Blending beauty and artifice, Japanese gardens manage to be intense and soothing at the same time. The Huntington Library’s nine-acre version rules them all for sheer beauty and scale (the arcing moon bridge was made for the ‘gram), but good luck finding your Zen in those crowds.
You’ll have more solitude at the 6.5-acre Japanese Garden in Van Nuys, which hides out beside the Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant. Cherry, peach, and black pine trees punctuate the well-manicured grounds where you’ll find streams, waterfalls, and ponds (all use water reclaimed from Tillman).
More hidden still, the Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden holes up on a side street in residential Pasadena near Arlington Garden. Created in the 1930s for the property’s original homeowners, the two-acre site stays cool under a mature tree canopy, and there’s a 15-foot waterfall and pond-side teahouse to go with the lush landscaping. But check the website: Hours are limited at this wedding-friendly venue.
Same goes for the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden, a quiet 1.3-acre refuge that is tucked away on the Cal State Long Beach campus and has all the accoutrements (Pond! Teahouse! Gorgeous vegetation!) that a fan of the horticultural genre might expect. The hardest Japanese garden of all to find is, alas, just a ghost: Planted decades ago on the edge the Dodger Stadium parking lot behind right field, the green space is no more, but a stone lantern stands sentinel, obscured from view behind chain-link and up a slope.
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