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Photos: Visiting Amir's Garden, A Peaceful Oasis In Griffith Park
Planted about half-a-mile up off the side of Mineral Wells Road in Griffith Park, Amir's Garden sits as a peaceful asylum, offering hikers a place to unwind surrounded by a gorgeous view of Los Angeles in an artfully curated botanical garden.
Amir's Garden is a hidden gem, a 5-acre shaded oasis among the park's chaparral. The garden itself is more than 40 years old, originally planted 1971 by an Iranian immigrant named Amir Dialameh. Dialameh was an outdoorsy individual, who often found himself hiking through Griffith Park to escape what he termed the "pressures" of modern existence.
Following a fire that swept through Griffith Park in 1970, Dialameh asked the city of Los Angeles for permission to plant his garden. Along with giving hikers and equestrians a zen waypoint, the garden would also act as a firebreak. The city agreed, and Dialameh began his decades task process of planting, hedging, and nurturing what would become the retreat it is today.
When Dialameh passed in 2003, it wasn't initially clear who would maintain upkeep of the garden. Kristin Sabo, a 49-year-old grant-writer and good friend of Amir, took on the responsibility and has performed the tasks necessary for the garden's health for the past 13 years.
"The garden is 32 years of Amir's life. Most of his friends were in their 70s or older when he passed. They weren';t able maintain the garden. Even though I have a full-time job, I figured no one else was going to do it," Sabo said to LAist.
Sabo's has a wide range of responsibilities at the garden, from basic trimming all the way up to repairing leaky water pipes from the garden's irrigation system. Sabo also introduces new species, carting cuttings and seedlings she has nurtured at her home for planting in the garden.
Of course, the garden is not always peaceful. Sabo's biggest concern is how, often, hikers will blatantly disrespect the garden, trampling through the plants and even sometimes stealing plants for themselves.
"About half the new plants I put in end up getting stolen. It's amazing what people in L.A. will do—a culture without any reverence or idea of what a park is," Sabo says. "I mean, an awful lot of the people who visit are really great. They get it, and understand that the park is a place for the public. But there are also lots of those who are, let's say, not very gracious."
The garden is absolutely intact, but Sabo's biggest concern is visitors who come into the garden thinking only about themselves. The garden is for everyone—visitors should understand that what's there is to be shared and enjoyed by everyone.
Getting to Amir's garden is pretty simple. Ample parking may be found along Mineral Wells Road in Griffith Park. Follow this link for a specific pinpoint, though Google seems to be smart enough that entering "Parking Lot for Amir's Garden" into your Google Maps app will take you right there. Once parked, head towards the southwestern end of the parking area, just before the junction with Griffith Park Drive, where you'll find a fire road headed straight up the hillside. Amir's garden is about a 20-minute walk up the hill, no more than half a mile from the fire road's terminus.
Huell Howser also visited the garden a few years ago, and produced an entire episode of Visiting with Huell Howser documenting the garden's history and upkeep. For your viewing pleasure during a free half-hour: