Manzanar’s Japanese Gardens – Excerpts from the 2014-2015 NAJGA Journal

Creating Beauty Behind Barbed Wire by Jeff Burton and Mary Farrell

Manzanar 2

“A desolate prison camp in the high desert seems an unlikely place for a Japanese garden contest, let alone an outstanding collection of Japanese gardens. World War II would seem an unlikely time for Japanese Americans to assert their Japanese heritage. Yet the Japanese Americans incarcerated at the Manzanar Relocation Center, now Manzanar National Historic Site, left a legacy of beauty, resistance, and resilience in Japanese gardens.

The incarceration of almost 120,000 Japanese-Americans — most American citizens — by the US government during World War II is one of the most shameful stories in American history. The “Relocation” removed persons of Japanese ancestry from their homes, schools, and businesses on the West Coast and placed mostly behind barbed wire. Manzanar opened in March 1942 — one of ten camps — to incarcerate more than 10,000 people.

Although this episode managed to stay out of US history books for decades, it has come to light through the efforts of the Japanese-American community, civil rights advocates, historians and archaeologists.

Three of these sites are now part of the National Park Service, which is charged with educating the public to prevent similar government-sponsored racism…..”

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On the Purpose & Role of Japanese Gardens in American Internment Camps by Seiko Goto, Ph.D.

Manzanar garden 1

“Multiple Japanese gardens were built in all ten internment camps. Japanese gardens in Manzanar Relocation Center have been called “Momoyama-style gardens,” and summarized as an “important means for the expression of Japanese American cultural values within the regimented organization of the camp.” The question arises: why would internees facing such hardship due to their nationality decide to build gardens to express their culture? It is thus important to analyze the purpose and role of Japanese gardens in the internment camp to assess their value….

….Internment is generally the confinement of people done by a government to police people and confiscate their assets. Japanese internment in the United States, however, was unique in that these camps confined people with American citizenship based only on their ethnic background. The camp gardens were also for viewing and living, not solely for food production…

…Conditions and facilities in the camps varied. Administrators in Gila River, Granada, Manzanar, and Topaz supported garden construction and large scale gardens were made in these camps. Small ornamental Japanese gardens, however, were made in all. Poston is notable as the famous Japanese American sculptor Isamu Noguchi became the chief landscape planner…”

Read the full version of these articles in the 2014-2015 NAJGA Journal. The Journal is free to members of the North American Japanese Garden Association. To order additional copies or to order as a non-member, click HERE

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Manzanar’s Japanese Gardens – Excerpts from the 2014-2015 NAJGA Journal

“The Charm and Challenges of Garden Ponds” – Excerpts from the 2014-2015 NAJGA Journal

“The following articles include techniques for improving water quality, restoring shorelines and aquatic plants, adding to hardscape, repairing leaks, maintaining historic sensibility, and choosing the right construction materials.”

Water Quality Management in the Japanese Garden at Missouri Botanical Garden by Benjamin Chu

Missouri_Botanical_Garden_-_Seiwa-en

“Seiwa-en, the Japanese garden at Missouri Botanical Garden, has as its central focus, a four- and-a-half acre lake. The lake is an open system with a 113 acre watershed and an average depth of eleven feet. Given the area of the watershed, much of what enters the lake is of questionable quality, containing nutrient runoff from the surrounding landscape, the neighboring park, and oil and gas from the network of streets and paths….

Twenty-five years ago, we abandoned the traditional copper sulphate method of algae control…Our current management practice takes a more holistic approach using aeration , bio augmentation and algae elimination.”

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Shoreline Rejuvenation at the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Sansho-en by Robert Kirschner

Chicago Botanic Garden

“Scenic water vistas and diverse aquatic habitat are defining landscape elements throughout the Chicago Botanic Garden’s sixty-acre system of interconnected lakes. Beginning in 1999, the garden engaged in a systematic rejuvenation of its 5.7 miles of lake shoreline using innovative bioengineering techniques. These approaches rely heavily on dense stands of native vegetation to control erosion of fragile lakeshore soils, establish ecological diverse communities of native shoreline plants, enhance wildlife habitat, and demonstrate to visitors the importance of healthy lake ecosystems. To date, 4.5 miles (79%) of the garden’s lakeshore have been rejuvenated using 500,000 native shoreline plants. ”

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Shofuso Garden: Reclaimed from Tropical Storm Damage by Kim Andrews

Shofuso_Japanese_House_and_Garden

“In 2012, Friends of the Japanese House and Garden (FJHG) conducted a historic landscape restoration at the 1.2 acre Shofuso Japanese House and Garden in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to reinforce and restructure the pond banks and rebuild the hardscape that surrounds the pond. FJHG committed to using the 1957 garden plan by landscape architect Tansai Sano (also known as Uejyu Sano Taichiro, 1897-1966) as our guide. Sano’s 1957 garden at Shofuso was the first significant Japanese garden created in America after World War II and Shofuso’s garden is at the site of the first Japanese garden in North America in 1876.

During Tropical Storm Lee in September 2011, a collapsed storm drain inundated the pond with water, washing away some koi, damaging garden plantings like the specimen red pine on the island, and further deteriorating the pond banks and hardscape. A landscape and pond bank restoration was even more urgent.”

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At Hillwood Estate, Restoring & Preserving A Vision From the Past by Frances K. Vandenbroucke

Hillwood_Estate_10

“When Post Cereal heiress and General Foods founder Marjorie Merriwether Post (1887-1973) bought the Arbremont estate in northwest Washington, D.C. in 1955, she renamed it Hillwood and set about remaking the house and grounds….The task of transforming this space into a place of drama fell to Japanese-American landscape architect Shogo Myaida (1897-1988), from Long Island, New York….

After forty years, the Japanese-style garden was facing a multitude of problems. In 1996, a report by a Hillwood maintenance engineer described the breakdown of electrical and plumbing systems, with massive water leakage from all falls and pool areas. By 1999, daily water loss averaged 2,000 gallons from a pond that held approximately 10,000 gallons overall. Plantings were overgrown, many had died, and replacements were frequently not in keeping with Myaida’s design. Piecemeal repairs were no longer adequate; clearly a major intervention was necessary to avert catastrophic failure.

….The decision was made to restore the Japanese-style garden to Myaida’s design….On April 2, 2001, the fully restored Japanese-style garden opened to the public.”

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Restoring the Taniguchi’s Flowing Water in Austin, Texas by Ed Parken 

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“As one enters the Taniguchi Japanese Garden, built on a rocky hillside at Zilker Botanical Garden in Austin, Texas, knowing its story is crucial for understanding and appreciating why it is one of Austin’s most treasured assets…..This three-acre tract of land was transformed into a peaceful, strolling garden by Isamu Taniguchi (1897-1992), a former California fruit farmer who was interned in World War II in Texas…

….The garden features a series of ponds and two of them spell out the word “AUSTIN” when viewed from above — an ideogram reflecting that this garden was a gift to the city of Austin. The first is the AU pond and the second is the STIN pond.

By 2010, there were severe leaks in both the ponds and the streams that connect them. The leaks wasted water, caused erosion, and required an inordinate amount of maintenance from the PARD (Parks and Recreation Department) staff. A three-phase project was initiated to provide a solution to the leaks….”

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Anderson Japanese Gardens’ Cold Weather Challenge by Tim Gruner

Anderson_Gardens pond

“The Garden of Reflection pond at Anderson Japanese Gardens was built in 1999 on a site that was designed for large public gatherings. The pond covers approximately 20,000 square feet with a maximum depth of nine feet.

Many people are surprised to learn that the pond is lined with a three-inch layer of blacktop, also known as hot mix asphalt (HMA). As unusual as this may sound, HMA has been utilized for decades to line reservoirs used for retention of drinking water supplies and fish-rearing ponds. Initial concerns of toxic leachate that would be detrimental to aquatic life were unfounded; research has shown that once cured, asphalt is very stable, with virtually no toxic leaching into water systems.”

Read the full version of these articles in the 2014-2015 NAJGA Journal. The Journal is free to members of the North American Japanese Garden Association. To order additional copies or to order as a non-member, click HERE

“The Charm and Challenges of Garden Ponds” – Excerpts from the 2014-2015 NAJGA Journal

“Cherry Diplomacy” in US-Japan Relations

(The following passages are excerpts from the book “Japanese Flowering Cherries” by Wybe Kuitert)

David_Fairchild
David Fairchild

 American garden lovers were given a first-hand look at the art of Japanese gardening at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri, where Japan exhibited an extensive garden in the native style. Two years later, a historically important shipment of a hundred cherries, dispatched by the Yokohama Nursery Company, reached the United States. The order was made by David Fairchild (1869-1954), an administrator with the US Department of Agriculture in Washington D.C. The imported trees were successfully planted on the spacious grounds of his private estate.

Encouraged by this undertaking, Fairchild and his wife, Marian, decided to organize a planting of cherries on Arbor Day. Again, cherries were ordered from the Yokohama Nursery Company. The trees were shipped to Seattle on the West Coast and then traveled by rail across the United States without any problem. On Arbor Day in March 1908, each public school in Washington D.C. received its Japanese cherry. Trees were planted in the school yards, which attracted the attention of Mrs. William Taft, wife of the U.S. president.

Washington_C_D.C._Tidal_Basin_cherry_treesThe First Lady had visited Japan with her husband, who had successfully concluded an important treaty with Japan in 1905. She developed an appreciation for the beauty of flowering cherries and began to include the idea for a mass planting of Japanese cherries in her plans for developing Potomac Park. Mrs. Taft was supported in this endeavor by Fairchild and Eliza Skidmore, a journalist who wrote about Japan. In April 1909, ninety trees of “Fugenzo” were purchased from an American nursery. Then, in the summer of that year, it became clear that the city of Tokyo wanted to donate two thousand cherries for the Potomac Park. It is striking how eagerly Japanese officials reacted. In November of the same year, Tokyo shipped two thousand large trees of ten varieties to Washington. That a gift of the country’s flower with such a profound emotional meaning could be made to a great Western power was without doubt enthusiastically welcomed by any Japanese cooperating in the donation.

In the meantime, in the United States, the increasing import of plant material had aroused a growing concern, and the US Department of Agriculture began inspecting imported plants for insect pests and diseases. The shipment from Tokyo proved to be severely infested. With great diplomatic sensitivity, the Japanese side was informed that no other measures could be taken than to burn the trees. It was a matter of regret for both parties.

PrunusYedoensisIn Tokyo, a second shipment of trees was prepared. Funatsu helped select new planting material from the banks of Arakawa. Trees were grafted and trained by the Agricultural Experiment Station of the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture. Thoroughly fumigated with hydrocyanic acid gas, the shipment of six thousand young trees arrived in Seattle in January 1912 and passed severe inspections without any problem. Three thousand trees were meant as a donation for New York. The other half of the shipment went to Washington D. C. In Potomac Park, thousands of specimens of Prunus x yedoensis were planted along the Tidal Basin, and eventually, this plant became known as the “Potomac cherry.” On the peninsula farther south, two thousand fragrant and double cherries of the following varieties were planted: ‘Ariake,’ ‘Fugenzo,’ Fukurokuju,’ the green ‘Gyoiko,”Ichiyo,’ ‘Jonioi,’ ‘Kanzan,”Mirukuma-gaeshi,’ ‘Shirayuki,”Surugadai-nioi,’ and ‘Taki-nioi.’

In the United States, a general appreciation of Japanese flowering cherries developed from a friendship between the countries that was profoundly felt in the early twentieth century. Of all the countries in the world, only the United States had a Potomac Park as a show garden for cherries on a scale that resembled the best of the cherry picnic places in Japan. Every spring, the Park revived, and continues to revive a nationwide awareness of the cherries.

Read the rest of the book here: “Japanese Flowering Cherries,” Kuitert, W., Peterse, A.H. , 1999, Timber Press, Inc.

“Cherry Diplomacy” in US-Japan Relations

“Centennial Gardens”: Excerpts from the 2014-2015 NAJGA Journal

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

Huntington Japanese Garden Book“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.”

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Maymont: A Victorian Estate’s Japanese Garden, 1912                                                   Carla Murray

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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.”

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

BBGJapaneseHillPondGarden“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.”

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San Diego, California: The Japanese Friendship GardenJapanese_Friendship_Garden_Path_koi_pond_1
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….”

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

Hakone_Gardens,_Saratoga,_CA_-_IMG_9196“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.”

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Lili’uokalani Garden in Hilo: A Century-Old Tapestry Woven of Many Threads liliuokalanigarden             By K.T. Cannon-Eger

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.”

The 2014-2015 NAJGA Journal is free to members of the North American Japanese Garden Association. To order additional copies or to order as a non-member, click HERE.

“Centennial Gardens”: Excerpts from the 2014-2015 NAJGA Journal