Posted in Let's Get Visual, Life, Pasadena

Lincoln Avenue Nursery

I have known for a long time that the previous owner of my house was also the owner of  Lincoln Avenue Nursery.  I stopped at the nursery once years ago on a rainy day, but I didn’t stay to look around.  Since then, I have driven up Lincoln Avenue about a zillion times thinking to myself, “I want to stop in there one of these days.”

Last Sunday was One of These Days.  Last Sunday, I stopped. I walked through the whole (huge!) property. As Ferris Bueller says, “Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

From the nursery’s web site:  “In 1923, a Japanese family bought the nursery. Ms. Mary Takemura’s mother ran the business.”

I live in the house that was owned by Mary Takemura’s mother.  Her surname was Matsuzawa (I wish I knew her first name).  When Mary and her sister sold the house after their mother died, they sold it with everything left in it except for their mother’s clothes—-the furniture (I’m still using the dining room table and the sideboard), the dishes (I regret getting rid of them), and the stuff in the drawers.

Yes, I still have some of the stuff that was in the drawers.  I use the tacks once in a while.  The Antiobiotic Candettes container holds 3 razors and 2 3-inch sewing needles.  In case I ever need them.  I didn’t know/remember that the bathtub caulk was still in the drawer.  That’ll get tossed today.

I couldn’t get over the size of the nursery’s property.  There are tens of thousands of plants, trees, shrubs, and succulents there.

I felt like I was at a micro version of the Huntington.

Mary Takemura died in January 2011.  From her obituary:

…She was a lifetime resident of Pasadena and is survived by husband Henry (married 62 years), with whom she ran Lincoln Avenue Nursery for more than 50 years; daughter Joan Takemura (David) Johnsen; and sister Ruth Sumiko Matsuzawa Ikeda.

Mary graduated from high school at Gila River Relocation Center, studied 2 years at Wooster College, Ohio, and graduated in 1948 from UCLA with a degree in Psychology. She was also an artist and worked at drawing, painting, making pottery and calligraphy.

I never learned about the Japanese Internment in school.  I learned about it when I moved to this house, built just after the war.  Built just after internment.

I wish I had contacted Mary before she died.  I would love to hear about her life, about her mother’s life, and about her father.  I feel connected to this family–when I go out to the lemon tree in the backyard and pick a lemon; every year when the cherry blossom tree in the front yard blooms.  And every time I need a 1/2 inch tack.


This is a personal blog. Expect a potpourri of stuff.

10 thoughts on “Lincoln Avenue Nursery

  1. When I bought my naked house in 2000, I bought most of my plants (and you know I’ve got a lot of plants) from Mary and Henry. Not sure why, exactly. There were other nurseries, but I liked Mary and Henry. I really liked just to visit and walk around the acres. I’d always ask Henry if I could help him load up one of the 15 gallon pots on his little motor truck, but he was way too proud for that.

    And come spring and berry time, we’d dig the blackberry starts from out of the sand. They’re running rampant in my backyard.

    A couple of years after they sold the place, I ran into the two of them, doing laundry where I do laundry — at that place on Grand in So Pas.

    And I asked Henry, “Do you miss the nursery?”

    “Not a day goes by,” he said. “I dream about it every night.”

  2. Very small world! Glad you stopped by and I am glad that there are still family run businesses around.

    My grandparents gardener was referred thru Lincoln Nursery, which my grandparents used because it was the closest one to their home in LV, but also one of the largest, nearest their home. Mr T, as I called him (I was a little young to pronounce his whole name, which I don’t recall now) didn’t speak a lot of English, but did a great job, He would always smile and wave at me enthusiastically while on his rounds in the yard. Sometimes, when he knew I was visiting my grandparents, he would drop off some origami creations on the back porch for me to enjoy.

    My grandmother also got a referral to her hairdresser nearby the nursery and she went there for eons. If I was going around with my grandmother that day, I would sit quietly and listen to all the ladies titter—some women in English, some in Japanese as the women would have their hair done. All so perfect, not a motion wasted and everyone came out looking like a magazine model.

    Small world—a stop at a nursery leads to a landscaper, leads to a hairdresser and now to a blog and your home…pretty amazing!

  3. The last place I purchased a plant was here (no, I take that back – a cherry guava at Orchards). But I purchased an orange tree here, that according to Christine at Thinking Stomach, was the correct thing to do. Sadly, there is a threatening blight facing down our citrus industry and one shouldn’t be carrying the plants across borders. An infected plant appeared early in HP.

    Also, I remember visiting a run down nursery in the area of Burchards(?) that had a house on the property and container trees that had broken loose and were taking root. The two elderly sisters who owned it, along with their father, told me that kind hearted neighbors had taken over their nursery while they were interred and gave it back to them on their return. This was when I first purchased my home 97. They’re probably gone now.

    btw: come visit my blog and enjoy my enchanting evening spent listening to Lita Albuquerque at the Mount Wilson Observatory

  4. I was once married to Mary and Hank’s daughter. They were a great family. Hank was the dreamer and Mary the realist of the couple, and their nursery benefited from both of their visions.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s