Hannah Carter Japanese Garden, Los Angeles, CA

The Hannah Carter Japanese Garden Gets a 30-Year Reprieve

Hannah Carter Japanese Garden
Hannah Carter Japanese Garden - Photo by R. Michael Rich


The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has reached an agreement with the heirs of Edward and Hannah Carter, according to the Los Angeles Times, settling a legal dispute over the immediate fate of the historic Hannah Carter Japanese Garden in Bel-Air. Under the terms of the new agreement, the university is permitted to sell the garden only on condition that the new owner agree to preserve and maintain it for at least 30 years. 

Created by Nagao Sakurai and faithfully reconstructed by Koichi Kawana, the garden is among the most significant examples of post-War Japanese gardens in the United States. It was entrusted to UCLA in 1964 by Edward W. Carter (and subsequently renamed to honor his wife Hannah) and the university pledged to maintain it in perpetuity. But in 2010, following Mrs. Carter's death (Mr. Carter predeceased her), UCLA persuaded a judge to overturn the terms of the bequest and subsequently put the garden up for sale.

TCLF listed the garden in its Landslide program as an “at-risk” landscape in January 2012 and joined a coalition that included the Los Angeles Conservancy and others to halt its sale and ensure its long-term maintenance. Then, on July 27, 2012, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge issued a temporary injunction delaying UCLA’s sale of the garden and upholding its legal obligation to maintain it. The garden has been closed to visitors for some time, and this most recent agreement contains no stipulation regarding public access. But it is the hope of the members of the Coalition to Save the Hannah Carter Japanese Garden that any new owner would seek a conservation easement and allow for periods of public visitation.