Sherman Library & Gardens in Corona Del Mar, Calif.


Sometimes what you need is an oasis. A place to breathe. To pause.

A couple of summers ago, I was attending a conference and found myself with an extra half-day in Newport Beach, Calif. My life had been in a state of upheaval, and it was tempting to just sit by the hotel pool. But instead, I decided I would walk the two or three miles to Corona Del Mar State Beach. It seemed a crime to be so near the ocean and not see it. I planned my route and set out, pocketing my phone in case I got lost along the way.

Around halfway there, I walked past an entrance to what looked like a beautiful garden and did a U-turn.

The Sherman Library and Gardens in Corona Del Mar is a 2.2-acre horticultural retreat, with gardens, patios and conservatories linked by brick walkways, and a library that is a research center for the history of the Pacific Southwest.

The garden is home to more than 100 species of palms, 130 varieties of begonias and an artistic succulent garden. There's a tea garden with hanging baskets of seasonal flowers, a rose garden and a tropical conservatory with a koi pond and an extensive collection of orchids and carnivorous plants.

garden with flowersFinding such a place along a meandering walk to the ocean is exactly the reason one is tempted to take such walks in the first place. I paid my admission and went in.

I spent a little more than an hour wandering through the gardens, full of novel and familiar plants. I sat on a sunny bench by a fountain, then strolled some more and found a shady nook to sit and read.

I caught my breath.

And then I wandered back out to find the ocean, refreshed, renewed and ready for more. RM

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