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Lilacs, spring's calling card, are in full bloom at Descanso Gardens

Lilac

There's nothing shy about spring in Descanso Gardens, that unexpected Eden tucked into the stony foothills of La Cañada Flintridge. Visit now and every inch of its 150 acres appears to be in bloom. From the small, spare flowers of the strawberry hugging the ground in the edible garden to the showy swaths of azaleas, crab apples and camellias, the place is ablaze with color. 

Oaks and sycamores tower over the paths, a leafy canopy filled with birds. Bees hum. Dragonflies hover. Words like "wreathed" and "enrobed" and "dappled" roll through your brain -- cliches, it's true, yet apt. Visitors move slowly, gaze about, look up, look down, look to one another, amazed.

It's in the lilac garden, though, where 400 bushes seem to glow in the sunlight, that the transformation is complete. Groups disperse. Conversations stop. Words give way to sighs, and just like that, patrons become pilgrims. They wander among the bushes, which bloom in shades of pink and purple and white. They lean in closer and inhale the heady fragrance.

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More important, it's not too late to plant them yourself.

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