Camellia forest at Descanso Gardens has an untold history rooted in Japanese-American internment

ByJose Mayorquin Localish logo
Friday, March 1, 2024
Blooming camellia forest at Descanso Gardens has an untold history
The blooming camellia forest at Descanso Gardens has a unique story to tell with roots in Japanese-American internment during World War II.

LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE, Calif. -- The camellia forest at Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge, California is not only beautiful, it has an interesting story to tell dating back to World War II.

"We have one of the biggest collections in the United States," said Jennifer Errico, Communications Director at Descanso Gardens. "It's kind of in an unexpected place because we're in Southern California where it's hot and dry."

Whereas, camellias are known to prefer a humid subtropical climate.

"What really makes them so amazing here at Descanso is how old they are," said Autumn Ayers, a horticulturist at Descanso Gardens. "Manchester Boddy, the person who owned this property, he started planting camellias in the late 30s, early 40s. But what really sparked the collection was Japanese incarceration. The Uyematsu family and the Yoshimura family, particularly, had nurseries full of hundreds of thousands of plants. When they were incarcerated, they were forced to sell these collections, and Boddy bought them at a fraction of their value."

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