North American Japanese Garden Association & Descanso Gardens Host Southern California Symposium and Garden Tour

2-day Event To Celebrate 50-Year Anniversary of Japanese Garden in Descanso  and Features Five Asian Gardens in Southern California

Descanso Gardens, La Canada Flintridge, CA – On January 14 and 15, 2017, experts in horticulture, history and design will discuss and illustrate the Southern California experience in Japanese gardening during a symposium and garden tour organized by the North American Japanese Garden Association (NAJGA), in cooperation with the Descanso Gardens. NAJGA is a non-profit and membership-based organization that promotes the art, craft and heart of Japanese gardening in USA and Canada.

The symposium on January 14 will commence with an indoor art tour on the concept of the Japanese garden, with a special focus on the social history of Descanso’s Japanese garden, which is commemorating its half-century existence. The influence of mid-century Japanism on the integration of gardens and architecture in Southern California and the compelling human story of Japanese plants in California will be the focus of a couple of lectures by Japanese garden historian Dr. Kendall Brown and Japanese-American garden writer Naomi Hirahara. Later in the day, Dr. Brown and Descanso Gardens Executive Director David Brown will also conduct a guided tour of the Descanso Japanese garden.
Japanese horticulturist and ikebana expert Kaz Kitajima will lead a workshop on the basic principles and techniques in black pine pruning. A camellia forest walk and tour will showcase Descanso’s exceptional camellia collection, the largest in North America and designated as an International Camellia Garden of Excellence by the International Camellia Society.

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Japanese Garden at the Descanso Gardens, La Canada Flintridge, CA

On January 15, an expert-led garden tour will take participants to three important Japanese gardens and a new Chinese garden in the Los Angeles county area. Aside from illustrating the quality and diversity of garden design in California, the Storrier-Stearns Japanese Garden in Pasadena, and the SuiHoen (Garden of Water and Fragrance) at the Tillman Reclamation Plant in Van Nuys are also notable for their sustainable water use in the face of California’s challenging water situation in recent years. At over 100 years old, the Japanese garden at The Huntington in Pasadena is famously one of the oldest gardens in North America and is still evolving. Participants will also have the chance to visit the new Chinese garden at The Huntington.

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Created in the 1930’s, the Storrier-Stearns Japanese Garden was restored in 2013 and is considered one of the best examples of pre-war Japanese gardens outside of Japan.
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Bonsai Court at the Japanese Garden in The Huntington, Pasadena, CA
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SuiHoen (Garden of Water and Fragrance) at the Tillman Reclamation Plant, Van Nuys, CA

“The Japanese gardens in southern California are true cultural and horticultural treasures, as they honor the history of Japanese-Americans in the area as well as the California ethos of innovation, sustainability and love of the outdoors,” says NAJGA board president Kimberly Andrews. “NAJGA is delighted to have the opportunity to work with Descanso Gardens, which is observing a significant milestone with its Japanese garden, and our other member gardens to promote our mission among garden professionals and enthusiasts in the Southern California area.”

For more details and to register, visit http://najga.org/Southern-California-2017. This two-day regional event is accredited as a continuing education program for members of the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) and the Association of Professional Landscape Professionals (APLD). Garden practitioners may check with their professional associations if this event is eligible for continuing education units.

nalp-landscape-industry-certified-ceu-approved-logo-2016     apld-kfd

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North American Japanese Garden Association & Descanso Gardens Host Southern California Symposium and Garden Tour

A Japanese Garden Experience in Manitoga

The renowned Scottish landscape architect and ecological planning pioneer Ian McHarg was once quoted as saying that if Manitoga was built in Japan, it would have been a “national monument.” “Japan has many such sites, but the United States has only Manitoga, the temple to managed succession, inspired ecological design.”

Manitoga in Garrison, New York  has since achieved that distinction and more. It is a National Historic Landmark, an Affiliate Site of the National Trust for Historic Conservation and a World Monuments Watch Site.  Officially known as the Manitoga/ The Russell Wright Design Center, it is a place still strongly animated by the vision of its original owner and creator, Midcentury modern designer Russell Wright whose work was strongly influenced by Japanese aesthetics, not least in the way he conceptualized his home / studio (Dragon Rock) and the woodland garden around it.

Wright’s Japanese connection apparently runs deeper than is commonly thought.  He also contributed to the cross-fertilization of American and Japanese sensibilities in Modernist aesthetics by serving as an adviser to the post-World War II Japanese government on handcraft design that would resonate with the US export market, according to Japanese Modernist design scholar Yuko Kikuchi.

In Manitoga, which Wright considers as a pinnacle of his career, the Japanese touch is everywhere evident and seamlessly integrated into his nature-centered instinct for design and even his taste for theatrics as a former theater set designer.  Dragon Rock is said to be reminiscent of Japanese temple architecture, as executed by architect David L. Leavitt with whom Wright shares a fondness for Japanese design. Leavitt has worked in Japan with the architect Antonin Raymond whose students include the Japanese architect Junzo Yoshimura, creator of the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden in Philadelphia and the traditional teahouse at the Japanese garden in Kykuit, the Rockefeller Estate, Tarrytown, New York.

While Dragon Rock has often been compared to the famous Fallingwater house of architect Frank Lloyd Wright (no relation), it seems to fall back more into the landscape, despite a name that’s evocative of a far more conspicuous presence.  From the green roofs — revolutionary for a structure built in the early 1950s — to the floor-to-ceiling windows and the tree trunk and natural boulders that define the interiors of the space, Wright was intent on blurring the boundaries between the outdoor and indoor spaces and synthesizing the natural with the man-made, a design sentiment that is also characteristically Japanese.  The name of the house itself, derived from the innocent fancy of Wright’s young daughter Annie who imagined a dragon shape in the rock formation, recalls the convention for naming rocks in a Japanese garden for mythical animals.

The great outdoors that Wright and Leavitt sought to bring in through this organic architecture is a 75-acre expanse that simultaneously evokes the experience of a stroll garden from Japan’s Edo Period (1603 – 1867) and taps into Wright’s penchant for drama as a former stage designer. Even as the house maximizes the view outside, the forest garden is also meant to be journeyed into.

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Autumn in Manitoga

Here, the Japanese garden design principle of miegakure (hide and reveal) also becomes a device in Wright’s nature theater for building up a dramatic effect as one traverses through the path of the woodland garden.

Along each path, the landscape and its themes unfold sequentially. There is an introduction, a dramatic build-up, elaboration of a theme, and then a climax or a goal; the building of tension and its dramatic release – the whole design a musical composition.”     

A rock in the middle of the driveway, for example, slows movement and forces contemplation of the immediate surroundings. The sound of an unseen water feature at an entrance builds anticipation.

This theatricality also plays into the notion of a Japanese garden as an idealized re-creation or distillation of nature.  Landscape architect and Wright’s cousin Carol Franklin notes Wright’s manipulation of naturally occurring elements, particularly native plant species, to create the moments of denouement in the garden: a moss garden on top of the quarry pond, masses of mountain laurels and dogwoods in bloom, a fiery corridor of backlit autumn foliage.  Design historian D.J. Huppatz also speculated about Wright’s use of “borrowed scenery” (shakkei) to provide points of interest along the walking paths.

And then, there are the rocks. In the course of the 35 years since first acquiring the property as an abandoned granite quarry in 1942, Wright bided his time studying and working with the natural rock formations in the area to distill its essence as a “place of great spirit” (the English translation of “Manitoga,” an Algonquin word). A mountain stream was diverted and a 30-foot, multi-level waterfall created to form a swimming pond. There are also a variety of rock groupings and stepping stone paths found all over the property.  These rocks, ancient as they are in these parts, found a new purpose in the nexus of the natural and built environment in Manitoga.

Manitoga is part of the Garden Architecture Tour on October 7, 2016 co-hosted by the North American Japanese Garden Association and the Japan American Society of Greater Philadelphia. The tour is part of a two-day event on October 7 and 8, “Modernism, Japanese Carpentry and the Garden: Preserving the Architecture of Junzo Yoshimura.” For details and to register, visit http://najga.org/Philadelphia-2016


SOURCES:

Brown, Jane Roy, “Learning From Dragon Rock,” Landscape Architecture, Sept. 2005, https://www.asla.org/lamag/lam05/September/ecology.html 

Hobens, Barbara, “Philipstown Gardens: Inspirations from Manitoga,” The Highlands Current, April 2, 2011, http://highlandscurrent.com/2011/04/02/philipstown-gardens-4/

Huppatz, D.J., “Manitoga and Japan” http://djhuppatz.blogspot.com/2010/03/manitoga-and-japan.html

Kikuchi, Yuko, “Russell Wright and Japan: Bridging Japonisme and Good Design Through Craft,” The Journal of Modern Craft, Vol. 1 2008, Issue 3  http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.2752/174967808X379434?journalCode=rfmc20

Mendelsohn, Meredith, “Manitoga: Force of Nature,” Garden Design Magazine  http://www.gardendesign.com/new-york/garrison-manitoga.html

www.visitmanitoga.org

A Japanese Garden Experience in Manitoga

North American Japanese Garden Association To Host Philadelphia & New York Heritage Tour & Workshop

Two-Day Event Focus On Modernist and Traditional Japanese Design In the Garden

Philadelphia, PA – On October 7 and 8, the North American Japanese Garden Association (NAJGA) is teaming up with the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia (JASGP) to explore the adaptation and preservation of Modernist and traditional Japanese design in several garden settings found in New York and Philadelphia. NAJGA is a non-profit that promotes the art, craft and heart of Japanese gardens in USA and Canada.

The coach heritage tour on October 7 will feature prime examples of Japanese and Mid-century modern architecture in two garden estates: Kykuit at the Rockefeller estate in Tarrytown, New York with its century-old Japanese garden, and the Manitoga / The Russell Wright Design Center in Garrison, New York with its Japanese-influenced woodland garden. Also included with the tour registration is a box lunch and free admission to the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden in Philadelphia, which will be the assembly point for the tour.

“Autumn is one of the best times to be in a Japanese garden and as the leaves turn and fall away, we are better able to isolate and appreciate the architectural aspects of the garden, particularly the buildings that exist in its context,” says NAJGA board president and JASGP executive director Kim Andrews.

The work of revered Japanese architect Junzo Yoshimura will be a prime focus of this event. Aside from being the acclaimed designer of Shofuso, he also built a traditional teahouse for the Japanese garden in Kykuit. The tour will include a lecture about Yoshimura’s works as well as a viewing of the exterior of the Marcel Breuer House in Kykuit.

On October 8, Yoshimura’s legacy at Shofuso will be further scrutinized through the lenses of an ongoing heritage preservation project in a workshop that includes a Japanese carpentry demonstration, practicum on historic preservation reporting, and hinoki roof demonstration. Shofuso’s heritage preservation project aims to uphold Yoshimura’s rigorous standards for designing Shofuso using traditional Japanese design, and one of its most major components is the restoration of the roof made from the bark of the hinoki cypress. Heritage preservation experts and craftsmen skilled in traditional Japanese techniques will serve as lecturers and facilitators during the workshop.

“Our ongoing effort to meet the preservation challenges presented by Yoshimura’s uncompromising standards is also an excellent learning opportunity for everyone else interested in heritage conservation and the modern adaptation of traditional Japanese design,” says Andrews. “Knowing about how to properly report on conditions for heritage structures, for example, is a must for community custodians of these structures inside and outside the garden setting.”

The two-day event will be occurring during one of the busiest weeks in the Philadelphia design scene as it is also part of the 2016 DesignPhiladelphia festival (October 6 to 16), the oldest open-source event of its kind in the United States, and of the Docomomo US Tour Day 2016 (October 8), an annual event for raising awareness of and appreciation of buildings, interiors and landscapes designed in the US during the mid-20th century.

This event is open to the general public. To learn more and to register, visit http://najga.org/Philadelphia-2016.

North American Japanese Garden Association To Host Philadelphia & New York Heritage Tour & Workshop

Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden Through the Seasons

The Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden in Lethbridge, AB  exemplifies pride of place as a “Canadian garden in the Japanese style,” as originally envisioned by its creator Prof. Tadashi Kubo almost half a century ago. The expansive spirit of the surrounding Canadian prairies and the rugged beauty of the Canadian Rockies are both reflected in this merging of Canadian and Japanese culture. Despite the challenges of climate and environment, this garden carries its pride through the different seasons and times of day.

NAJGA board member and Alberta-based garden professional Cody Fong captures the garden in its different moods in the series of photos below. Learn how this garden represents the versatility of the Japanese garden aesthetic in a regional conference “The Adaptability of Japanese Gardens: Lessons Learned From the Canadian Prairies,” September 16 to 18 in Lethbridge, Alberta. Visit http://najga.org/Alberta-2016 for more details and to register.

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Photos by Cody Fong

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Aesthetic Pruners’ Association Presents Intensive Pruning Workshop

The Aesthetic Pruners Association (APA), a member organization of the North American Japanese Garden Association (NAJGA),  is conducting an intensive, hands-on pruning workshop from November 3 to 5, 2016 at the Gardens at Lake Merritt in Oakland, California. Experienced teachers will present aesthetic pruning principles and practices and guide workshop participants in applying these techniques in Lake Merritt’s seven acres of beautiful themed gardens. Participants will come away with pruning skills and concepts which will both challenge and enhance their existing knowledge. All horticultural professionals regardless of specialization and level of experience are welcome to attend.

The difference that aesthetic pruning can make.   

Curriculum Highlights

Day 1Aesthetic Pruning Basics– morning lecture, hands-on pruning in the afternoon

  • Defining pruning
  • Assessing a tree’s health and history
  • Learning the three pruning cuts and knowing the tree’s response
  • Making a seasonal plan
  • Pruning coarse to fine and up and out, finding the good, considering context and environment

Day 2Aesthetic Pruning Principles: Focal Point, Essence and Garden Context- morning lecture, hands-on pruning in the afternoon.

  • Identifying and enhancing a tree’s essence using structure, texture, hide-and-reveal and branch definition
  • Finding the good, making space and creating a sense of age
  • Reading a garden using style, flow, topography and viewing points
  • Separating background, mid-ground and focal point using movement, line, flow and perception
  • Achieving scale and proportion.

For more information and to register to attend the workshop, please visit the APA website: aestheticprunersassociation.org.

 

Aesthetic Pruners’ Association Presents Intensive Pruning Workshop

Florida Conference Explores Japanese Gardens As Places of Health, Wellness and Social Change

The North American Japanese Garden Association and the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens To Host Experts from Six Countries

The North American Japanese Garden Association (NAJGA) is bringing together international garden specialists from Japan, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, China and Australia for two days of learning, exchange and camaraderie that focuses on understanding and utilizing Japanese gardens as nature-based therapeutic settings. NAJGA is a non-profit promoting the art, craft and heart of Japanese gardens in the US and Canada.

NAJGA’s 3rd biennial conference, “Towards A Healthier World: Japanese Gardens As Places For Wellness and Transformation,” will take place on March 7 and 8, 2016 at the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, Delray Beach, FL. The conference is open to the general public and will appeal to persons interested in Japanese gardens, and in broader issues of how landscape can positively transform lives and society.

Click HERE to visit conference webpage.

Conference logo with photo

The more than 40 conference presentations include research findings, case studies, best practices and garden histories related to designing, fostering and utilizing Japanese gardens as havens of healing. Speakers will talk about a wide range gardens from backyard gardens, public and university gardens, spas and other leisure industry venues, to hospices and hospitals. For garden practitioners who wish to improve their level of understanding of Japanese gardening, there will be topics related to Japanese garden design, maintenance, and fostering more creative engagement with the garden.

Click HERE and HERE for a preview of conference presentations and meet the speakers.

Photography Workshop, Garden Talk and Tours

There will be a twilight photography workshop by noted landscape and garden photographer David Cobb on March 7. Cobb is the photographer of the book Quiet Beauty: The Japanese Gardens of North America, 2013 Home & Garden book of the year for the Independent Book Publishers Association. Other special events include a lecture at the banquet by multi-awarded Morikami garden designer Hoichi Kurisu on Japanese garden design and healing, and a chance to participate in the Morikami’s pioneering “Stroll For Well-Being” program. A March 6 pre-conference bus tour visits garden and museum locations in Delray Beach and West Palm Beach.

“Wellness and Japanese gardens have been inextricably linked for centuries and there is now a growing global movement to understand the therapeutic value of nature-based settings,” said NAJGA Board President Kim Andrews. “NAJGA will connect these two historic developments through a conference that paves the way for practical applications in personal wellness and supports the well-being of whole communities.”

Palm Beach County Parks and Recreations Director Eric Call welcomes participants to Morikami. “Ensuring health and wellness opportunities for both mind and body is a core service of the department and I can’t think of a more beautiful and tranquil setting (for the conference),” he says.

Special thanks to our conference partners and sponsors:

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MORIKAMI_LOGO         PJG logo       Anderson JG_logo

KSM-logo-web2       ZEN_logo_CMYK_KO

Kurisu,LLC Logo JPEG     Logo Fondation du jardin et du pavillon japonais de   Mtl

Florida Conference Explores Japanese Gardens As Places of Health, Wellness and Social Change

Q & A: Evoking Natural Landscape For Garden Design

Garden designers and NAJGA members David Slawson and John DeVore shared some of their thoughts in relation to their upcoming 6-day garden design-and-build entitled “Evoking Natural Landscape: A Total Immersion Workshop,” happening on August 16 to 22, 2015 during the construction of a 1-acre residential garden in Bath, Ohio.

NAJGA:  What is behind the process of evoking natural landscape in garden design?

Dave with hat crSlawson:  We take inspiration from what we see in nature, when something beautiful arrests our attention. There are certain natural compositions of elements that speak to us and invite us to pause. It could be a turn in a stream, a weathered leaning tree over the water, a well-placed rock or a nice grouping of plants. We pause and observe what it is that makes this composition work, as well as observe within ourselves how we feel in response. In the concept and installation, both the plan and composition should evoke that exquisite sense of place.

Garvan entry pool step stones 1 MB     Aspen, aspen trunks from west

NAJGA: What does this entail in terms of garden design decisions such as plant selection?

Slawson: Appropriate design doesn’t have to include all native plants but should have the natural look AND be appropriate for the climate. For example, arid climates should have arid plants. You don’t want fussy plants.

NAJGA: How did you personally come to discover and espouse this design principle?

CBG drainage, John guiding rock closeupDeVore: I grew up in a rural setting, spending most of my available time in the fields, forest, ravines, and creeks that surrounded me. I fished, hiked, and played in these places, all the while absorbing the visual beauty and serenity of these places. Having imbibed nature, it is easy to recognize what is necessary to create it in the garden.

David’s story is actually similar. The best of of his childhood was found in the outdoors…in beautiful, peaceful, and stimulating places.

(Video of David Slawson’s life, presented during the 2014 NAJGA conference in Chicago)

We believe that everyone has this internal resource of experience in natural settings and the ability to tap that resource. One of our primary goals in the workshop is to draw out this resource and enable each participant to grow in their ability to evoke these memorable experiences.

Q & A: Evoking Natural Landscape For Garden Design