For the week of my birthday back in the end of July, I took a trip to the Los Angeles area to spend time with family, recharge, and basically get a taste of new scenery. For the majority of my twenty-eight prior years, I have always spent my birthday at home in Brooklyn, and felt this was a good time to hit up the West Coast. It was one of the few times in life where my trip was completely unplanned. I did plan in accordance with one of my aunts so we could be each other’s company for the week, but otherwise, I told myself “I just want to relax and not over-plan this time away”.
Cactus species and sculpture
As I was staying in Diamond Bar with my aunt and uncle, I did not really get a taste for the creative L.A. lifestyle, but I was exposed to something better; nature. My uncle, being pretty in tune with my love of photography and nature, offered to take the family The Arboretum during the week. Located in Arcadia approximately thirty minutes from where I was staying, the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden is a gem for nature lovers and those that just need a time out. The Arboretum is a 127-acre botanical garden and historical site jointly operated by the Los Angeles Arboretum Foundation and the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation.
Picture in picture at Queen Anne Cottage
With camera in hand like the tourist I was, I walked slowly and snapped photos of the luscious flora and fauna before my eyes. The grounds are divided up by native region with free roaming wildlife; for example there are sections that feature collections of plants from Africa and Australia, as well as themed sections like the “Prehistoric Forest” and “Historic Circle”. Every plant on the grounds was clearly marked with a description tag for those that wanted a little more back story.
Color variations in an aloe species
As someone who is incredibly passionate about color, I was truly amazed by the color variations of some of the plants and flowers I saw during my walk. The greenest of green leaves, the most potent orange flower petals, and things I had never seen before, like a Eucalyptus tree that had a multi-color bark. I snapped away, adjusting my settings numerous times during my trip as the sun was beaming that day. It made me realize how therapeutic a walk outside can be, and how beautiful nature untouched is.
View from the cafe
We took a break to eat at the Peacock Cafe, and took seats at a table under a shady tree on the deck. I had a surprisingly tasty cheese burger & fries with an apple juice because, #stayhungry. When we looked up and around, we were surrounded by peacocks. I made it my job to collect as many feathers that fell off the birds as they moved around, and snapped photos quick and quietly, as to not disturb them.
Someone is posing for the camera
I was waiting for one of the birds to spread their feathers for a photo opp, and was extremely lucky to capture the photo above upon walking to the exit. Such a serendipitous ending to a lovely afternoon.
If you are ever in the L.A. county area and want to take a break from the hustle and bustle, definitely take a trip to The Arboretum. Admission is $9 for adults, $6 for Seniors & Students, $4 for Children, and Free for children 4 and under. For more information, please visit their website. You won’t regret it!
*All photos by Andrea K. Castillo