Hidden Gem: Gardens of the World-Thousand Oaks, CA



By Abby Berman Mazenod


If you are a resident of Ventura County, you most likely know about the “Gardens of the World” in Thousand Oaks. If you’re from literally anywhere else, you have probably never experienced this incredible gem. This beautiful piece of horticulture is brought to everyone, for free, by the Hogan Family Foundation . It was built as a way to recognize the cultures of the world, while giving back to the community, and it is totally freaking beautiful.

…Did I mention it’s free?!


Japanese Garden: This is my favorite part of the garden. (I literally wanted to have my wedding here… they don’t allow weddings.) It is so peaceful and hypnotizing. Surrounding the Japanese pagoda there is a koi pond that will put you in a trance. Seriously, this could be the most peaceful place that I know of. This perfectly zen garden is worth the trip. Bring a book, and give yourself the afternoon to be free.


English Perennial & Rose Garden: Who does’t love roses? This rose garden is gorgeous, while smelling absolutely delicious. It’s a space of perfectly happy oasis. This garden is the  epitome of bliss in an actual physical place.


Mission Courtyard: This is a thoughtful tribute to California history that should be much appreciated by any California resident. This pequeña mission is an acknowledgement to all California missions. It visually illustrates the beauty of all of the California missions on it’s inside walls, literally. You will see a painting of each California mission beautifully painted on the inside facade of the courtyard.



French Garden: This is actually the entrance to the gardens. It is definitely a “wow” experience. This grand presentation is worth spending the time to enjoy.



Italian Garden: Feel the class and culture of Italy in this tiny garden. Sit on a bench under a Roman column, and think about how wonderful Italy is. It’s a tiny compliment to the beautiful country.


IMG_0061Bandstand: An applause to America and it’s heritage, this bandstand represents every city in this great country. The idea that every small town needs a beautiful town center for political and entertainment purposes gives this traditional gazebo strong significance in the modern world. It brings a sentimental strength of pride and nostalgia.

This beautiful space is worth spending an afternoon to appreciate. I hope you get a chance to check it out!

The gardens are located at 2001 Thousand Oaks Boulevard Thousand Oaks, CA 91362, and open Tuesday through Sunday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Happy travels and explorations!


Hidden Gem: The Japanese Garden-Van Nuys, CA



By Abby Berman Mazenod

~Deep in the heart of the San Fernando Valley is a hidden gem.

Most people who live in “The Valley” don’t even know that this beautiful oasis exists right in their backyard. I came across the Japanese Garden last year when I was looking for wedding venues.  I’ll be honest, it would have been perfect… if it didn’t have the Tillman Water Reclamation Center right next door to it. (On a windy day, I’m told it can get kind of smelly.) This beautiful peaceful garden really is a place of serenity though. On my last visit I saw people meditating, reading, writing etc. The garden is full of so much tranquility, that it’s surprising that it could be located right in the middle of the chaotic Valley. And the coolest part… this 6 1/2 acre garden is watered exclusively with reclaimed water from the Los Angeles area! For us Californians, constantly feeling guilty about taking an extra long shower in the morning, the idea of a lush green garden seems too decadent for our dry bones. But guilt is unnecessary when strolling around this awesome place. They are literally watering these plants with the water that you and I have already used! Super cool!

It is located 6100 Woodley Ave, Van Nuys, CA 91406.

They are open until 4:00 PM, Sunday through Thursday.

To get in it is $5 for adults and $3 for seniors and children.


The Tillman Water Reclamation Plant is also part of this property. It feeds water to the Japanese Garden, Lake Balboa, and other parts of the valley including underground reservoirs. You can actually take a tour of the plant… it’s really cool, really smelly, and they explain to you how the water treatment center works. There is also a detailed explanation of the process on their website.



Hope you choose to visit sometime!