The seed of the Huntington’s Japanese Garden is a love story. Jim Folsom is like the "bard of the botanical." He is director of the gardens and has there for nearly three decades. He explains how Henry Huntington built the Japanese Garden in part as a courtship offering: "That would be one nice summary of it. And it was so quaint and iconic, so exotic and picturesque," he says.
In the early 1900s, Japanese tea gardens had become quite fashionable and a fascination of the very wealthy. To impress the woman he wanted to marry, railroad magnate Henry Huntington literally pulled an entire Japanese garden from a nearby emporium and transplanted it to his San Marino estate.
“They built it through a simple expedient," Folsom explains. "There was an import business on the corner of California and Fair Oaks across from where Boston Market is today. It was a tea garden. And it was an emporium to sell Asian antiquities. Mr. Huntington bought the entire business and moved all the ornaments and the plants here."
So the Japanese Garden at the Huntington started blooming in 1912. And one year later, Henry married Arabella Yarrington. To this day, the garden view is like a romantic painting, dotted with ponds and purple wisteria dangling over trellises. There’s the moon bridge nestled in, and it’s all draped with a majestic view of the San Gabriel Mountains. LISTEN + PHOTOS
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