• Jill

The Japanese Garden in the Valley


It was a lovely stroll through the Japanese Garden today. I hope that you enjoy the view as well. I was quite surprised at how beautiful, and well cared for it was. The Suiho-en Garden is ranked #10 out of 300 public Japanese Gardens, and I think it deserves that accolade.


Recently when we visited the Luther Burbank Gardens in Santa Rosa, it was clear that Covid had precluded gardeners, volunteer or otherwise, from tending the many beautiful plantings and garden beds in Burbank's backyard.


But this was not the case at the Japanese Garden, there were multiple gardeners working, and there was evidence of new plantings, weeding in progress, and careful cleaning of pathways, and rockways. A very tidy garden, my favorite kind. And the tea house was delightful. I could picture myself having a spot of tea on a spring afternoon, gazing out at the wild irises, and the migratory bids that stop by.


The Wildlife Reserve which abuts the Japanese Garden and is also in the Sepulveda Basin is land that the City of Los Angeles has set aside for the protection of native animals and plants. Just outside of the gardens there is a 225 acre refuge which includes a Wildlife Lake, large open areas, a small pond and a flowing creek. More than two hundred species of birds have been seen at the Wildlife Reserve. Our youngest daughter, who is a recent birder, happily visits the Basin in search of migrating birds. I think that some of them have also taken up residence at the Japanese Gardens!


The name of the garden is "The Garden of Water and Fragrance" which is a bit ironic. I am sure that those who named the garden did not want the "fragrance" associated with the garden to be the faint smell of a sewage plant. But that's unfortunately the case. Yet, it should not be the primary takeaway from this lovely place.


Donald Tillman's idea was to showcase how reclaimed water could support a delicate ecosystem like that of a Japanese Garden. I think he was wildly successful. The garden does everything that Mr. Tillman wished for - it supports wildlife, fish (so many!) and a variety of flora appropriate for a Japanese Garden, with many specimens native to the Southern California landscape.


A perfect outdoor adventure to help us shed the blues from our Covid quarantine.

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