Room with a view

September 27th, 2007

Recounted in honor of the garden’s inclusion in this weekend’s California Garden and Landscape History Society tour of Japanese gardens:

I brightened in the backseat as the real estate agent detoured down Lima Street to tell the story of Italia Mia, the estate built in Sierra Madre at the century’s start by a southern heiress who fell in love with Italy but ended up here instead, a bon vivant who lavished her home with hillside gardens including this one – we stopped –now the oldest private Japanese garden in southern California. The little house came later behind this wrought iron fence bordered by a thicket of bamboo, beyond this garden gate with the kanji inscription that foretells mosses abundant as ocean waves, and farther on, inside the front door carved with bluebirds on a blossoming branch, and out back again into the open-armed garden, intact and exquisite, its ponds and rocks poised in amazing place since 1916, under the shifting shade of ancient sycamores, the water falling in the hushed company of a tea house, the pines pining and each perfect plant waiting patiently for a gardener.

The whole thing was built for Zen, the realtor added unknowingly, knowing nothing about us, knowing least of all how to judge the silence that had frozen us in place, breathless and still with the stunning arrival in a story that was suddenly ours.

P.S. All this, plus liftoff and effortless steering, too. Happy weekend, everyone. Happy everyone.

And back next week with more on this business of happiness.


  1. Oooo, did you get your Dyson?

    Comment by Mama Zen — September 27, 2007 @ 5:24 pm

  2. You have been such a wonderful inspiration to me, so much so that I actually started a blog! thank you for your wonderful book. You put my thoughts into words and helped me believe them…

    Comment by Mika — September 27, 2007 @ 8:07 pm

  3. This isn’t about this post but I had a question and thought you might see it here. Anyway, I read your article on Barbie and liked it. But since I have a son, my issue isn’t with Barbie, but with guns.

    Barbie may or may not be a cultural evil (I have fond memories of my Barbies, I should say), but Barbies don’t kill people. Guns kill people. So, I remain conflicted when my son wants a toy gun and yet I know how prohibition can be.

    Is there the Dharma of guns?

    Comment by marta — September 28, 2007 @ 3:34 am

  4. Yes Marta, there is dharma of all things and it is the same dharma. But why don’t you go to “my complete profile” link on the upper right hand column, then click on the link to email me and I will answer you personally. I’m glad you found me, and I look forward to communicating.

    Comment by Karen — September 28, 2007 @ 3:41 am

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