I have always been equal parts city girl and country girl. As much as I love having access to amazing restaurants, a constant flow of art, and a variety of cultures, I absolutely need my regular doses of nature. I have been known to spend my weekends wandering around the trails that our local mountain ranges offer, but when I don’t have several hours to spare, UCLA’s Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Gardens is my favorite quick fix.
This little oasis is tucked inconspicuously into the southeast corner of campus and as soon as I walk through any of the three entrances, I am instantaneously transported into another world that feels completely removed from the city. “The Garden”, which was built in 1929 around a stream and is broken into sections by plant families, serves as an educational resource for the university and is an incredible reserve of biodiversity.
This past Sunday morning, I planned to start my day out with a little stroll through the garden, but as always, I got completely spellbound by the many varieties of plants and animals and ended up spending over an hour studying ferns, bromeliads, lilies, and rhododendrons. A playful pair of monarch butterflies had me completely captivated as they danced and swooped around me, taking short breaks to drink from the flowers in the section of the garden that was cultivated specifically for them. I couldn’t help but envy the turtles that spend their days taking sunbaths on smooth stones and soaking in the stream at the center of this lush little sanctuary.
I would have completely lost track of time had it not been for the bells of a nearby church that chime out the hour. When I heard the tenth bell toll, I knew it was time for me to get on with the rest of my day and wistfully wandered out of the garden, knowing that I would be back very soon.