Chinese

The man behind the Huntington’s Chinese Garden art

Before he left China in 1986, Che Zhao Sheng’s shifu, or teacher, said to him, “After you go to the United States, share some of our Chinese culture with them if you have a chance.” The shifu was a penjing master, the man who taught Che the art of creating miniaturized trees and plants in pots, pruned and constricted over time to take the shape and spirit of their full-size siblings.



a blurry image of a man: The Huntington's resident penjing artist, Che Zhao Sheng, in the newly expanded Chinese Garden at the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino. (Josie Norris / Los Angeles Times)


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The Huntington’s resident penjing artist, Che Zhao Sheng, in the newly expanded Chinese Garden at the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino. (Josie Norris / Los Angeles Times)



One of Che Zhao Sheng's penjing at the newly expanded Chinese Garden. (Josie Norris / Los Angeles Times)


© (Josie Norris / Los Angeles Times)
One of Che Zhao Sheng’s penjing at the newly expanded Chinese Garden. (Josie Norris / Los Angeles Times)

Today, more than three decades later, the student is fulfilling that legacy, and in a major way. Che is specialist gardener for the penjing court, the Verdant Microcosm, in the newly expanded Chinese Garden at the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino.

A spry 69-year-old with a broad-brimmed straw hat and a water bottle tucked into the side of his workman’s pants, he is surveying the 21 penjing brought from his home garden, plants that have been unloaded in a cluster on the ground. He points out the varieties — Chinese elm, olive, ficus — then suggests we go look at one of his favorites down the hill.



a vase with flowers in front of a mirror posing for the camera: Che Zhao Sheng places a penjing on its stand in preparation for the Chinese Garden expansion's opening. (Josie Norris/Los Angeles Times)


© (Josie Norris/Los Angeles Times)
Che Zhao Sheng places a penjing on its stand in preparation for the Chinese Garden expansion’s opening. (Josie Norris/Los Angeles Times)

The court is composed of winding paths, whitewashed walls and occasional pieces of gnarled Taihu rock imported from Lake Tai in China. We pause before a twisting

The magical new Chinese Garden at the Huntington is the getaway you need right now

Enchanting. Extraordinary. Entrancing.



a body of water surrounded by trees: The new Stargazing Tower, with its sweeping view to Mt. Wilson, commands the highest point in the Chinese Garden at the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)


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The new Stargazing Tower, with its sweeping view to Mt. Wilson, commands the highest point in the Chinese Garden at the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Really, there aren’t enough superlatives to describe the $25-million completion of the magnificent Liu Fang Yuan — the Garden of Flowing Fragrance — at the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino. But that’s probably for the best, since a description with too many embellishments would go against the core aesthetic of the now 15-acre space commonly known as the Chinese Garden, which finally opens to the public on Friday.

The newly completed garden should have opened in May, with great fanfare and many public events, but the COVID-19 pandemic ended those plans and forced the closure of the institution for several months. In this respect, the pandemic has been a bit of a gift: It gave the landscapers more time to complete plantings, and now that the Huntington has reopened, with social distancing rules limiting daily attendance, visitors will be able to experience the Chinese Garden without the usual crowds.

That’s a lucky thing, because the garden is a meditative spot, with something to inspire or delight at every step — turtles posing in the Lake of Reflected Fragrance, near the weaving Bridge of the Joy of Fish; the intricate pebble mosaics on the walkways and courtyards; the huge contorted oaks sprawling over the new courtyard outside the Flowery Brush Library; the garden’s handmade charcoal-colored roof tiles and swooping roofs; the whimsical cutouts in the freestanding walls; the giant limestone rocks looming throughout, like sculptural deities.

The good news-bad news is that experiencing the Garden of Flowing Fragrance will take patience. Because of

Daniel Stowe Garden cancels Chinese Lantern Festival, but not directly due to COVID-19

A festival that drew hundreds of thousands of visitors on its first stop in the Charlotte region will not have an encore this year.

The popular Chinese Lantern Festival, scheduled to begin Oct. 15 in Belmont, has been canceled, Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden said Thursday in a statement.

Hanart Culture’s festival was featured at the garden in fall 2017 and attracted more than 100,000 visitors in eight weeks, according to the statement. More than 800 hand-crafted Chinese lanterns were set up on 12-plus acres in the formal gardens and public spaces, the Observer previously reported.

The festival had previously been rescheduled from August to October because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The show’s producer is based in the U.S. but depends on Chinese artists. U.S. embassies and consulate offices are closed or operating on a limited basis throughout Asia, so Hanart Culture was unable to secure visas because of “ever-changing policies,” a trickle effect of COVID-19, according to the garden.

“We had become confident in our ability to implement an incredible experience in a safe and healthy manner, but rescheduling at this time isn’t practical,” said Jim Hoffman, the garden’s interim executive director.

Ticket holders can receive a refund or receive a deal on tickets to the annual Holidays at the Garden beginning in late November. More details about this year’s event will be released soon.

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Chinese Lantern Festival at Daniel Stowe Garden canceled

A festival that drew hundreds of thousands of visitors on its first stop in the Charlotte region will not have an encore this year.

The popular Chinese Lantern Festival, scheduled to begin Oct. 15 in Belmont, has been canceled, Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden said Thursday in a statement.

Hanart Culture’s festival was featured at the garden in fall 2017 and attracted more than 100,000 visitors in eight weeks, according to the statement. More than 800 hand-crafted Chinese lanterns were set up on 12-plus acres in the formal gardens and public spaces, the Observer previously reported.

The festival had previously been rescheduled from August to October because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The show’s producer is based in the U.S. but depends on Chinese artists. U.S. embassies and consulate offices are closed or operating on a limited basis throughout Asia, so Hanart Culture was unable to secure visas because of “ever-changing policies,” a trickle effect of COVID-19, according to the garden.

CHINESE_LANTERNS_01 (2)
Lanterns shaped as tigers were part of the Chinese Lantern Festival at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden in Belmont in 2017. The festival has been canceled for 2020. John D. Simmons Observer file photo

“We had become confident in our ability to implement an incredible experience in a safe and healthy manner, but rescheduling at this time isn’t practical,” said Jim Hoffman, the garden’s interim executive director.

Ticket holders can receive a refund or receive a deal on tickets to the annual Holidays at the Garden beginning in late November. More details about this year’s event will be released soon.

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Catherine Muccigrosso is the retail business reporter for The Charlotte Observer. An award-winning journalist, she has worked for multiple newspapers and McClatchy for more than a decade.

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Hillicon Valley: House panel says Intelligence Community not equipped to address Chinese threats

Welcome to Hillicon Valley, The Hill’s newsletter detailing all you need to know about the tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. If you don’t already, be sure to sign up for our newsletter with this LINK.



a person sitting at a table in front of a sign: Hillicon Valley: House panel says Intelligence Community not equipped to address Chinese threats | House approves bill to send cyber resources to state, local governments


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Hillicon Valley: House panel says Intelligence Community not equipped to address Chinese threats | House approves bill to send cyber resources to state, local governments

Welcome! Follow our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech reporter, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills), for more coverage.

THE IC GETS A LESS THAN STELLAR REVIEW: A House committee warned Wednesday that the U.S. intelligence community is not equipped to handle evolving threats from China in the fields of technology and politics.

The House Intelligence Committee detailed its findings in an unclassified summary of a report, approved for release by the panel by voice vote, that delves into the intelligence community’s (IC) capabilities to respond to Chinese threats.

“The United States’ intelligence community has not sufficiently adapted to a changing geopolitical and technological environment increasingly shaped by a rising China and the growing importance of interlocking non-military transnational threats, such as global health, economic security, and climate change,” the committee wrote in its summary.

“Absent a significant realignment of resources, the U.S. government and intelligence community will fail to achieve the outcomes required to enable continued U.S. competition with China on the global stage for decades to come, and to protect the U.S. health and security,” the committee added.

The report said the IC places “insufficient emphasis and focus” on “soft threats,” such as viral pandemics and climate change, and that if the IC did not modernize systems to increase focus on machine learning and artificial intelligence, national security could be undermined.

On the technological front, “China’s continued advancements in cyber