Four generations at the Huntington

The Japanese garden at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens has always been a peaceful place, and its recent renovation hasn’t changed that. I highlighted the garden in my book, Peaceful Places: Los Angeles, as the spot to seek out when the desert garden or galleries get a bit too thick with admirers.

I wondered if the $6.8-million expansion would affect the garden’s gentle tranquility, but instead it has only enhanced it by adding more space. A ceremonial teahouse surrounded by a traditional garden now sits above the winding paths and original Japanese House, and there are more waterfalls and bonsai trees dotting the landscape. The raked-gravel rock and sand garden and viewing stones (stones found in nature and untouched by man) still provide quiet retreats off the busier Central Garden.

On a recent visit with my parents, kids, and 85-year-old neighbor, we all somehow managed to find our niches without anyone having to compromise. My dad reveled in the Visions of Empire railroad exhibit, Theo loved the bamboo forest, and my mom and neighbor marveled at the camellia forest and Australian Kangaroo paws. Jack divided his glee between the children’s garden and the Conservatory’s cloud forest.

And I stole a few moments of contemplation on a bench in front of the rock and sand garden, as lovely as ever.

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