Monday, April 28, 2014

Los Angeles ~The Huntington Library ~ The Chinese Garden

Other than the rose garden, this is my favorite outdoor space on the grounds of The Huntington Library. The beauty of this place truly just swept me away. We did spend a lot of time here, probably more than we should have due to the limited visitor hours, but we all just fell in love with it.
 The first view, walking down from the Conservatory, is of the beautiful rooftops and the emerald pond in the center of this space.
 And it's hard not to be totally charmed by the weeping willows, swimming ducks and lush vegetation of this area.
 Fortunately there are benches and chairs positioned everywhere so you can sit down, take it all in and relax. 
 On one side there is a lovely building, where a musician was playing a Chinese instrument for visitors, that you can walk through to get to the back of the area. We didn't want to disturb anyone so we chose to walk across the bridge. What you can't see in this photograph, on purpose, is that, on the other side of the bridge, were construction crews that were adding to this beautiful garden. There are to be at least one more building and even more pathways to stroll in the upcoming months. 
 While we were there a charming docent talked to us about this lovely place and told us the reason behind carp (or koi) being part of this area. Legend has it that the koi swim upstream to spawn and those who are able to jump the dragon gate become dragons. This simply means that if you work very hard at what you do then you will achieve wonderful things. Koi in a Chinese garden is also a symbol of wealth and they attract good luck. We were, indeed, charmed. 
 I'm a real fan of birds. Over the years, as a nature photographer, I have had to learn the names of hundreds of birds and, at first, I thought..."Oh look, a Night Heron". Close but no cigar. This is actually a Green Heron and my very first sighting of one. SO beautiful! 
 And speaking of beautiful. Symmetry is very much evident in the design of these gardens. Repeating patterns and symbolism is everywhere you look. 
 Long hallways connect one area of the Chinese gardens to the others and there are plenty of beautiful surprises along your way. And notice that each hallway has wonderful places to just sit and relax and take in the beauty.
 But don't forget to look down! I was fascinated by the tiny stones and slate that made up this patio area. Each meticulously placed to create this gorgeous pattern.
 Now here is a wonderful secret. This part of the gardens is actually a restaurant! You can order lunch and enjoy this beautiful view from either inside this building or on the patio area in front of it. We had lovely weather so we chose to eat outside and admire the ponds. Be aware, the serving sizes are HUGE. So plan to share. Also be aware, the food is simply wonderful! 
 This is the view from our lunch table and a good part of the reason we were in this section of the Huntington for a good long time. Who would possibly want to hurry away from this view? Not even our 12 year old was in a hurry to leave.
 Sadly, we did have other gardens to see and so we did finally make our way off of the lunch patio and headed towards the hallway that leads to the trail and the Japanese gardens.
Our last view of the gardens. They are SO beautiful we really could have just relaxed there all afternoon. I know that if we lived near I'd have to have a membership just so I could come here with a good book and while away many lovely hours.

And speaking of lovely. Next week we'll explore the Japanese and Rose gardens before heading inside to the galleries and the main house. Hope to see you then!


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