The Japanese Garden: Suiho En

Best Japanese Garden, August 2010

Think of this place as a striptease. “It reveals itself gradually,” says docent Dori Kyle, “so everything is a surprise.” At The Japanese Garden: Suiho En, stones, plants, and water are precisely integrated, offering six-and-a-half acres of refuge. The only intruder on a recent visit was a Canada goose who laid her eggs in marigolds around a fountain. Opened next to the D.C. Tillman Reclamation Plant in Van Nuys in 1984, Suiho En uses treated sewage water. Designer Koichi Kawana, who loved a good pun, called his creation the “Garden of Water and Fragrance” in Japanese. But there’s nary a whiff of eau de toilet. The Japanese Garden at the Huntington is more lavish, of course; Suiho En is more interesting.