Learning About Japanese Gardens In Minnesota – Marcia Meggs, MD

Marcia MeggsNAJGA member Dr. Marcia Meggs (left) of Olympia Fields, Illinois writes about her experience as a participant in the recently concluded NAJGA regional event in Minnesota.      

On August 7 and 8, I attended the NAJGA conference in Minnesota entitled “It’s All in the Details“.  Through this event I had the opportunity to meet prominent landscape designers and garden builders who specialize in Japanese-inspired gardens.  I also had the opportunity to learn basic garden building techniques in intensive workshops led by these individuals.  There were visits made to several gardens created by David Slawson including a private garden owned by the Hoeschler family.

The evening of my arrival, Thursday, I met Kendall and Kuniko Brown who graciously provided me with transportation to the scheduled events.  During our time together, I had the chance to learn more about the history of Japanese gardens from Kuniko and from Ken, one of the leading authorities in the field.

Day #1 of the conference was the “work day” filled with unique opportunities to “get our hands dirty”, and we did!  The workshops were informative, fun and challenging and ranged from learning to build a nobedan pathway, trying our hands at fence building and knot tying, and also learning the correct technique for pruning.  It was great to learn from instructors who are some of the most skilled artisans in their field:  John Powell, Tim Gruner and Mary Bigelow.  Another featured workshop allowed participation in an abbreviated Japanese tea ceremony officiated by David Slawson.

NAJGA MN Gruner heat treats fnce post NAJGA MN attendee prunes NAJGA MN nobedan tutorial NAJGA MN Schrempf teaches knot tieing

NAJGA MN tea garden purification  NAJGA MN entering teahouse NAJGA MN in teahouse Slawson lft

(Top row)  Scenes from the August 7  bamboo-fence making, pruning, nobedan and tobi ishi making workshops. (Bottom row) Scenes from the tea garden session.

The first day was capped off by a special visit to the elegant Hoeschler garden where our gracious hosts opened their home and garden to everyone.  The visit afforded me a glimpse into the sukiya lifestyle and skillfully showed how nature can be seamlessly incorporated into one’s living quarters by utilizing the elements of sukiya living.

Day # 2 was filled with garden tours and was a great experience.  The high point of the day for me was our visit to the Garden of Quiet Listening at Carleton College.  Having viewed the video “Full Circle” numerous times, it was thrilling to visit the actual garden and hear David Slawson’s commentary.  He also provided insight into the importance of garden maintenance and upkeep as we visited a nearby garden in decline.  The juxtaposition of these two gardens proved an invaluable learning experience!

NAJGA MN John P. David Slawson   NAJGA Bridge at Normandale  NAJGA MN Karen S in Hoeschler Garden

(From left) Dr. David Slawson and John Powell in the Garden of Quiet Listening at Carleton College, bridge at the Normandale Japanese Garden, NAJGA member Karen Szyjka at the Hoeschlers’ garden. 

I would like to thank NAJGA for putting together this great event.  I appreciate the hard work which must go into planning such an event, and my time in Minnesota has been inspiring and educational.  I am particularly impressed by the handouts included in our folders which help to emphasize the “take home” points learned during the workshops.  I look forward to attending many more NAJGA sponsored events in the future.

NAJGA MN Workshop 8.7.2015

Attendees to the August 7 workshops at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory

MAJGA MN facilitators Workshop facilitators – (From left, standing) Mayumi Kamoshita, Mary Bigelow, Justin Blackwell, Thom Gerst, Ben Schref, John Powell, Nick Esthus, Scott Solomonson, Tim Gruner (Seated) Don Meiners, Hiro Kamoshita.  

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Learning About Japanese Gardens In Minnesota – Marcia Meggs, MD