Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Japanese Garden

Sunday, August 19, 2012
My Cost: $3

6100 Woodley Ave
Van Nuys, CA 91406

Today I took my kids to a beautiful little gem in the Sepulveda Dam Basin: The Japanese Garden! I used to live a short bike ride away from this place, and it's one of the very nicest of all the nice places in the Sepulveda Dam Basin (such as Lake Balboa, the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve, the Sepulveda Model Airport, the Archery Range, the Leo Magnus Cricket Complex, etc. etc. etc.)  We tried to visit a few days ago, but it was closed for maintenance. I'm not sure exactly what maintenance they did, but it did look quite perfectly manicured and serene today.

I have visited the Garden several times in the past, but I realized that my last visit was in October of 2010 for the Origami Festival. My, how time flies! That was nearly two years ago, and neither of my children had been born yet! But I was about six months pregnant with Vivi, so in my mind I thought I remembered her being here before. (She didn't enjoy as much of the scenery from inside the womb, I'm sure, lol!)

When you visit the Japanese Garden, someone in the vehicle should be prepared to show their photo I.D. to a guard at the gate. This, I assume, is a safety precaution due to the Garden's location adjacent to the Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant. That is the only hard part, however. Admission is only $3 for adults, $2 for seniors and children under 10, (although I wasn't charged any admission for my 5-month-old or my 18-month-old.) Self guided tours are available Sunday through Thursday.

Pay your admission fee inside the Gift Shop.
Here is an old aerial view (just look at those old cars!) printed in a pamphlet that I picked up today about the Plant. It shows just how adjacent we are really talking! The windy paths around all the water is the Japanese Garden part, if you couldn't tell.

One of my favorite things about this place is how neat and manicured everything is. There are so many different textures and contrasts as you look around, but everything is separate and nothing encroaches on anything else. Because I'm a mom it reminded me of nicely organized toy storage where all the toys are assembled and placed neatly side by side instead of a jumbled toy box where all the toys and their parts are mixed up in a pile. You could take the same plants and the same amount of space and not get anything half as beautiful without all the planning and maintaining the separate elements.

Here are some different textures. Vivi enjoyed feeling the plants and examining the surfaces (including scuffing her feet through the dirt of the path.)

A pebble garden.
A wavy mane of hairy grass.
Scuffling in the dirt on a hot day
Ground cover.
These ground cover plants felt very firm, yet soft!
You're not supposed to leave the path, but I let her touch
some bamboo for a minute, just to encourage her curiosity.
Soft mounds of mossy ground cover.
Symmetrical steps along a path.
A millstone path leading to dark grey river stones.
And here are some other pictures of things I just found beautiful. Unfortunately, despite the large numbers of fish in the various watery areas of the Garden, I didn't get any pictures of them.

The Administration Building.
Water's Edge.
Lilly Pads.
Weeping Willow.
Ducks under the tree.
A waterfall!


EVENING TOURS: Now through August 30th they are offering evening tours that start at 6:30 by appointment only. That sounds like a nice way to enjoy the Garden but avoid the hottest part of the day.

IKEBANA EXHIBITION: Sunday, September 9, 2012 is the Ikebana Exhibition showcasing the Japanese Art of Flower Arranging. This is a joint venture between the Garden and the Sogetsu San Fernando Valley Branch. There will be demonstrations at 11:00 am and 1:00 pm by the Branch director, Kyoko Kassarjian Sensei, and members of the Branch. Arrangements will be on display throughout the garden. Admission will cost a little more for adults ($5), but kids under 10 are free! They are warning people that if maximum capacity for the Garden is reached (200 people) they will suspend admission until it clears out.

ORIGAMI FESTIVAL: Sunday, October 14, 2012 is the Origami Festival. They are posting the hours for this day as 10:15 to 3:15, and the same capacity warning as the Ikebana Exhibition applies. It is a fun event where they set up stations around the Garden to demonstrate different techniques of origami in a range of difficulty levels. I can tell you from our experience two years ago that you are better off coming right at the beginning. We, and a lot of other people, tried to get through everything towards the end of the day, and we couldn't squeeze in at the tables that were still offering demonstrations, and other tables were closed. So we missed out on a lot of paper folding, but at least we got lemonade and cookies at the tea house! (For a fee.)

Here is a picture from that 2010 Festival:


  1. You go to so many cool places! Almost makes me want to move to LA and check them out :)

  2. Umm, I wouldn't recommend moving here. It's expensive! But it is nice to know that there is more to the city than Disneyland, which is not even in Los Angeles, it's in Anaheim!

  3. what is the name of grass in picture number 5 from top