In the middle of Van Nuys is an oasis of sublime visual beauty and peace.
And it's right next to a huge sewage plant.
The Japanese Garden at the Donald Tillman Water Reclamation Plant in Woodley Park is a wonderful place to give your eyes a break from the chaotic urban landscape. Built as part of the reclamation project that was finished in 1984, the 6 1/2-acre formal garden is a graceful mix of grassy, lake, marsh and rocky environs.
There are lovely bridges, delicately arranged rock formations, stone lanterns, trees in a bonsai style (only one is an authentic bonsai--more would have been prohibitively expensive), patches of flowers and a teahouse.
Each section was created by famed garden designer Koichi Kawana to express a specific theme, according to the helpful docents who give free, hourlong tours of the park. The tours end with a quick look at the huge, high-tech plant, which is almost invisible from the park and, happily, emits few foul smells.