On some rainy days, the words I’ve failed to say fall from the sky while nostalgia soaks into the damp city streets. Yet in absolute dichotomy, on others I wake up in a whimsical whirlwind, wrapped in wanderlust and yearning for an adventure. With a fantastic evening roaming through downtown Los Angeles for their second annual Night on Broadway (more on that later!) under our belts, Sunday Funday was most definitely on the menu and I was hungry for an escapade in nature.
When the Storrier Stearns Garden announced they’d be adding more days for the public, I just couldn’t help myself a bought us some tickets to check it out and yesterday was finally the day. I went to bed over the moon excited, because truth be told I’d been trying for years, but only being open once a month had severely limited my opportunities. A few years ago, Danny and I adventured to the Arlington Gardens across the street and wistfully wondered what was kept hidden so secret behind the chain link fence and yesterday, we finally had our chance to find out so that morning, when I woke up with blustery weather and grey skies, I vowed to not let it stop the fun.
Created back in 1935 by the esteemed Kinzuchi Fujii, the historic Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden is a beautiful hidden gem tucked away in the heart of Pasadena. Built on the estate of Charles and Ellamae Storrier Stearns, the gardens span two acres and includes several ponds connected by crooked bridges with coy fish peacefully swimming to and fro, a formal teahouse, and numerous places to sit back, relax and enjoy the venue.
After a blustery beginning and some torrential downfall, the sun broke through turbulent layers of high velocity clouds and gave way to a stunning afternoon that was spent in relative solitude. Slowly and gleefully, we roamed around the unique grounds in zenlike observation.
While talking with one of the curators of the grounds, we learned the reasoning behind crooked bridges in Japanese culture. As legend has it, evil spirits can only go in straight lines – so if you’re ever being chased by a spirit, head to one of the fabled zig-zag bridges bridge and they’ll be propelled into the water.
Revered for being the last remaining minor Japanese Garden created for residential purposes in Southern California before World War II, the Storrier Stearns garden is also the last remaining garden crafted by Fujii, who was responsible for a handful of Japanese landscapes across Southern California in the early 20th century. After Ellamae Storrier Stearns passed on in 1949, the entire estate was sold at auction to art and antiquities dealer Gamelia Hadadd Poulsen. Over the next decade, Poulsen sold off most of the estate less the Japanese Garden and by 1975, CalTrans had bought up property surrounding the gardens in hopes of building an extension of the 710 freeway directly through the garden. After visiting yesterday, I’m so grateful they didn’t!
The gardens underwent a stunning restoration first in the 80’s when the garden was passed on within the Haddad family and then again under the hands of Dr.Takeo Uesugi from 2007 to 2013, transforming it into the tranquil piece of paradise that it is today. For the last several years, the garden was only available on a once a month basis – which typically had sold out far ahead of time; trust me on this; I’ve had firsthand experience with not getting tickets. But, just this year the Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden has expanded it’s availability with openings every Thursday from 10 to 4pm, as well as the last Sunday of the month like old times. Tickets are available on PayPal through their website for $7.50 a piece, and can be purchased for $10 at the door if you’re feeling lucky.
For more on the gardens, take a peak on social media –
Location270 Arlington Drive
Pasadena, California 91105