The Japanese Garden

Facts and Figures





The Japanese Garden

Facts and Figures

When Mr. Huntington asked William Hertrich, his garden superintendent, to look for plants to develop a Japanese garden, Hertrich approached George Marsh, an art collector and importer of Asian art objects. Mr. Marsh had opened a tea garden in Pasadena around 1904, which was not successful commercially. He offered to sell the contents of his establishment: plants, garden ornaments, and Japanese house. In 1912, seventy men worked daily for 5 months to move the house, plants, and garden ornaments to the Huntington and establish the garden. Later, a Japanese craftsman built the moon bridge and gong tower. In 1968, the Zen court and Bonsai court were opened to the public.


The Japanese traditionally revere nature and their gardens are a quiet retreat from the pressures of life rather than a showplace. They are designed to be revealed gradually from a multitude of viewpoints as one strolls through them. The 3 main elements of a Japanese garden are water, rocks, and plants. All gardens have each of these or the symbol or illusion of each such as a water basin instead of a pond or a dry gravel streambed.


Central Garden – is a private stroll garden.

House – is an upper middle class home from the 1800’s built in the Shoin style. With unpainted surfaces and natural materials, one can appreciate the beauty of nature.

Karesansui – also known as a rock and sand garden or dry landscape. This is a very symbolic garden where the viewer quietly uses his or her imagination to interpret the scene. It is usually viewed from the veranda of a Buddhist temple compound.

Bonsai – potted trees intentionally dwarfed by pruning and cultural practices. They are to look like miniature versions of old, weathered trees found in nature.

Suiseki – also known as viewing stones. They are stones found in nature that are beautiful to look at and may suggest something such as a distant mountain, animal, or human figure. They are not carved or changed by man.

Prunus species – Japanese flowering plum (apricot), Taiwan flowering cherry, flowering peach and nectarine, Japanese flowering cherry, and Nanking cherry, all bloom between January and April.

Bamboo – clumping, running, dwarf, medium, large timber, and variegated forms.

Pines – Japanese Black Pine (the mainstay of garden), Japanese Red Pines (common, weeping, umbrella, and Dragon’s eye) as well as non-Asian pines such as Aleppo, Stone, Canary Island, and Torrey.


San Marino League

1. Specially trained docents lead tours of Japanese garden for school groups.
2. Ikebana group (studying Japanese style flower arranging weekly) provides live flower arrangements for the house.

Discovery cart – interactive educational station where children and adults learn about Japanese gardens and culture.

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