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VALLEY FOCUS | Van Nuys

Record Crowd Views Fall Garden Event

October 05, 1998|EDWARD M. YOON

When Delores Christensen and her younger sister, Vanda DiMeo, visited the Japanese Garden in Van Nuys for the first time last winter, they discovered a hidden oasis in the middle of the San Fernando Valley.

"We absolutely fell in love with this place," said Christensen, 74, of Winnetka.

So when the sisters returned for the fifth annual "Autumn in the Garden" celebration Sunday they brought along their older brother, Sam Plancia, 76.

"Everything is so very green; the colors are gorgeous," Plancia said. "I think it's wonderful."

Against a backdrop of sunny skies and mild temperatures, the annual celebration drew a record crowd of more than 700 compared with last year's turnout of about 500, said Gene Greene, garden manager.

The large turnout came as a pleasant surprise to Dorothy Jorgens, a garden docent since 1996.

"We're glad to have a lot of people find out about the garden because it is here for the people to enjoy," said Jorgens, 72, one of 55 docents at the event.

This year's autumn celebration included a display of more than 30 miniature bonsai trees and demonstrations of origami and ikebana, Japanese flower arrangement. Docent George Fujimoto also demonstrated making plastic flower arrangements out of plastic beer- and soda-can holders.

The event included docent-led and self-guided tours of the 6 1/2-acre garden, which comprises more than 200 species of trees and plant life as well as ponds, waterfalls, islands, bridges and stone carvings.

"The amazing thing is, everywhere you look, it's a thing of beauty," said DiMeo of Tarzana.

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