Whenever I have some leisure time on the weekends, I love to walk to my two favorite nurseries Yamaguchi Bonsai Nursery and Hashimoto Nursery. These Los Angeles nurseries almost have the quiet serenity of a botanical garden, where I can find both inspiration and an opportunity to stroll amongst plants just off the busy street of Sawtelle. Although I always visit with the intention of only “window shopping”, I always end up coming home with new plants! It amazes me that these two family-owned retail nurseries are still standing amongst the growing development of new condo units, restaurants, and businesses along revitalized Sawtelle Blvd.
The history of the nursery industry in the Sawtelle area is fascinating. According to Preserving California’s Japantowns, The Japanese American community on Sawtelle dates back to the 1910s. From 1920 to 1924, the town’s population increased from 3,500 residents to 10,700 due to the proximity of the beach, fertile land, and the growing neighboring communities in Westwood, Bel Air, and Brentwood – all affluent neighborhoods that provided a demand for Japanese gardeners and nurserymen.
By 1941, Sawtelle had a total of 26 nurseries, florist shops, and 8 boarding houses. The boarding houses were essentially a school that provided gardener apprenticeships and helped establish gardening routes for the boarders. After World War II, these boarding houses continued to provide much needed shelter, support, and transition for post-war Japanese immigrants.
Even today – with information, high resolution photos of plants, and purchasing options just a mouse click away – online plant shopping can never substitute the joy of a walking into a nursery, an experience where visitors can experience an assortment of plants with all the sense, from a prickly cactus, to the smell of blooming citrus, to the fuzzy leaf of a cucumber plant.
Yamaguchi Bonsai Nursery
1905 Sawtelle Blvd.
- There’s an amazing bonsai collection towards the back of the nursery which is definitely worth a peek.
- The cute grandma that sits by the register always gives a warm welcoming smile.
- There’s a champion Floss Silk Tree at the parking lot that has been there since the late 50’s to early 60s.
1935 Sawtelle Blvd.
- Large collection of edibles and pottery.