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  • 04 Mar 2015 4:08 PM | NAJGA Communications (Administrator)

    Japanese gardens outside of Japan number more than 450, of which approximately 300 are in North America. Of that substantial number, fewer than 20 have reached the centennial mark. In this issue, six gardens across the continental United States and out into the Pacific were asked to share their centennial stories. 

    Book Review - "One Hundred Years in the Huntington's Japanese Garden: 

    Harmony With Nature"

    Book reviewer - Dr. Jill Raggett, NTF; Edited by: June T. Li; Contributors - Kendall H. Brown, James Folsom, Naomi Hirahara, Robert Hori, Kelly Sutherlin McLeod

    "Every historic garden should have a book like this, a publication that brings together the physical and archival evidence about a designed landscape in a readable and engaging form. This book uncovers the stories of the origins, creators and on-going appreciation and use of the Huntington's Japanese Garden following a year-long closure during which a $6.8 million renovation was undertaken... The garden reopened in April 2012 to mark its centennial as a beloved and iconic landscape in Pasadena, California."

    Maymont: A Victorian Estate's Japanese Garden, 1912 

    Carla Murray

    "Maymont, a 100-acre estate in Richmond Virginia, celebrated the centennial anniversary of its Japanese garden in 2012 with a year-long series of programs and events...Japanese gardens were among the favorite showplaces for Gilded Age showplaces such as Maymont, so it is no surprise that James and Sallie Dooley employed Japanese garden makers to plant such a landscape in the wedge-shaped section of land, adjacent to the Kanawha Canal, which they purchased in 1911."

    Brooklyn Botanic Garden: Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, 1915

    Brian Funk

    "In 2015, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden commemorates the centennial anniversary of the Japanese Hill and Pond Garden. The garden, initiated with a gift from philanthropist Alfred T. White (1846-1921), opened to the public on June 6, 1915. Serving as a landmark for the borough of Brooklyn and containing a rather dramatic history, this garden is among the earliest public Japanese gardens in the United States. It is a beloved garden for urbanites trying to escape the clamor of the city. It also is popular as a home to many koi, turtles, ducks, and occasionally, herons."

    San Diego, California: The Japanese Friendship Garden

    Marisa Takeuchi

    "The Japanese Friendship Garden in San Diego, California got its start in a different location at Balboa Park as a tea house for the 1915 Panama California Exposition. Starting several years ago, the garden embarked on a major expansion to increase its size to more than eleven acres by clearing the ravine behind the present garden. Since then, a waterfall and stream have been installed. 'Pink Cloud' and other cherry trees planted in a new grove bloom annually for a festival begun nine years ago...." 

    Hakone Estate and Gardens in Saratoga, CA Celebrate Centennial in 2015

    Lon Saavedra

    "In 1915, San Francisco philanthropists Oliver (1877-1918) and Isabel Stine (1880-1959) purchased land to establish a mountainside retreat for their family, international dignitaries, and friends of the art...The following year, Mrs. Stine sailed to Japan, where she visited various historic gardens...Upon her return to America, Mrs. Stine began work on a Japanese-style country estate and gardens in Saratoga on an eighteen-acre hillside...Hakone is one of the historic crown jewels of the Silicon Valley with a rich history of cultural events and celebrations throughout the past century." 

    Lili'Uokalani Garden in Hilo: A Century-Old Tapestry Woven of Many Threads

    K.T. Cannon-Egers

    "Lili'uokalani Gardens in Hilo, Hawai'i resulted from the collaboration of several women: the Queen after her rule was overthrown, an immigrant Japanese women's society, and a Caucasian whose travels to Japan left her deeply smitten with Japanese gardens... Preparations are being made for the dual centennials in 2017 of the passing of Queen Lili'uokalani and her namesake garden...Hilo is so fortunate to have a living work of art adjacent to the ocean and with a view of the majestic Mauna Kea." 

  • 24 Feb 2015 1:27 PM | NAJGA Communications (Administrator)


    The North American Japanese Garden Association (NAJGA) calls on the two parties involved in the dispute over the Hannah Carter Japanese Garden in Bel-Air, California to exhaust all means possible to avoid embroiling a local social and cultural treasure in a legal confrontation.    

    “As the organization that champions the welfare and future of Japanese gardens in the US and Canada, NAJGA is deeply saddened to see that the final fate of the Hannah Carter Japanese Garden --- long a haven of tranquility in a busy mega-metropolis --- might be decided in the contentious atmosphere of a courtroom,” says NAJGA Executive Director Diana Larowe.  

    “The continued willingness of UCLA and Ms. Hannah Carter’s children to explore an out-of-court settlement gives us great hope that this matter will be resolved in a manner consistent with the spirit of harmony long been imparted by the garden itself,” she adds.

    When the issue came to light in 2012, NAJGA joined the alliance of garden advocates expressing opposition to UCLA’s plan to offer for sale the two-acre property, which houses the more than half-a-century old garden. In a February 2012 letter to UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, the organization expressed particular alarm over the extraction of irreplaceable stone lanterns and other art items by UCLA work crews not properly trained to handle works of art.

    Japanese garden scholar and current NAJGA President Dr. Kendall Brown also pointed out that of the 20 public Japanese gardens featured in his 1999 book “Japanese-Style Gardens of the Pacific West Coast,” only the Hannah Carter Japanese Garden is slated for sale and possible destruction.

    To the contrary, nine of these gardens, including those at the University of British Columbia and California State University-Long Beach, are either being expanded, restored, renovated or master-planned for growth. Brown notes that the formation of NAJGA itself in 2011, with financial support from the Japan Foundation, demonstrates the resurgence of Japanese gardens in public popularity across the US and Canada. 

    An Important Case for All Heritage Japanese Gardens in North America

    Larowe said that the outcome of the dispute over the Hannah Carter Japanese Garden will have repercussions that go beyond the fate of the garden itself. 

    “There are more than 250 public Japanese gardens in the US and Canada. Many of those dating back several decades are facing circumstances not unlike the Hannah Carter Japanese Garden,” she said.  “Aside from being subjected to years of neglect and misplaced judgment, these gardens also face the mounting pressure of urbanization and changing land-use priorities. The Hannah Carter Japanese garden is a test case. Everyone concerned with the fate of heritage Japanese gardens in North America will be watching,” she said.

    Since its launch in 2011, NAJGA has promoted awareness of these historical gardens. It also seeks to help them better serve diverse publics who increasingly seek out these spaces for relaxation, education, and creative engagement.  The 2014 issue of the NAJGA Journal features stories on a handful of 100-year old Japanese gardens in the US. There are fewer than 20 of these centennial gardens despite the 150-year history of Japanese gardens in North America.   

  • 21 Jan 2015 1:33 PM | NAJGA Communications (Administrator)

    Watch this space for upcoming online articles from the 2014 North American Japanese Garden Association Journal. 

  • 09 Sep 2014 11:37 AM | NAJGA Communications (Administrator)

    CHICAGO, ILLINOIS (Sept. 9, 2014) -- All roads lead to Chicago and its Japanese gardens for more than two hundred professionals and enthusiasts from the US, Canada and around the world who are attending the 2014 North American Japanese Garden Association's (NAJGA) biennial conference happening October 16 to 18.  NAJGA, a non-profit organization, promotes the horticulture, business culture and human culture of Japanese gardens across North America.


    The three-day conference, taking place at the Chicago Botanic Garden, features workshops and lectures on Japanese garden design and maintenance, horticulture, garden history, business practices, education and cultural programming, and health and wellness.  Top Japanese garden experts and scholars from North America, as well as from Japan and the United Kingdom, will be in town to lead the sessions. 

    Visit these links for more details: 

    NAJGA Conference Home

    Design and Horticulture

    Health and Wellness

    Garden History

    Business in the Garden

    Education and Cultural Programming

    Presenters and Workshop Instructors

    Conference Registration

    On October 15th,  a special pre-conference, full-day workshop at the Garden of the Phoenix  (formerly Osaka Garden) in Jackson Park, Chicago, will serve as a living laboratory for skills development on moss gardening, aesthetic tree pruning and small stone work for pathways. Registration for the workshop is open to the public with some limits on capacity.  Participants will have the rare opportunity to work in this historic garden originally designed to showcase Japanese culture during the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893. (Photo on the right:

    Also on Wednesday,October 15th, many conference attendees will have the opportunity to visit the Anderson Japanese Gardens and the Rosecrance Japanese Garden in Rockford, Illinois, with the gardens' designer himself, Hoichi Kurisu. (Photo on the right: Anderson Japanese Gardens)

    Twice-honored by the White House for his landscape designs, Kurisu will deliver the keynote address at opening ceremonies on Thursday, October 16th. His remarks will align with the NAJGA Conference theme "New Pathways: The Role of the Japanese Garden for Society and Self" in emphasizing the evolving role of Japanese gardens in modern society, in areas such as medical therapy, holistic wellness and even in healing the natural environment. Three other Kurisu-designed gardens in Oregon and Florida that successfully play up the medical and environmental potential of Japanese gardens will also be presented during the conference. 

    Chicago Botanic Garden's very own Sansho-en, the Elizabeth Hubert Mallott Japanese Garden, will be the focus of an October 16th workshop ("Improvements in the Evolution of a Maturing Garden: Observing Sansho-en With New Eyes") that emphasize the importance of maintenance in the art of the Japanese garden. 

    The workshop team is led by garden designer Sadafumi Uchiyama, curator for the Portland Japanese Garden. He will discuss real issues and potential problems for a maturing Japanese garden.  Uchiyama, who hails from a multi-generational gardening family in Kyushu, Japan, also has strong roots in Illinois, earning his Bachelor and Master degrees in Landscape Architecture from the University of Illinois. 

    Continuing Education for Chicago-area Landscape Designers

    Landscape designers in the Chicago area and elsewhere in USA and Canada who are members of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) can earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs) from selected sessions to comply with their professional certification requirements. 

    Aside from the above-mentioned workshops at the Garden of the Phoenix and Sansho-en, CEUs are also available for two other sessions: an October 18th design workshop ("The Creative Process: How To Find the Big Idea and Create Gardens With Impact") to be conducted by Dr. David Slawson, author of "Secret Teachings in the Art of Japanese Gardens,"  and the October 18th keynote lecture ("The Spirit of the Kyoto Garden Craftsman: Fostering Scenery, Connecting Time and Space") by Dr. Tomoki Kato, the eighth-generation head of one of the oldest and most successful garden design and maintenance companies in Kyoto, Japan. 

    Other design and horticulture-related topics in the conference include updating traditional lighting in the Japanese garden, Sukiya-style architecture, shoji screen design and repair, specimen tree selection and maintenance, and koi husbandry. 

    NAJGA's affiliation with Japanese gardening organizations in Japan and the United Kingdom is also making a wealth of knowledge about Japanese garden history available to conference attendees. Dr. Takahiro Naka, the world's leading scholar on Byodo-in, a UNESCO World Heritage Site near Kyoto, will speak on recent archaeological and restoration efforts for this ancient cultural treasure that has a historical connection to Chicago's Garden of the Phoenix. The original garden, built in 1893, actually included a miniature replica (the Ho-o-den or Phoenix Hall) of the Byodo-in Temple. 

    Click HERE to register for the conference or inquire at, tel (503) 222 1194. On-site and one-day registrations are also available.