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 “”

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

Huntington to expand Chinese Garden


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 –

Seattle Japanese Garden opens on March 1

Parkways » Seattle Japanese Garden celebrates Opening Day First Viewing

The Seattle Japanese Garden’s 2014 season opens on Saturday, March 1 with a celebration from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. To ensure a wonderful season, Reverend Koichi Barrish of the Tsubaki Grand Shrine will honor the Japanese Garden with the traditional Shinto blessing at noon.

This 3 ½ acre formal garden evokes another time and place, a unique and artistic representation of nature influenced by Shinto, Buddhist, and Tao philosophies. Designed and built under the supervision of world-renowned Japanese garden designer Juko Iida in 1960, the garden is a quiet place, allowing reflection and meditation through the careful placement of water, garden plants, stones, waterfalls, trees and bridges.

Admission fees for First Viewing are: $10 for adults 18-64, $5 for youths 6–17, senior adults 65+, college students with ID, and people with disabilities, and free for kids younger than 6.

For free, the community is invited to enjoy the opening of a beautiful new photography exhibit “A Celebration of Spring”  from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Tateuchi Community Room.  The juried show also on March 1 celebrates nine photographers and their fantastic views of the Garden from a spring workshop in 2013.

The Japanese Garden offers monthly tea presentations and demonstration at the Tea House and other great community events during the March -November season when it is open to the public.

via Parkways » Seattle Japanese Garden celebrates Opening Day First Viewing.

Recommended reading: “The Gardener of Versailles” by Alain Baraton

Versailles head gardener and TV host Baraton reflects on his three decades tending some of the most beautiful gardens in the world.

Simply but thoroughly, the author narrates the history of Versailles, from the days of Henry IV sneaking off to these woods to hunt to the days of the revolution. The most surprising element is the speed with which an estate of such size was built. The gardens, on the other hand, sprung from the guiding hand of Louis XIV’s gardener, André Le Nôtre, but then took their own sweet time to flourish. Baraton importantly points out how people rush about on the Rue de Rivoli and other parts of Paris but then slow to a snail’s pace when they walk through gardens at Versailles. Gardens reach into your soul, writes the author, whether you plant them, harvest them or simply enjoy them. The author philosophizes about the ability of gardens to provide space for deep reflection, and he writes poetically about the beautiful power of the grounds he tends. He also provides some practical advice—e.g., the best places for a lovers’ tryst. The building and maintenance of the world’s grandest garden took the efforts and perspectives of a wide variety of great royal gardeners, including Claude Mollet and Jacques Boyceau, as well as builders like Louis Le Vau and Charles Le Brun. In addition to paying tribute to the work of these innovators, Baraton also looks at the various films that have been filmed on the grounds, storms that have battered them, and the effects of each season on the flora and fauna.

The descriptions of the various sites on the grounds could only come from a man fortunate enough to have lived on and loved the site for almost 40 years.

via THE GARDENER OF VERSAILLES by Alain Baraton, Christopher Brent Murray | Kirkus.

A Japanese garden in Corvallis, Oregon



The world-famous Portland Japanese Garden is but the start of a North American Asian garden exploration in the Pacific Northwest. The area, so like Japan in climate and horticulture, is teeming with many hidden gems like the “Garden of Gentle Breeze,” a private haven located in the university town of Corvallis, Oregon.





From the website: “Garden of Gentle Breeze is a green oasis  crisscrossed by footpaths, three gentle  ponds with the soothing sounds of small waterfalls. The large boulders and stones  help us to feel grounded in the earth while above us and around us stand the towering firs, flowering shrubs and plants, all carefully placed to create a sanctuary of tranquility.The garden is a place of harmony that integrates the four elements–earth, air, water, and fire–and achieves a balance between Yin and Yang. As a wedding venue, it is a perfect place to begin one’s life journey with the one you love and a place that you can return to again and again for inspiration, rekindling fond memories and renewing your vows as the years go by.  Family and invited guests will always remember what a special and beautiful day they spent being part of your wedding.  They too can return to visit the gardens whenever they feel the need to relax and rejuvenate.”

via Garden of Gentle Breeze | Corvallis Japanese Garden in Oregon.

Stanford’s New Guinea Sculpture Garden celebrates 20 years

In 1994, ten master carvers were flown in from Papua New Guinea by anthropology department graduate student Jim Mason, and asked to engage their remarkably otherworldly work with one of our natural California landscapes. Over the course of their four month residency they created the sinuous carvings you can still see today in the aptly named Stanford New Guinea Sculpture Garden.

via Stanford’s New Guinea Scuplture Garden Celebrates 20 Years – Foliage Finder – Curbed SF.

New botanic garden to rise in the Isle of Man

Planners have approved applications for a ‘botanical garden of global standing and worthy recognition’ in Santon.

Mark Shuttleworth, the first South African in space and multi-millionaire founder of the Ubuntu computer operating system, is the brainchild behind the project.

And the garden can be created within about 71 acres of land that he owns in Ballavale Road, subject to a number of planning conditions.

In the design statement submitted with the applications (13/00830/B), (13/00831/B), (13/00832/B) and (13/00834/B) it stated: ‘The intention is to create an estate, and associated buildings, that will contribute significantly to the island’s heritage, creating a botanical garden of global standing and worthy recognition.’

When open to the public, the plan is for the gardens to be presented in a manner to inform and educate visitors in a relaxed environment’

Wildlife and biodiversity are considered to be intrinsic elements of the masterplan.

As much of the existing mature vegetation as possible will be retained, and will be enhanced by additional planting schemes specifically designed to conserve and encourage the growth of local planting species, attract wildlife and encourage biodiversity.

There will be wetlands, a glen, a meadow orchard, Japanese garden, gardeners’ compound, sensory garden, water cascade and a walled garden.

A large production house will enable a substantial and constant seasonal supply of plants and flowers’ to be grown.

A sensory garden will be developed in close collaboration with a number of charities including the Manx Blind Welfare Society and Rebecca House children’s hospice.

And an amphitheatre will provide an outdoor stage for theatrical performances and educational presentations.

via Plan to create botanic garden ‘of global standing’ – Isle of Man Today.