The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens announced today that, with the majority of funding in place, it is launching the final phase of construction on its renowned Chinese Garden, known by the poetic name Liu Fang Yuan 流芳園, the Garden of Flowing Fragrance. A ceremonial groundbreaking is scheduled for Aug. 28, with construction expected to continue for the next 18 months.
The new features will increase the garden’s footprint from the initial 3.5 acres to its long-planned 12 acres, making it one of the largest classical-style Chinese gardens in the world. Inspired by the centuries-old Chinese tradition of private scholars’ gardens, Liu Fang Yuan opened in 2008 with eight tile-roofed pavilions situated around a one-acre lake. In 2014, two new pavilions and a rock grotto were added.
An exhibition complex at the north end of the garden is one of the key elements of this final phase. Comprising a traditional scholar’s studio and an art gallery for changing displays, it will dramatically expand the possibilities for programming related to the garden. A new, larger café with outdoor seating will also be built in this northern section (the existing, smaller café will be re-purposed to provide tea and small bites), and a stream-side corridor and pavilion will offer scenic views. At the southern end of the lake, a hillside pavilion will be situated on the highest point in the garden, with a view of the Mt. Wilson Observatory in the distance. To the west, an event space for larger gatherings will overlook the lake. Pending additional fundraising, a courtyard for the display of penjing (miniature landscapes similar to Japanese bonsai) will be built, along with several acres of new garden spaces linked by winding pathways.
The garden will remain open to visitors during construction, with the new sections anticipated to open in February 2020.
“This is a long-held dream, to put the finishing touches on a project that has engaged thousands of visitors and scores of individualsfrom donors and diplomats to staff, scholars, and volunteers,” said Steve Hindle, The Huntington’s interim president. “The Chinese Garden is essential to our mission in that it expands our research and educational programs and provides extraordinary inspiration that extends across cultures. We are profoundly grateful to those who have made it possible.”