April 22, 2008

Amir's Garden

It was like the tree on Mt. Cahuenga, only better. Like my encounter with that tree, this was a complete surprise.

I had a some time for a run, so I parked the car in the L.A. Zoo parking lot, as I have done several times in recent weeks. Running up the dirt trail, I enjoyed the views from the ridge that separates the zoo from the eastern edge of the San Fernando Valley. Fifteen minutes later, I arrived at the Mineral Springs picnic area.

I wasn't ready to turn back, so I found a trail I hadn't been on before and continued on my run. This section was completely in the sun, heading up a hill covered with chaparral. I wasn't really paying a whole lot of attention to the vegetation ... that is, until I noticed an unusual assortment of brightly colored flowers. They were different from any of the wildflowers I had passed to that point. Looking further up, I saw more, and it was obvious that they were not wild, but had been planted there.

A few more steps brought me to a beautiful shaded area with benches and picnic tables. A flagpole stood in the middle. A tree in the center had a low stone wall built around it. And half a dozen trails led off down the hill in various directions.

I began following the trails, which twisted and meandered through the dense plantlife. Every so often I would find another bench or table in its own little area. The nature of the paths was such that I felt like I was walking a labyrinth, albeit one in which I could only see a small portion of the whole due to all the plants and trees. In some areas, the trees and shrubs formed a tunnel through which the trails passed; in others, sunlight filtered down to the trail.

What I had discovered by accident was a garden which was planted the year I was born by a man named Amir, and which is now maintained by volunteers. It can only be found by those willing to hike or ride a horse. Some maps of Griffith Park do show Amir's Garden, although I suspect that most park visitors don't know of its existence. Which is just fine by me.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

I'm so glad Amir's garden is still there. I had heard it was damaged or destroyed in the last fire up there.