The City of Los Angeles figured out an interesting way to beautify an ugly industrial plant and re-use wastewater. Adjacent to the Tillman Water Reclamation Plant in Van Nuys, California is a impeccably manicured 6.5 acre Japanese garden. It is fittingly called Suiho-en, which means “Garden of Water and Fragrance.” I was in LA last weekend to attend the wedding of two of my best friends from high school and had some time to spare before my flight home, so I got to experience this water and fragrance first hand.
The fragrance was especially strong nearest the processing plant over by the blooming Japanese flowering cherry trees (Prunus serrulata ’kwanzan’). They were all in full bloom, but the fragrance I could smell was coming over the fence from where the reclaimed water was actually being treated before going into the lakes and streams of the garden, nearby Balboa Lake, and the Los Angeles River. According to the pamphlet we received when entering the garden, no solids are treated here at this particular plant, but it sure didn’t smell that way.
But really, that fragrance was rather minor compared to the overall beauty of the entire garden. There were a few other areas that didn’t smell as fresh and crisp as I would have expected, but it was rather warm that day in LA. All joking aside, growing a garden with reclaimed water is a great and very eco-friendly thing to do. Water has always been a limited resource in LA, as it now is in so many areas across the US from our rather dry winter this year. Suiho-en shows that you still can have a beautiful garden with reclaimed water – and it’s been showing this for the last 25 years. For more information, check out their website at www.thejapanesegarden.com
I was quite impressed with Suiho-en. I visited several amazing gardens when I was in Japan two summers ago and this Southern California version was very reminiscent of what I saw there, although with definite California twist (such as the California redwoods – Sequoia sempervirens – instead of the traditional Japanese redwood - Cryptomeria japonica).
The balance of Yin and Yang was apparent. My few hours there with family was quite rejuvenating – exactly what I needed after all the stress of work, school, and traveling.
Here are some shots I took during my visit: