pleasure moments, I am repeating often. I led 8 of my women’s group there yesterday, all wearing masks and social distancing. One woman got a membership. What a good investment. I’m glad you can pay it forward with this blog. It’s a healing place.

  9. Descanso Gardens has always been a beautiful, relaxing respite. Thanks for your beautiful description for our current situation evoking wonderful memories from the past.

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