MUSEUM GARDEN UPDATE by Richard Suran

Osmanthus tree, the new addition to the garden and a special gift to the museum from USC.

Osmanthus tree, the new addition to the garden and a special gift to the museum from USC.

The present day garden in the courtyard of the USC Pacific Asia Museum was first laid out in 1978. It remains close to the original plan except for some plant changes that occurred at the time the north side of the courtyard was torn up for a repair project in 2005. In early 2011, the gardener was laid off to cut expenses. In response, our Operations officer and myself, as a museum trustee and member of the Building and Grounds committee, along with a group of docents formed a volunteer group to maintain the garden until the museum could hire another gardener to take over. The group was mentored by docent Darlene Kelly, who holds a Master Gardener certificate and was employed at the Los Angeles County Arboretum for a number of years. During the two and a half years the volunteer group maintained the garden, we suffered the worst drought in California’s history along with a record breaking hot summer of 2013, A few plants were lost and the koi in the pond died from causes that were never able to be determined (they don’t like too much heat). Since then, the pond has been restocked and the new fish are doing well, and the garden is flourishing again with a regular gardener that now comes every Monday morning and is paid for by the museum. A few months ago, the garden received a new pine tree from Georgie Erskine, and more recently received a new Osmanthus tree as a gift from USC. The USC Arborist came to plant both last month.

As for me, I have been a member and supporter of this museum for about 24 years, serving as president of the Japanese Arts Council, trustee for three years, chairperson of the Building and Grounds Committee, and volunteer gardener. My background includes an engineering degree and career and a Masters degree in Asian Studies. I hope to continue supporting the museum for years to come.

Richard Suran working in the courtyard garden at USC PAM.

Richard Suran working in the courtyard garden at USC PAM.

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