The Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden in Pasadena, California, was created by landscape designer Kinzuchi Fujii (1875-1957), who commenced the project in 1935 and was forced to abandon the endeavor in 1942 due to World War II internment.

The garden was named after its first patrons, Charles and Ellamae Storrier Stearns, who relocated to Pasadena in 1931 after their marriage the same year. In 1950 gallery owner Gamelia Haddad Poulsen acquired the estate consisting of over seven city lots!

During my recent visit, I examined the garden’s low-crawling plants and was pleasantly surprised to find a few pine trees creeping near the pond and trails. Prominently featured in art and literature, pine — along with bamboo and plum — are known as Winter’s Three Friends in East Asia. Most landscapers install and nurture majestic pines in upright position. The pine trees at the Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden were sculpted, possibly by bonsai artists, to showcase the pines’ versatile visage.

Today the park, a neighborhood gem, is smaller and less grandiose than its yesteryear’s existence, yet it possesses all the essential elements of a notable garden: A pond with koi, a tea house where tea ceremony is regularly held, and aura of equanimity. In 2005, the Garden became a California Historical Landmark and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Images provided by author.