An Island of Serenity and a Bamboo proverb define the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Gardens

Oct 09, 2010 by Sandy Schroeder

Dedicated in April 1981, the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Gardens at California State University Long Beach has a story to tell that’s all about fulfilled promises.

The donor and the architect set out to mirror the traditional Japanese garden, blending the natural elements of water, stone and plants. They succeeded brilliantly. Once you visit, I predict that you’ll return.

I was there on a weekday morning recently and it was like a pocket meditation. One minute I was in brisk Long Beach city traffic, a few minutes later I was drifting along its garden paths, storing up visual memories.

If you have ever tried meditation and visualization to relieve stress, this is the place to capture special visual memories.

When you’re stressed out, you can step away from your job, home or other situation and come to the Earl Burns Japanese Gardens.

Beside mediation and visualization, the Earl gardens also lend themselves out to the public for weddings, anniversaries, receptions and unique special events, such as the Chrysanthemum Show, that’s coming October 24, (see details below).

The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Gardens History

It all began with Mrs. Loraine Miller Collins’ gift in memory of her late husband. After three years of planning with California State University Long Beach, she selected Edward Lovell, Long Beach’s master planner architect to design the 1.3 acre garden.

He flew to Japan and was captivated by the Imperial Gardens in Tokyo. At the dedication, Lovell said, " The garden will mellow in about 30 years. What we’re doing is creating something of beauty and value for people that we will perhaps never meet."

Edward Lovell passed away in 2008 at the age of 89. His words and his work by that time. had become a reality.

"I think he was very respectful of the Japanese tradition of gardens," said Jeanette Schelin, director of the garden. He was an extremely thoughtful person and very knowledgeable about plants. In 27 years, they’re grown and matured, and I think that’s a reflection of his skill." Lovell also worked closely with Ed Killingsworth, the principal design architect, to fill 150 acres of Long Beach State’s campus with nearly 80 species of ornamental plants, 75 acres of bonsai double-dwarf fesue turn grass, and at least 15,000 trees of more than 40 varieties, including 3,000 flowering peach trees.

The donor’s thoughts: ‘Bamboo bends but never breaks.’

I have a dream for this garden. When a person is tired, or anxious, or in a quest of beauty, may they enter and come forth refreshed to meet the problems of the day. There will be music of the wind through the pines, music from the waterfalls and the birds. There will be serenity as you walk around the lake, and joy, I hope, in the beauty of the reflections in that lake. There will be iris and azaleas in the Spring. Flowering magnolia in Summer. In the Fall, chrysanthemums and the gold of the liquid amber trees. There will be strength and solidity in the rocks and the wooden bridges. And, of course, there will be bamboo, a favorite wood of the Japanese because it is so useful and beautiful. There is an old proverb that says, ‘Bamboo bends but never breaks.’ It is my hope that as you leave your tour of the garden, you will find in your heart that proverb, and the day will be filled with joy." – Loraine Miller Collins

Chrysanthemum Show 2010: Green Tea, Autumn Gold & Wine Tasting

Sunday, October 24th, Noon – 4 p.m.

Come see a variety of Japanese flower arranging techniques in vases and as installations in the garden itself. The presenters wear vintage and modern Japanese kimonos featuring mums and other fall ornaments. You’ll be able to enjoy an exhibit of Japanese tea bowls and other accouterments:

A Formal tea ceremony will be presented by Madam Numano and the Urasenke School of Tea, from Noon-3:15 p.m., where you’ll be able to have your own cup of powdered tea and traditional Japanese treats.

Wine tasting is from 1:00-4:00pm  Admission: Adult $7, Seniors $6, Members $5, Children 12 and under free

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