A Chinese garden, named Liu Fang Yuan or Flowing Fragrance, was formally opened to the public Saturday after many years of work.
The garden, located on the grounds of the Huntington Library in Los Angeles, brings one of the largest classical Chinese gardens outside China to Southern California.
"The garden is a magnificent window that the people of California now have into the Chinese culture, which doesn't exist anywhere else," Huntington board chairman Stewart R. Smith said at an invitation-only event for hundreds of dignitaries, donors and supporters.
The garden's 18.3-million-dollar first phase was powered by a landmark partnership between the Huntington and the region's fast-growing and increasingly influential Chinese American community.
The Huntington Library, long seen as a staid and largely Euro centric institution, recognized that ethnic Chinese were rapidly changing the neighborhood -- and the world -- and sought the ethnic community's help in bringing a 20-year garden vision to fruition, according to Suzy Moser, the library's assistant vice president for advancement.
"The garden is a way the Huntington can throw open its doors to an increasingly Chinese neighborhood and an increasingly Chinese world," she said.
The placid garden links botany with poetry and a scattered ethnic community with the elegant grandeur of its ancient civilization.
Reflecting both East and West, the garden's first phase includes a 1.5-acre lake, seven pavilions, five hand-carved stone bridges and a canyon waterfall set against a scenic backdrop of the San Gabriel mountains.
The garden contains more than 70 plant types, including indigenous California live oaks and pines, and native Chinese trees and plants, including weeping willows and several flowering trees.