The natural beauty of the gardens, combined with the scholarly integrity of the library, make for a perfect, well-rounded experience for visitors to Corona del Mar, California. Have a nice lunch, wander through the multiple, curated gardens, and explore the history of the area with a collection of historical artifacts, needless to say, it is easy to spend all day there.
Formed in 1955 by Arnold Haskell (who named the property after his mentor, as he was notoriously uncomfortable with publicity and attention), this 2-acre botanical retreat in sunny California has been lovingly curated and painstaking maintained by the over 150 volunteers working as groundskeepers in the garden and the nearly 60 volunteers working as docents at the museum. The majority of the buildings on the campus were in place by the early 1970s and stand as tribute to the forethought of Haskell, who died in 1977.
Sherman Library - The beautiful and historic Sherman library operates as a research library, one that focuses on and specializes in Pacific Southwestern history (Southern California, Northern Mexico, Arizona, and other adjoining areas). With collections that document the region’s development using books (over 15,000 of them!), maps, photographs (both of the area and aerial), newspapers, and other archival collections, the library strives to be a comprehensive facility that allows the public to visit and see the history for themselves. However, this library also is non-circulating, which means visitors must leave the materials in the library. The library also houses a collection of impressionist art by California artists like Anita Hills, Edgar Payne, and William Wendt.
If there are any specific collection works that visitors would like to see, it is recommended (but not required) for them to make an appointment prior to arrival. Be prepared to present a government issued ID and to check all bags prior to entering. Highlighters and pens are also not allowed in the library. Certain photographs may also require visitors to wear white gloves while working with them, which will be provided by the staff.
Sherman Gardens - The gardens, besides being stunningly beautiful, also operate like a living plant museum. The Tropical Conservatory, housed indoors to make sure to have a stable environment for the tropical plants inside, feature a wide and unique variety of plants like Orchids and Heliconias as well as several large Koi fish. There is a Cactus and Succulents Garden, surrounding a California Pepper Tree. The Rose Garden is another favorite, with many varieties of the well-known flower. There is also the Japanese Garden, with a stunning Bo tree (sacred to both Buddhists and Hindus) and the Herb Garden, with many well-known and also more rare herbs like different varieties of garlic many guests may never have heard of (like Chocolate Garlic and Society Garlic).
The best part of the garden is that the majority of plants, besides being separated by type, are also labeled with their names (both family names and generic names) and place of origin so that guests can fully appreciate the diversity of the gardens as a whole.
The most well-known special event at the library and gardens is the annual private garden tour, which just hit its 20th year! Walk through a rotating selection of private gardens in the Newport Beach local area, mingle with artists and musicians, and enjoy a light lunch on the premises after the tour. Proceeds go to charity.
The website also maintains an up to date calendar featuring all of the upcoming special class and events. A few of the featured classes are painting classes with various artists and floral design classes, most of which come with an additional fee. For events, the holidays in particular bring a beautiful seasonal flair to the garden, with holiday lights and evening strolls. There are also opportunities to take an afternoon tea on garden premises, complete with scones, sandwiches, and desserts.
Keep an eye out for certain special members only events as well, as they are offered fairly regularly to library and garden members.
Shopping and Dining
The Garden Shop is a quaint shop located in an adobe building at the entrance to the garden premises. With a unique selection of gifts, like kitchenware's, gardening supplies, children’s toys, and recipe as well as gardening books, a stop at the shop before leaving is sure to please. For visitors who get hungry during their visit, stop in at Cafe Jardin for a full brunch and lunch menu with local ingredients and a French flair.
Sherman Library and Gardens, 2647 East Coast Highway, Corona del Mar, CA, 92625, Phone: 949-673-2261