Although many Angelenos may not know or remember, it was Japanese-Americans who once dominated the landscaping and gardening service industry throughout Los Angeles from the early 1900's till the late 60's (an amazing 1 in 10 Japanese in Southern California was a gardener in 1918). It's interesting to note that coinciding with the popularity of all things "zen" (a cringe-inducing meaningless marketing term now), the history of Japanese gardening with our city's modernist past is being rediscovered and re-explored.
The Japanese American National Museum opened their exhibit, "Landscaping America: Beyond the Japanese Garden", this Sunday, offering visitors a look into the concepts and execution of Japanese garden design, where right angles are notably absent and symbolism runs deep. The Los Angeles Times has a great three page article about this story about our city's citizens and its landscape, outlining some of the basic tenets of Japanese style gardening and how they can be applied to a drought-sensitive Californian landscape (rock garden!). But if you require first hand inspiration, I'd recommend a childhood favourite destination (to this day, no other style of garden evokes such wonder and sense of beauty in my eyes), The James Irvine Garden.