A garden haven for people with memory loss

AURORA – A garden that will be open to the public but designed for those affected by memory loss is being donated to the Aurora Public Library through the library’s foundation by the family of Dr. M. Jack and Elaine Parker, formerly of Aurora.

Elaine Parker was a noted educator who was suffering from dementia when she died in June, 2012. Jack Parker, who died in March, 2012, was her husband for 60 years and took on the role of providing 24-hour care for Elaine in her later years so they could remain living independently in their home.

“As a culture, we’ve learned to accommodate physical disabilities with elements like curb ramps, elevators and text-to-speech capability on computers, but we can’t seem to bring ourselves to make environmental improvements to accommodate dementia,” said the couple’s elder son, J. Scott Parker of Portland, Oregon.

The Parker Garden, which will be located on the west side of the Richard and Gina Santori Public Library of Aurora (currently under construction on the southwest corner of River and Benton streets), will offer a safe haven for people with memory loss and their caregivers. The library is scheduled to open in May, 2015.

via ‘Parker Garden’ latest philanthropic addition to Santori Library – chicagotribune.com.

A world-class Japanese Garden in the Irish homeland

The Irish National Stud’s Japanese Gardens were created between 1906 and 1910 by Colonel William Hall Walker, a wealthy Scotsman from a famous brewing family with the help of Japanese master horticulturist Tassa Eida and his son Minoru. Through trees, plants, flowers, lawns, rocks and water, the gardens aim to symbolize the “Life of Man”. That plan was executed to perfection and Eida’s legacy is now admired by the 150,000 visitors who soak up the peace of the gardens every year.Very much representative of JIrish National StudVery much representative of Japanese gardens from the early 20th century, Eida’s work traces the journey of a soul from oblivion to eternity and portrays the human experience of its embodiment as it journeys by paths of its own choice through life. Birth, childhood, marriage, parenthood, old age, death and the afterlife are all brought to mind as the gardens, a seamless mixture of Eastern and Western cultures, are explored.

Eida left Tully in 1912 with 34 years passing before the gardens gained their next supervisor, Patrick Doyle, who remained in charge until 1972, since when the gardens have continued to flourish and surge in popularity.

Among the most loved of all Ireland’s gardens, the Irish National Stud’s Japanese Gardens are a veritable feast for the eye and ear with the sight and sound of trickling streams perfectly complementing the greenery and vivid colours that provide a tranquil backdrop to the beautiful Bridge of Life and Tea House.

Irish National Stud

The Japanese Gardens are a place for contemplation, meditation and reflection. Since they were first enjoyed more than 100 years ago, they have never failed to please.

via Visitors – Attractions – Europe’s Finest Japanese Gardens – Irish National Stud.

Meet Shunmyo Masuno, Zen priest and modern garden designer

Masuno gardenZen Buddhist priest Shunmyo Masuno of the Kenkoh-ji Temple in Yokohama is the man behind some of the most breathtaking modern gardens  in urban Japan. He is also the last active garden designer in his order.

Video: The Zen Gardens of Shunmyo Masuno

Masuno is bringing the spirit of the traditional Japanese garden into the hectic world of the modern Japanese.

Masuno: “The fact that time is moving faster means that it is getting more and more difficult for people to take control of time, or even just to take time off and relax. And it is precisely this dilemma which led to the demand for gardens today to be sanctuaries of contemplation, where one feels embraced by nature. In essence, gardens which provide people with peace of mind, a sense of stability and a feeling of contentment. It’s no longer enough to merely provide a green zone here, or an occasional floral embellishment to a skyscraper there. What we need today are gardens that can reach deep into people’s hearts.”  

He brings traditional garden design precepts into the scope of the modern landscape architect.

Masuno: “Fundamental to Japanese garden design is the belief that all things in nature, be they stones or mountains have life and we must honor these lives that exist beyond ourselves so every single, independent characteristic of the thing considered must be discovered, brought out and reawakened to life. A landscape architect must attempt to identify this special character of a given object and honor its worthiness by assigning the exactly appropriate role to play, so in a Japanese garden, crooked or curved trees are viewed as equally valid, as are stones which symbolize movement. We honor the heart of the natural object.” 

Garden-making for Masuno is an intensely personal exercise.

Masuno: “There is a Zen proverb that says if a poisonous snake drinks water, it is changed to poison. If a cow drinks water, it is changed to milk. That means that it is up to me whether the same water I drink is changed into poison or into milk. If my heart is not addressed, I can’t just create beautiful gardens full of spirituality. Therefore, such gardens are also a mirror of myself. They are myself.” 

 

Gardens eased Japanese Americans’ WWII internment experience

During their World War II internment, Japanese Americans created gardens to improve their prison-like surroundings, using whatever materials they could find.

Manzanar National Historic Site in California was established to protect and interpret historical and cultural resources associated with the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. The site recently completed preservation work at two of its dozens of Japanese gardens with the help of US and Japanese volunteers . Both the Block 12 Mess Hall Garden and the Arai Family Fish Pond in Block 33 provide visitors with a glimpse of how some of the 11,000 Japanese Americans coped with their confinement during World War II. Visitors can see both gardens via short walks from the auto tour road.

Like other gardens at Manzanar, the Block 12 mess hall garden illustrates many traditional characteristics of Japanese gardens, with features representing a mountain, a stream, waterfalls and cascades, and crane and tortoise rocks. The Arai pond featured a stream, rock borders, three islands, a fish tunnel, and even water lilies. It was a “place of beauty and serenity,” according to Madelon Arai Yamamoto, the daughter of the pond’s creator.

Garden preservation and restoration is an important part of meeting the Site’s mission, but most of the gardens at Manzanar had been long abandoned, buried, and forgotten. Preservation work included removal of invasive vegetation, archeological excavation and mapping, cleaning and repair of damaged concrete, resetting of displaced rocks, and, in some cases, reconstruction of damaged or missing features.

In the summer of 2013, disastrous flooding reversed much of the stabilization work that had already been completed. Manzanar’s historic preservation specialist John Kepford noted that the labor contributed by volunteers was critical to overcoming not only the slow deterioration and burial caused by decades of abandonment, but also the rapid damage caused by the recent floods. Thanks to the volunteers, Kepford remarked, “the gardens can now help tell the story of the resiliency of Japanese Americans during their internment.”

According to Professor Kendall Brown of California State University Long Beach, the Japanese gardens at Manzanar are noteworthy because they were created during World War II, when resources were scarce and when anti-Japanese sentiment was at an all-time high. Even more remarkable, Dr. Brown says, is that “this is garden art of a very high order … Arguably this is the most interesting, compelling collection of Japanese gardens in America.”

Ten Japanese gardens at Manzanar have been documented and stabilized to date, but more await archeological investigation and preservation. Volunteer opportunities are posted on the Manzanar website as they become available.

The Manzanar Visitor Center features extensive exhibits, audio-visual programs, and a bookstore. It is open 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. Manzanar is located at 5001 Hwy. 395, six miles south of Independence, California. For more information, please call (760) 878-2194 or visit our website at HYPERLINK “http://www.nps.gov/manz”nps.gov/manz.

via Gardens that softened life of imprisonment restored | Sierra Wave: Eastern Sierra News.

Huntington to expand Chinese Garden

Photo: Huntington.org

Spring seems only around the corner at Liu Fang Yuan, or the Garden of Flowing Fragrance, at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino. Delicate pink cherry blossoms have begun to appear on trees, and dappled sunlight warms the stone walkways.

There are other changes in the air at the Chinese Garden, as it is more informally known. Workers are putting finishing touches on new pavilions, walkways and landscaping as the newest garden in the Huntington’s collection of more than a dozen readies its first expansion since its 2008 opening.

On March 8 (March 7 for members), the Chinese Garden premieres three major new architectural elements as part of its second-phase expansion: two pavilions and a rock grotto with a waterfall that visitors can walk under. Still to come for the planned 12-acre site are a small gallery for Chinese art, a hillside pavilion and a penjing (a style of horticulture similar to Japanese bonsai) court. About half the $22 million needed to complete the project has been raised so far.

via Chinese Garden expansion at the Huntington includes new pavilions – latimes.com.