Japanese Garden Listed Among 12 Significant Threatened and At-Risk Landscapes Nationwide

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The Hannah Carter Japanese Garden in March 2012. (http://hannahcarterjapanesegarden.com)

WASHINGTON — The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) on Oct. 4 formally announced “Landslide,” its annual compendium of threatened and at-risk landscapes, which includes the Hannah Carter Japanese Garden in Los Angeles.

This year’s theme, “Landscape and Patronage,” focuses on visionary patrons and/or organizations and the sites they helped create and support. The late Edward W. Carter is recognized as the garden’s patron.

The announcement will be made at El Museo del Barrio in New York at a reception co-hosted with the Central Park Conservancy (CPC) at which CPC trustee Judith Carson was honored for her patronage of Central Park’s woodlands, and it preceded a daylong conference on Oct. 5, organized by TCLF and CPC, about stewardship of Central Park’s woodlands and urban woodlands nationally.

According to The Los Angeles Times, the Hannah Carter Japanese Garden, owned by UCLA and located in Bel Air, is “among the rarest examples of post-World War II Japanese private gardens in this country.” It was created in 1959 for the original owner, George Guiberson, by Nagao Sakurai, once chief gardener at Japan’s Imperial Palace in Tokyo, and garden designer Kazuo Nakamura. The steep 1.5-acre site incorporates an earlier A. E. Hanson design and is modeled on sites in Kyoto.

UCLA acquired the garden in 1964 courtesy of a gift from Carter, a former chair of the UC Board of Regents and a founder of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The gift was updated in 1982, naming the garden in honor of Carter’s wife, Hannah, and requiring UCLA to maintain the garden “in perpetuity.”

UCLA officials waited until the Carters were deceased and then, without notifying their heirs, persuaded a judge to overturn the gift’s “in perpetuity” terms and listed the property for sale in early 2012. In May 2012, heirs to the Carter estate filed a breach of contract lawsuit against UCLA to uphold the terms of the gift, and in late July a Superior Court judge issued a preliminary injunction temporarily halting the sale.

The garden’s fate remains uncertain until the completion of a hearing scheduled to begin in May 2013. For more information, visit http://hannahcarterjapanesegarden.com.

The other Los Angeles site on the list is Fern Dell in Griffith Park. At 4,310 acres, Griffith Park is among the largest urban parks in the nation. Its patron, Col. Griffith J. Griffith, donated the forested canyon lands to the city of Los Angeles in 1896 and continued to shape, steward, and advocate for the parklands until his death in 1919.

Fern Dell, a 90-year-old landscape located within the park at its southern edge, blends the natural with the constructed and creates a transition between the park’s wilderness and manicured areas. The 20-acre landscape situated in a spring-fed ravine is the only public fern garden of its size and significance in California. In the early 20th century, Griffith Park Superintendent Frank Shearer began planting native and imported ferns within the natural ravine. During the Depression, Civilian Conservation Corps artisans and workers who lived in three Works Progress Administration camps within the park enlarged Fern Dell.

Regularly scheduled, skilled maintenance of the landscape’s built and natural features ended in the 1970s, resulting in its steady deterioration.

“American history is replete with visionary, inspired and willful patrons who supported and shaped beloved and nationally significant estates, parks, plazas and other civic amenities across the country,” TCLF said in a statement. “Without these committed people and organizations, many landscapes we prize would not have come into existence or survive today.

“A majority of the 2012 sites face the most preventable yet pernicious threat – lack of maintenance – while some could be partially or wholly eradicated. ‘Landslide,’ first issued in 2003, has highlighted more than 150 significant at-risk parks, gardens, horticultural features, and working landscapes — collectively, places that embody our shared landscape heritage.”

The other endangered sites are:

* Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Burlington, Vt. Patron: Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington

* Garland Farm, Mount Desert, Maine. Patron: Beatrix Farrand

* Innisfree Garden, Millbrook, N.Y. Patron: Walter and Marion Beck

* Isham Park, New York, N.Y. Patron: Julia Isham Taylor

* Jack London Lake, Jack London State Historic Park, Glen Ellen, Calif. Patron: Jack London

* Jones Beach State Park, Wantagh, N.Y. Patron: Robert Moses

* Nasher Sculpture Garden, Dallas, Texas. Patron: Raymond and Patsy Nasher

* Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C. Patron: Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation

* Riverbank Park, Flint, Mich. Patrons: Army Corps of Engineers

* Thieme Drive, Fort Wayne, Ind. Patron: Theodore F. Thieme

“Landslide” is one of TCLF’s many initiatives that collectively highlight the importance of the nation’s rich and diverse landscape legacy. TCLF also features “What’s Out There,” a free, searchable online database of the nation’s designed landscapes; “Pioneers of American Landscape Design” with extensive biographies and profiles of hundreds of practitioners, well-illustrated oral histories with significant landscape architects and encyclopedic publications; along with symposia, books, and lectures.

“Each year ‘Landslide’ highlights different aspects of our landscape legacy to make that living heritage visible,” said Charles A. Birnbaum, TCLF founder and president. “In 2012 we focus on patrons and the places they helped create. In the nation’s capital and around the country, patronage is intrinsic to the creation and stewardship of great designed landscapes.”

“Davey is proud to support and recognize notable landscapes and trees across the country. These spaces enhance our environment and provide us with numerous benefits that better our lives and communities everyday,” Sandra Reid, manager of corporate communications/marketing for The Davey Tree Expert Company.

The Cultural Landscape Foundation (www.tclf.org) provides people with the ability to see, understand and value landscape architecture and its practitioners, in the way many have learned to do with buildings and their designers. Through its website, lectures, outreach and publishing, TCLF broadens the support and understanding for cultural landscapes nationwide to help safeguard the nation’s priceless heritage for future generations.

Complete details about “Landslide” and an online photography exhibition available here. “Landslide” is made possible by presenting sponsor The Davey Tree Expert Company (www.davey.com), education partner the American Society of Landscape Architects (www.asla.org) and media partner Landscape Architecture magazine.

Hannah Carter (left) in the Japanese Garden in 1973. (http://hannahcarterjapanesegarden.com)

 

 

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