Sherman Library, Gardens & Café Jardin


Multiple Gardens, Gift Shop, French Meets Coastal Cuisine, and a Historical Research Library

By Linda Kissam ‘Food, Wine & Shopping Diva

Big Blend Radio show focusing on Sherman Library & Gardens, and Cafe Jardin, an historic, horticultural and culinary retreat hidden away on 2.2 acres in Corona del Mar in Southern California.

Although Southern California is known for its laid back lifestyle, the real story is that SoCal has 101 different things to do every day of the week, and traffic patterns rule which can make life a hot mess of “hectic.”  

Love the weather, love the beaches and mountains, but don’t let anyone tell you that life is all a bowl of juicy oranges here.  

Whether you are a California native like me, or just in town for a few days, there comes a time when you need a timeout to renew and unwind. I have just the place for you! There is a haven of peace and tranquility close to all, the Sherman Library, Gardens & Café Jardin. Just past Huntington Beach, but before you enter Newport Beach, the gardens are hidden away on 2.2 acres in Corona del Mar with the entrance off Pacific Coast Highway.

It’s very odd actually. This horticultural retreat can easily be missed. You’ll miss it if you’re just driving by, it’s one of those “insider gems” that you have to know about to visit. Take the time to stop and explore this lovely place. Truth be told, I have driven by it a bazillion times and never had a clue that the modest storefront on Pacific Coast Highway would open up to multiple gardens providing a gallery of living plants and sculptures, displayed among a setting of immaculate gardens, patios and conservatories linked together by wide brick walkways, beds blooming with seasonal flowers, bubbling tile fountains and a research library devoted to the study of the Pacific Southwest. It’s going to take your breath away, I promise.

The Botanical Collections of the Gardens
The garden collections span the globe ranging from plant life of the desert regions to exotic vegetation of tropical climates. It’s a relaxing place to observe and study firsthand the plant life from various parts of the world.

1. The Cactus and Succulent Garden surrounds a large California pepper tree.

2. The Tropical Conservatory features orchids, heliconias and gingers in full bloom. The giant koi are quite a sight.

3. The Rose Garden (my favorite) features an array of colorful and scented blooming roses.

4. The Fern Grotto exhibit showcases several forty-year-old hanging staghorn ferns.

5. A bo tree, considered sacred by Hindus and Buddhists, resides in the Japanese Garden.

6. The Herb Garden vaunts a variety of herbs, including chocolate and orange-mint, tri-color and society garlic.

Although the plant collections are broad in scope, the design of the gardens enables visitors to enjoy it in a reasonably short time. Many plants are labeled as to their place of origin and their generic family and common names.

  • Basket Making Classes and Volunteers at the Gardens
    Basket Making Classes and Volunteers at the Gardens

The Library
The world-renowned research library is set off to the side. The Library’s collections document the development of the region through books, archival collections, photographs, maps, aerial photographs and newspapers.  Sherman Library is also home to a collection of California impressionist art, including works by William Wendt, Edgar Payne, Clarence Hinkle and Anita Hills.

The library holds an impressive 15,000 volumes, including a large collection of city directories for California cities.  Guests can peruse papers from Moses H. Sherman, the Colorado River Land Company records, the Tejon Ranch records, and the Dana and Ginger Lamb Papers.

Are you a railroad buff? The Library also holds the papers of the Southern Pacific Historical and Technical Society, relating to the Southern Pacific Railroad. Photograph collections include the Wilbur Sawyer Photograph Collection, the C. B. Waite Collection, and the Neal Beckner Collection and Newport Beach Historical Society collection. 

The Library is open to the public, however, it is a non-circulating library so materials must be used on site.  Individuals wishing to use manuscript, maps or photograph collections must register and are strongly encouraged to make an appointment before visiting.  

There is a parking lot at the rear of Sherman Gardens. Please note that a $5 per person entrance fee is required to Sherman Gardens whether you are visiting the gardens or the restaurant.

Café Jardin
One of the finest attractions in the Sherman Gardens is Café Jardin. Yup, right smack in the middle of all the flowers, winding brick walkways and fountains sets this magnificent eatery.  The cuisine at Café Jardin can be called French meets Coastal Cuisine. What could be better than dazzlingly fresh California produce matched with a French pedigree all orchestrated perfectly by Chef Pascal?

Chef Pascal Olhats is an extraordinary French-born and trained Executive Chef and restaurateur. He has won numerous awards, owning and collaborating on a number of restaurants in Newport Beach over the past 27 years.

Born in Normandy, France and like many chefs in Europe, his culinary apprenticeships in some of the best kitchens in France helped him develop his own unique style now enjoyed by thousands. Once you have dined at a Pascal restaurant, you have experienced some of the best the California cuuisne scene has to offer.

In addition to managing day-to-day operations of his four businesses, Pascal consults for other restaurant groups and travels the world with groups to explore countries, culture and cuisine. He is well-known for sharing his time, talent and treasure with the up and coming culinary stars of Orange County, CA.  Chef also annually hosts,  “The Gray Event, ” an evening of food, wine and entertainment to raise funds and shine a light on preventing the abuse of Asian elephants.

Make a reservation or drop in. Order a glass of wine and enjoy dining outdoors (or moving indoors in case of inclement weather – a rarity in Orange County.) The restaurant offers a lite French and Mediterranean seasonal menu. Soft breezes and spectacular foliage re-energize the senses.  Afternoon tea and Sunday brunch are also offered. Check the website for additional info. If you are celebrating a special event, the Great Room (inside) features glass door walls, a mosaic fireplace, exposed beams, and Spanish tiled floors.

Please note that a $5 per person entrance fee is required to enter Sherman Gardens and enjoy the restaurant.

Sherman Library & Gardens and Café Jardin
Corona del Mar Village
2647 East Pacific Coast Highway
Corona del Mar, CA 92625
(949) 673-2261

Linda Kissam ‘Food, Wine & Shopping Diva’ is a professional travel, food, and wine writer based out of Southern California, who specializes in easy, breezy destination stories sharing her favorite things about the places she visits. Visit


One Hour Walk

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About the Author:

Linda Kissam ‘Food, Wine & Shopping Diva’ is a professional travel, food, and wine writer based out of Southern California, who specializes in easy, breezy destination stories sharing her favorite things about the places she visits.

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