SCSH Desert Gardeners Visits Sunnylands

by Amy Tomlinson, SCSH Desert Gardeners Club President

The SCSH Desert Gardeners Club is all about having fun while learning to be better desert gardeners. We bring in speakers, tour nurseries, sponsor an annual Garden tour here in Shadow Hills and go on field trips. Our most recent field trip was to the public gardens at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage. Sunnylands is the private estate once owned by Walter and Leonore Annenberg. The Annenbergs were extraordinary philanthropists, designating more than $3 billion in grants and gifts to major research universities, hospitals, medical centers, cultural and civic organizations. The estate is now managed by the Annenberg Foundation Trust. Although its main function is to host retreats for leaders and experts from around the globe, it has also developed a beautiful public facility that can be visited by one and all. While the Sunnylands Historic Estate can only be visited by acquiring a much-coveted ticket, a visit to the Sunnylands Center and Garden is free.

Every Thursday at 11:00 AM (November-April), a Sunnylands guide takes anyone who shows up on a one-hour tour of the garden, designed by James Burnett. The garden is nine acres in total, with over 70 species of plants from North and South America. The Desert Gardeners Club has done this tour twice this year, and each time we learned something a little bit different. For instance, did you know that the only food that Monarch butterfly larvae can eat is milkweed? And did you know that Sunnylands has the largest number of milkweed plants in our area?

The garden features many varieties of cactus and trees, has a beautiful water feature, walking paths and a great lawn. The Visitors Center usually has an art or antiquities exhibit, and visitors can also watch a short film about the history of the estate, the Annenbergs and the many famous visitors they hosted over the years. There is also a gift shop and café with outdoor seating. For complete details on the estate, tours, tickets and events, go to

A visit to Sunnylands is just one of the many educational and entertaining activities sponsored by the Desert Gardeners Club. For the most up-to-date info on our schedule, go to We meet from November to April. If you would like to be added to our mailing list, please email Come grow with us!