Japanese Garden Festival at Descanso

Ikebana, Taiko drums and more beauty awaits in La Cañada Flintridge.

There's a reason so many poems and oil paintings and odes and essays go to the quiet heart of autumn and the quieter heart of nature for inspiration: The middle of fall kind of looks as though a watercolor has sprung from the wall and become a full-on, walk-in world.

Well, at least if you're in a very beautiful natural spot, one lush with tall trees, winding pathways, and a picture-perfect teahouse, too. It is exactly this setting that serves as the backdrop to the annual Japanese Garden Festival at Descanso Gardens. And it is exactly the time of year described above, the middle of autumn, that enhances the joyful and flower-filled character of the weekend-long celebration.

That weekend is Saturday, Nov. 7 and Sunday, Nov. 8, and a visit to the festival is included in your admission to the historic La Cañada Flintridge spread. While many of the horticultural and music-nice happenings will dot both days of the weekend, you'll want to be there Saturday for the Japanese Garden Tour, a walk that will be led by Dr. Kendall Brown, the author of "Quiet Beauty: The Japanese Gardens of North America."

The doings ready to blossom over both days include Ikebana displays, Taiko drumming by the Kishin Daiko drummers, and Japanese bites and sake sips at the on-site Camellia Lounge.

Speaking of camellias, they're on their way. It's the soft-petaled, soft-hued flower that's oft-associated with Descanso, thanks to the venerable property's many camellia bushes. Those bushes typically go to town in the blooming department come the start of the year and into February, but buds can peek out, around November, so the timing is lovely if you want to enjoy both the Japanese Garden Festival and some early camellia action.

Will it be like traipsing into an oil painting? It might be, if the light is right and your mood is set to "peace" and "tranquillity" on your own personal mood panel. Camellias and sake and strolling and music help set that particular stage, too.

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