So there was this guy in the 1930s, a financier, who, while a goodly portion of the world stood in breadlines, installed a Japanese garden in his backyard. Well, backyard is the wrong word; estates don't have backyards, they have -- what -- acreage? Estaterage?
Anyway, that's what he did. And nothing against Mr. Storrier Stearns; for all I know, he donated millions to and fed thousands of those in need. But lazy me, I'll just kind of doubt that.
Eventually, the property, which ran the length of Arlington in Pasadena, was purchased and subdivided by a Gamelia Haddad Poulsen, of the Poulsen art gallery in Pasadena.
Fast forward to, why, it's 2013. Her son and his wife own the Japanese garden today. Over the past dozen years, they have sunk their every last dime (turn your back for a second, and gardens will to that to you) in order to preserve and revitalize this piece of Pasadena history. The garden is open to the public once a month ($7.50 buys you a whole day if you make the purchase in advance), and is also available for weddings and parties.
Today, the Haddads share their home with the horticulturist who tends the garden, a gentleman born in Mexico and educated in Japan.
"Sir," I said, "You grow running bamboo but your bamboo doesn't run. How do you keep it contained?"
"I tell the bamboo 'You grow here, and you don't grow there. Plants are very smart.'"
"No, I mean, do you cull them, cut them down, dig them out?"
"I just explain; I talk to them."
This man speaks three languages I don't -- Spanish, Japanese, and Plant. None of which I could possibly learn in a two-hour visit.
I'll be back. Here's how.