Events Around the Country 3




When Cyndi Johnson belonged to the e-mail listserv Gardens, mail order was a frequent topic of conversation. “I had a vegetable garden,” she recalls, “but the rest of my yard was boring trees and grass. All the catalogs mentioned sounded so tempting, and I started a list so I’d remember them all in case I wanted to order.” Today, Johnson’s list exists as

The site organizes catalogs into individual lists by specialty. She writes descriptions of each nursery, and evaluates each on variety and prices. Since she can’t order from every catalog herself, she relies on visitors to help rate plant quality and customer service.

Johnson says, “I probably wouldn’t have tried many things if I didn’t have my catalog list to get me interested.” She tends a Japanese garden, a water garden, a section for natives, and a cottage flower garden. Her produce department is expanding, too: the veggies are going strong, and “I checked out some of the exotic fruit catalogs,” she says, “and now we have two jujube trees.”


Japanese Garden Festival

Descanso Gardens La Canada Flintridge, CA 818-949-4200

In 1937, E. Manchester Boddy, publisher of the Los Angeles Daily News, purchased 160 acres of live oak forest in southern California’s San Rafael hills and built his estate, Rancho del Descanso. Soon after purchasing the property, Boddy realized the live oak forest was an ideal setting for cultivating camellias, and enlisted the help of camellia specialist J. Howard Asper to create his own Camellia Forest. During World War II, Boddy purchased over 50,000 camellia plants from Japanese-American nurserymen being sent to relocation camps under the federal government’s internment program.

Today, Boddy’s mansion and the surrounding forest make up Descanso Gardens, a botanic garden and educational center just 20 minutes outside of Los Angeles. The Camellia Forest and Japanese Gardens provide a perfect autumn backdrop for celebrating Japanese and Japanese-American culture during the annual Japanese Garden Festival.

This festival presents Japanese horticulture, music, and artistry through special tours, shows, and classes. On Saturday, festival-goers can join a tour of the Japanese Garden and Camellia Forest and learn how to select and grow Japanese maples, chrysanthemums, azaleas, and camellias. All weekend, the Descanso and Glendale Chrysan-themum societies exhibit exotic and familiar varieties of Japan’s national flower. Judges representing the National Chrysanthemum Society present awards for both artistry and horticulture, and plants and bouquets are available for purchase, with society members on hand to give advice on their care. Taiko drumming and Japanese dance performances, origami workshops, and tea service round out the weekend.

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