© The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands
Sunnylands center & gardens
Sunnylands Center & Gardens can be seen as one of the final gifts that the late philanthropists Walter and Leonore Annenberg gave to the public.
Opened in 2012, years after the couple died, the nine-acre desert garden sits in the northwest corner of California’s Sonora Desert, just 190 kilometers east of Los Angeles, near Palm Springs, and surrounds a 17,000-square-foot visitor center.
This is the public access point for people curious about the history of Sunnylands, the modernist winter estate where the Annenbergs regularly hosted U.S. presidents, celebrities, and foreign dignitaries throughout the latter half of the 20th century. The estate, now managed by a trust, lives on as a high-level retreat center charged with addressing serious issues facing the nation and the world.
Sunnylands gardens, however, are pointedly quite different from the estate’s parklike landscape, which includes eleven lakes and a private, nine-hole golf course. The gardens are composed of more than 70 native and arid-adapted plants from North and South America, Africa, and the Mediterranean. Designed by OJB Landscape Architecture, with horticultural consultant Mary Irish, they demonstrate the sustainability a lush, multi-colored garden in a desert environment. Here, mesquite, palo verde, and palo brea trees offer shaded avenues of tranquility along the gardens’ walking trails and reflecting pools. A grassy circle is traditionally a communal gathering spot for activities such as yoga and tai chi, or games for children.
“By creating the gardens, the Trust has provided a contemporary commentary on the historic landscape,” said Janice Lyle, director of Sunnylands Center & Gardens. “It’s a dialogue between the 21st and 20th centuries about the ways in which natural resources are used and beauty is defined.”
Sunnylands Center & Gardens is located at 37977 Bob Hope Drive in Rancho Mirage, California. It is open to the public free of charge, Wednesday through Sunday, from mid-September to early June.
Sunnylands Center & Gardens
37977 Bob Hope Dr, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270, Stati Uniti
Open Wednesday–Sunday, 8:30 am to 4:00 pm. Free admission.