Some of L.A.'s most famous attractions are its spectacular gardens, from the Rose Garden in Exposition Park to the Central Garden at the Getty Center and more than a dozen gardens at The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens. Go beyond these popular destinations and head off the beaten path to discover five hidden gem gardens across the city.
Kyoto Gardens - DoubleTree by Hilton Los Angeles Downtown
Located in Little Tokyo, the DoubleTree by Hilton Los Angeles Downtown features a lush sanctuary on its rooftop, the idyllic Kyoto Gardens. Spanning a half-acre of manicured greenery, cascading waterfalls and tranquil ponds, the garden is a meticulous recreation of an ancient Japanese Garden in Tokyo that was originally established for the 16th century samurai lord Kiyomasa Kato. One of L.A.'s most popular event and wedding venues, Kyoto Gardens also features the outdoor Upper and Lower Terraces, as well as the Thousand Cranes room, which boasts stunning views of the garden and skyline. Kyoto Gardens has appeared in numerous commercials, movies and TV series, including The Runaways, Rampart, Her, Law and Order Los Angeles, The Biggest Loser, NCIS Los Angeles, Prime Suspect, Hostage, David Tutera’s My Fair Wedding and Battle of the Sexes.
Amir's Garden - Griffith Park
Spanning more than 4,300 acres, Griffith Park is one of the largest urban parks in North America and home to some of L.A.'s most popular attractions, including the Los Angeles Zoo, Autry Museum of the American West, and the Greek Theatre. Tucked away on a steep hill in Griffith Park, Amir's Garden is a labor of love enjoyed by hikers and equestrians alike. The five-acre garden is the legacy of Amir Dialameh, who worked on the shaded grove for 32 years.
A native of Iran, Dialameh regularly hiked the Mineral Wells trail through Toyon Canyon on his way across Griffith Park, before a major brush fire devastated the area in 1971. The sight of the scorched landscape moved him to action. After obtaining permission from city officials, Dialameh cleared the charred tree stumps. Over the years, he planted pine and jacaranda trees for shade, along with rose bushes, geraniums, oleander, and yucca, transferring the barren hillside into a beautiful oasis. Dialameh also built stairs to the picnic area and added colorful wooden benches. Amir Dialameh passed away in 2003. Today his gift to Los Angeles is maintained by volunteers and volunteer groups, with assistance from the City of L.A. Park Rangers and park maintenance workers.
Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden - UCLA
Nestled within the UCLA campus in Westwood, the 7.5-acre Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden is a living museum that maintains one of the most important living botanical collections in the U.S. Over 3,000 types of plants grow in the garden and a wide range of environments are found within its borders, from the dry desert and Mediterranean sections on the eastern end to the shaded, lush interior. A stream and series of ponds run through the center of the garden, which is home to koi and turtles. As part of its public education program, the garden offers free docent-led tours for groups of eight or more.
Suiho En (“Garden of Water and Fragrance”) is a 6.5-acre authentic Japanese garden fashioned after “stroll gardens” constructed during the 18th and 19th centuries for Japanese Feudal lords. This San Fernando Valley hidden gem was created by Dr. Koichi Kawana to provide beauty, relaxation, inspiration and a better understanding of Japanese culture using reclaimed water. Dr. Kawana designed more than a dozen major Japanese gardens in the United States, including the botanical gardens at LACMA.
Pasadena's only dedicated free public garden, Arlington Garden was built in 2005 on the former site of the historic Durand Mansion. The garden includes thousands of California-native plants such as poppies, sunflowers, cactus and succulents, orchards of orange and olive trees, and many more species. Arlington Garden also features a variety of benches and tables, birdbaths and statuary. In November 2008, 21 crepe myrtle trees were donated and permanently installed at Arlington as part of Yoko Ono's Wish Trees series. A classical, seven-circuit Labyrinth was built at the garden in October 2010.