I had the pleasure recently of attending two regional NAJGA events, one in Oakland, California in July (Pruning in the Context of Shizen) and another in Hilo, Hawaii in September (Discover Japanese Gardening with the Aloha Spirit). The Oakland event was convenient as I live nearby. It was my first NAJGA event (co-hosted with the local Aesthetic Pruning Association). I enjoyed the day-long workshops and tours of local residential Japanese gardens so much that I immediately planned to participate in the Hilo program, which was held adjacent to the 100-year old Japanese Lili’uokalani Garden.
The long weekends of each program provided ample time for socializing with colleagues and presenters as the number of participants was small and everyone friendly. Both events were better than expected. The workshop demonstrations were given by professional gardeners from Japan or very experienced Japan-trained gardeners, who welcomed questions and were happy to share their techniques for pruning and in the case of Hilo, their rock selection and placement methods. In Hawaii we toured a few private residential gardens including a tea plantation, had a tea tasting, took in the active Kilauea Crater over dinner on the rim, and learned of the history of the Lili’uokalani Garden and about what grows in tropical climates from long-time nursery men and landscape professionals on the island.
Through these excellent programs I have met like-minded passionate folks who generously shared their craft. I came home energized and very happy to be a professional gardener.