Plants, Stone, California Landscapes


The Huntington Japanese Garden

On my trip I also spent a few days in Los Angeles visiting a friend and went with him to the Huntington. Strikingly different succulent plantings compared to the Desert Museum and the natural areas around Tucson. It felt like the desert on steroids. Really cool, but in sort of an over-the-top body-builder way. I liked it, but was sort of overwhelmed and didn’t take many photos.

Instead I made my friend slow down and wait for me in the Japanese garden. Really nice stone detailing. I realized I’ve had a blog named DryStoneGarden for over four years without ever showing a photo of a literal ‘dry stone garden’ which is another one of the names for a zen garden. That wasn’t the reason I chose the name and no one has ever mentioned it, so perhaps I’m the only one who thinks of that alternate meaning. We used to sometimes have clients who wanted Japanese detailing and we incorporated elements of the dry stone garden in a couple of designs, so maybe I’ll go back and get photos of one of them some day. I would have liked to spend longer there at the Huntington zen garden, but I had to keep up with my friend.

The rock weighting the branch above the cluster of stones is a great detail.

The garden was displaying several suiseki, also known as scholar rocks or viewing stones. I’ve really liked these on the few occasions I’ve seen them, and I wish I knew more about the whole tradition. The vein of white quartz on this one is meant to resemble a waterfall. There’s a post about the Huntington’s Suiseki collector Bob Watson at Capital Bonsai. Beautiful stones.

There was also a number of bonsai. I’m not a big bonsai aficionado, but the Huntington has some great ones.

I wish I knew more about the genres of bonsai that involve rocks.

And the last photos I took, the entry paving to the teahouse and the river stones beneath the drip line of the roof. I went through the other areas of the garden even more quickly than I had gone through the succulent garden. I realize Southern California gardeners must know the Huntington quite well, but it was new to me. Quite an impressive garden. I really was overwhelmed with the size of it, and the scale of some of the specimens and mass plantings, and all of the care and effort and resources put into the garden. Quite a place.

7 Responses to “The Huntington Japanese Garden”

  1. February 26th, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    Greg says:

    Japanese gardens are outstanding. Hard to duplicate for sure. My favorite elements are the textural contrasts.

  2. February 26th, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    Gayle says:

    That’s funny about never showing a picture representing the name of your blog. I had assumed the name referred to a dry-stacked stone wall, especially since there’s one in your header picture now.

  3. February 26th, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    ryan says:

    Greg, you’re totally right. the contrasts are great, whether the ones between stone and plants or even between kinds of stone.

    Gayle, you’re right, I think of it as a reference to a garden with dry stacked stone in it, but I’ve always been aware that there’s another potential meaning of the phrase as well.

  4. February 27th, 2013 at 5:45 am

    Scott Weber says:

    I’m always amazed by the serenity that Japanese gardens project…I think it’s the pared-down palette of plants, the attention to detail and the feeling that everything is in order. Of course, that’s the exact opposite of my own garden…hahahahahahaha!

  5. February 28th, 2013 at 10:06 am

    ryan says:

    Scott, exactly, that level of restraint hasn’t found its way into my garden either.

  6. March 2nd, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    Hoov says:

    Nice look at the Huntington from a fresh perspective. We go there a lot. They were rehabbing the Japanese garden for several months last year–it must look good now.

  7. March 18th, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    James says:

    I see what you mean about the desert garden–It’s almost super-dense like a cottage garden, only it’s made out of cactus and succulents. Even with the new Chinese garden opned up the two gardens that you show are still the two big pulls for me at the Huntington. All the details in the Japanese garden are nicely thought out. Even the backdrops for the bonsai display: almost every plant gets its own cool little bit of stagecraft. Nice place, nice photos.

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