LOS ANGELES CA – It’s easy to describe the Mathias Botanical Garden, on the southeast side of the UCLA campus in Los Angeles, as restful. It’s another thing entirely to try and call it quiet.
The garden, established in 1929, is in the heart of the city, and sounds of the metropolis invade from every side. Cars honk, brakes squeal, truck exhausts bellow and belch. They are accompanied by the daily murmur of surrounding student life: walkers and runners, friendly conversations, and cell phone monologues.
Mildred E. Mathias, for whom the garden was named in 1979, was a pioneer in ethnopharmacology, the science of discovering new medicines derived from rain forest plants. Not surprisingly, the 7-acre garden is a diverse one, with species of all kinds and from many geographies. On any given day visitors will find volunteers armed with rakes, shovels and other tools, carefully tending the plants and keeping its many paths well groomed.
Something seems to always be blooming in the garden, and that was the case during an early April 2014 visit. But the spring season is primarily a time for new, green growth, and it was in greatest evidence during a trail walk then.
Because the garden is supervised by UCLA’s Botany Department (the botany building is nearby, and houses the garden offices), walking through it is as much an educational as a natural experience.
Each plant and tree variety is labeled for easily identification and study. In some areas students have created experimental growing areas. One section of the garden is devoted to a backyard wildlife habitat, so amateurs can duplicate their own piece of environmental heaven at home. An amphitheater called “The Nest” is used for outdoor programming.
The trails are interspersed with plenty of seating, both free-standing and built into retaining walls. Tables are available for game players, and comfortable chairs and benches for readers. Some of the trails, which follow a stream and lead to a small waterfall, are wheelchair-accessible.
Wildlife is found in the garden too. Coy and turtles inhabit the stream. UCLA online information also indicates squirrels fill the garden’s wooded areas … but don’t feed them, it cautions. “The squirrels are aggressive and they bite,” it warns.
If You Go …
- Its Address: Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden, 777 Tiverton Dr., Los Angeles CA 90095
- Google Map: Here
- Time To Budget: At least an hour.
- Hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Admission: Free
- Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
- Events: Free docent-led tours held on the first Saturday of every month at 1 p.m. No reservations needed. Call 310-825-1260 for information.
- Information Valid As Of: 2014-04-04
Photos by Joe Zlomek for The Post Publications
Note: Post Managing Editor Joe Zlomek is a TripAdvisor.com senior contributor who ranks among the top 1-percent of that travel website’s most-read reviewers of destinations and facilities. Read other articles in this series.