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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Visit Orcutt Ranch Park - L.A. Hidden Gardens #1

Orcutt Ranch Park
Los Angeles is filled with Hidden Gardens; gardens free to the public offering quiet escapes and natural treasures.

Orcutt Ranch Park has been one of my favorite Hidden Gardens since I was a child, it is rich with romantic rose gardens, iconic citrus groves, and ancient oak trees.  


The park is a 24-acre remnant of a 210-acre cattle ranch established by William Warren Orcutt and his wife. Rancho Sombra del Roble or “ranch in the shade of the oak” was nestled along a stream in the northwest corner of the San Fernando Valley. In wet years the stream still flows. This prime location was probably inhabited by native peoples prior to the mission era. Legend has it that the adobe to build the bricks for the San Fernando Mission came from just up the canyon west of the ranch.

Orcutt was a wealthy oil executive in the early boom days of California oil drilling. He and his wife retired to their ranch and lived out the rest of their lives here. In doing so, they protected a slice of California history, including a majestic oak glen. The Orcutt home, now used for events, is modest and classically southwestern. The park was registered as a Historical-Cultural Monument in 1965. 

 Look For:
  • Adobe ranch house built in 1926
  • Ancient oak trees, including the Bicentennial Oak; a coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia) believed to be over 700 years old. (Massive branches were cut off of this tree to stoke the kilns that created the limestone ash for use in making the bricks and mortar for Mission San Fernando.)
  • Rose garden & citrus orchards
  • Variety of birds and butterflies (Including California towhee, Bewick's wren, and red-shouldered hawk; mourning cloaks and swallowtails)

Special Opportunities: Public fruit harvesting (oranges and grapefruit) on specific dates in Feb. and June.

The Specifics:

  • Open - Daily, Sunrise to Sunset; Free to the public
  • Parking - Plenty
  • Restrooms - Yes
  • Kid Friendly - Absolutely, a wonderful place to explore
  • Accessibility - Many pathways are wheelchair friendly, but unpaved
  • Dogs - Welcome on a leash, watch for coyotes and rattlesnakes
  • Restrictions - Expect some closure of the house area and rose garden on weekends due to the large number of weddings performed here. The house is typically not open to the public.

For More Information:

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