Lili-uokalani Gardens

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.

Denise Mason

Lili-uokalani Gardens

NAJGA Event Reviews

I love the Japanese Garden at the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens! Most every Thursday morning I can be found volunteering with our Head Gardener, raking, weeding, pruning, planting . . . doing whatever needs doing. About a year ago I became a docent. Getting to show our garden to anyone who walks through our beautiful gate is a joy. I’ve learned a lot in the last year but realize there is so much more to know.

Recently I attended the NAJGA Regional Workshop “Creating and Nurturing Japanese Gardens: A Practice Based Perspective from the South.” My expectation was that attending this workshop would improve my “technical gardening skills.” Pruning and shaping wave foliage, pruning pines and juniper, and tree transplantation preparation were some of the main areas of the workshop. (And that was just day one!) I was not disappointed!

When giving docent tours one of my goals is to give the visitor a good appreciation of how a Japanese Garden is not just a garden but a work of art. I say “Japanese Gardens are inspired by nature, but they’re not wild. Every plant, rock and path is placed intentionally to create an environment that is tranquil and serene. Although carefully planned, Japanese Gardens are designed to appear natural.”

Although I attended the workshop to improve my technical skills, what I didn’t expect—and was pleasantly surprised by—was how much the design elements of the garden were addressed. For instance, after demonstrating how to prune a large black pine, the instructor talked about how the now “old” look of the pine adds to the garden’s comforting feeling. Then, after severely pruning back a low spreading juniper, the instructor noted that the scale let us see how the juniper could represent an island. And, after removing two small trees located close to a large, beautifully pruned juniper our teacher spoke about how that tree now served as a focal point.

This workshop truly addressed both technical and artistic elements of a garden. It focused not only on how to prune a tree, but why you prune it; what the tree should look like and how it should make you feel. What I learned in this workshop will help me as both a volunteer gardener and as a docent. I’m amazed by how many things I now notice in the garden that I didn’t see before!      Diane Jones (volunteer at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden)

Whenever someone teaches you something, it is a gift. I was reminded of this after I recently attended the NAJGA regional event in Texas. I have worked in the construction and landscape industry for over 30 years and owned my business for 20 of those years. After spending that long a time in a trade, it becomes rare to be “wowed” as it feels that you must have seen it all.

When I first got into horticulture and landscaping, I was so enthusiastic that I absorbed information like a sponge.  It’s been a long time since I felt that same enthusiasm as I did when I was a kid getting started in this business. At the NAJGA event, I met some really great educators, craftsmen, and even old friends and was inspired again. I cannot thank enough Don Meiners and his lovely wife for opening up their home and amazing garden to the group as an educational opportunity. They shared their construction journey, both past and present, and they shared their family’s deep culture in the Japanese tea ceremony. Being a part of this was special to me and truly an honor.

This year’s NAJGA event reassures me that there are still so many more interesting things to learn in this industry. I was blown away at the level of knowledge of the workshop leaders and I was so grateful to receive their gift of information. This event was definitely worthwhile for me and for my business.   Vince Williams, Creative Garden Spaces

Confidence, Acceptance, Patience:  A Gardener at the Bay Area Regional

I went to this workshop expecting the same thing I always do of NAJGA events—an enjoyable education. What I found were presenters, and attendees, with extraordinary passion for their craft and cohesive content wrapped in a positive tone yet still urging us to improve as a field.  I also took away an appreciation for the unique history of the Japanese gardens in the Bay Area and the Japanese Americans who helped foster them.  Being presented with historical background prior to visiting local residential gardens really helped change the way I viewed the gardens. This regional workshop was also an excellent opportunity to network with locals and organize to solve common problems.

Toshi Eto remembered a story that hit home with me. While an apprentice, he was perched in a redwood tree removing limbs and he angled his saw to its cutting position. After taking a few moments to consider whether to remove a branch, his teacher yelled “are you sure you should cut that one?”  He reconsidered and sheathed his saw.  Later that day his teacher told him he should have cut that branch; the question was a test: one must be sure of the cut before you take out your saw.  So often in the garden we are either unsure or too sure of the decisions we make.  This workshop reminded me to allow myself the confidence to proceed, the acceptance to fail, and the patience to become a garden craftsman that no longer ponders once my fingers have touched the handle of the saw.   Jacob Kellner, Head of Grounds Maintenance, Hakone Foundation

Wonder & Happiness: An RN at the APA/NAJGA Bay Area Event

Truly a novice, I signed up only expecting that my lack of knowledge would embarrass me at some point. On the contrary, the group was warm and welcoming. Any way you cut it, the APA/NAJGA event was inspirational. As one attendee said afterward, “ I feel pruned.” The metaphor is perfect: dead wood was cleared to let light come in to inspire.

The lectures helped me appreciate the long history of Japanese gardens in the US. “The first Japanese garden was started within a month of the first baseball game which makes Japanese gardens as American as baseball.”  Coupled with practical applications of the concept shizen, we learned to keep our eye fresh as we revisit ideas now thought “traditional” but that are in fact variations on earlier models.

The event was less a “how to” course and more a rich offering of the broad philosophical and psychological concepts behind Japanese garden design, aesthetic pruning, and a respect for the artists who created these beautiful places. As the Japanese master pruner climbed into the cedar during our pruning demonstration day, the translator, more poet, described that for which English has no word: “where space hits not space” or “what is there and not there.” This left me in wonder and happiness.

Touring private gardens was the most incredible experience. It’s magic to walk beyond the gate. I feel so fortunate to have seen such treasures.  Having the historians and craftsmen and families present, added such depth as they satisfied curiosities and answered all our questions.

Hats off to the teams coordinating seamless support, and a special shout out to Michael Weber, Director of Sales (and Merritt College educated Aesthetic Pruner) at The Executive Inn and Suites, for providing an easy airport shuttle ride, warm welcome to a peaceful room, and a delicious supper option. With the van coordination there was no need to rent a vehicle, which made it easier for folks coming in from a distance.

Coming from the world of a nurse practitioner caring for people with dementia, I looked forward to a new challenge and peaceful escape into the aesthetics of Japanese gardens. Judging by the new knots along my bamboo fence and my happy, healthily trimmed maple, it was an inspirational, memorable and useful event.   Joan Tincher, RN, MSN, GNP, Oceanside, CA

NAJGA Event Reviews

Tsunami Memorial Garden

Invitation to probably

the  most memorable travel

to Japan, 2017

You are invited to join a select group of people to participate in assisting to build a memorial Japanese Garden to commemorate victims of the tsunami/earthquake of March 11, 2011 in Tohoku, Japan and the recovery from it. The garden building project is organized by Garden Society of Japan as a 5 year program. You will receive training from traditional Japanese gardeners who will supervise the building and will be befriended with young Japanese gardeners from all around Japan as well.

After garden building, we could visit coastal regions of Tohoku, rich with gardens,  temples , natural beauties and coastal cities undergoing recovery as an optional tour for five days. The base  program will start from Seattle on October 9 through 17 ending in Tokyo.

Supported by Seattle Japanese Garden Society, the  Garden Society  of Japan (Tokyo,) and assisted by North American Japanese Garden Association. ( confirmation is pending at this time).

There are many of you who have benefited over time from being associated with Japan or apprenticed and studied in Japan, yet some of you, including myself, who do not know how to assist Tohoku, Japan for their recovery from disasters of March 11, 9011, in some meaningful and constructive way.

There is a unique opportunity to assist in building a Japanese Garden near Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture. This garden, when completed, will be a memorial and prayer for victims of disaster and commemorate their efforts in recovery and future development.

Designing and building of this garden is organized by Sendai Chapter of the Japanese Garden Society. It is being built on a five year program with a completion date set at 2019 to coincide with  the society’s 100 year anniversary.

This is an excellent opportunity for those thinking and pondering how best to participate in recovery in Tohoku but mutually beneficial.

You could attempt to do that in signing up  for a work study and volunteer program being developed by Koichi Kobayashi with an assistance from Garden Society of Japan and NAJGA.

With this program, participants will engage in assisting building a commemorative Japanese garden under Japanese expert’s supervision, communicating with other participants coming from various parts of Japan as well as local citizens.

The program covers all costs except airfare for land transportation lodging, meals and fees.  Cost will be around $2,500 for five participants..

You can extend your tour visiting other places in Japan as an option.

If you are interested in joining, please send me your name, address, email, work place, profession etc. to Koichi Kobayashi.

Space is limited to five. Please send in a non refundable deposit of $1,000  by June 30 and final payment by August 31.

Koichi Kobayashi

Ph. 206- 2869644

May 5, 2017

Preliminary Itinerary:

Day 1:  Departure from Seattle.  Departure date is October 9, 2016.

Day 2:  Arrival in Tokyo

Day 3:  Transfer to Sendai and Introduction to Garden Building (October 11, 2016)

Day 4:  Garden Building

Day 5:  Garden Building (Local tour)

Day 6:  Garden Building

Day 7:  Garden Building and Farewell Party

Day 8:  Transfer to Tokyo and Free time

Day 9:  Leave for Seattle  from Tokyo (October 17)

Leave for an optional tour to be arranged upon request with a minimum

of five participants.

Tsunami Memorial Garden

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.

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.

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.
Bonsai Court at the Japanese Garden in The Huntington, Pasadena, CA
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 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

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

Uncovering a Garden Plot and a Family Story

By Greg Kitajima

NAJGA member Greg Kitajima helps uncover history in a Japanese internment camp garden plot in Colorado and opens a door to his own family’s story as a Japanese-American. 

Dr. Bonnie Clark (right) is an archaeologist and NAJGA member who is leading the project to uncover the site history of the Amache internment camp in Colorado.

I had not looked through the schedule of speakers at the 2016 North American Japanese Garden Association (NAJGA) conference in Delray Beach, Florida. this past spring. I almost skipped the conference but decided to finally attend.  I had no idea until five minutes before her presentation that Dr. Bonnie Clark of Denver University  would be giving a presentation on the archaeology field school that she runs at the Amache Internment camp, in Granada Colorado, the camp where both my parents and their families were interned from 1942-1945. Funny how things work out the way that they should.

As is very common among former internees of the detention camps, no one in the family had ever really spoken about their experience about that time. In Japanese culture, there is a belief and practice that you do not complain about bad things that happen to you in life. You accept it and move on.I knew that my family had been interned at Amache, but knew little beyond the name of the camp, so the opportunity to visit the site and work with an archaeology field school studying the gardens that were built there was something that I could not have ever imagined happening.

For one whole week in July, I volunteered with Dr. Clark’s field school. The field school was split into two groups, one excavating garden plots and the other focusing on camp life, searching for artifacts. All of the artifacts that they find are electronically plotted on a map, photographed and documented, then returned to the specific site of discovery.

Greg at work at the excavation site.

For the first 3 days, I worked helping to excavate what was believed to be a garden plot. Over the last seventy-odd years, the shifting sands of the plains have drastically altered the existing grade. This particular site was identified by two pieces of concrete that protruded from the ground, obviously purposely placed. At this camp, the barracks were built on poured cement foundations, and as there are no native rocks in the surrounding area, except for small sized stones from the Arkansas river about a mile away, the internees broke off pieces of the concrete over pour and used them as stones in their gardens. In my one square meter plot, approximately 10 centimeter below grade, I uncovered a planting hole, which appeared as nothing more than a 20-inch dark shaded circle with a slightly darker 12-inch diameter circle inside of it. Later, through soil analysis and other lab testing, it has been determined that this was where a plant had been transplanted from the Arkansas river. Garden archaeology of this type is all interpretive, so this is just one piece of a puzzle that may take years to piece together, due to the limited time that they have. In the future, they will return to this plot and do more excavation.

Although the archaeology work was fascinating and directly tied to my work in Japanese-style gardens, it was the last two days that I spent with the group that were the most meaningful.During their second to last weekend, the field school holds an open house for former internees and their relatives. There were about 60 people who attended this event, including my mother and her sister who were 8 and 5 years of age, respectively, when they entered the camp.

Greg with aunt Noemi (left) and mother Martha (right). Noemi and Martha lived in the camp as young children.

This was their first return to Amache since their release in 1945. As part of the program, Dr. Clark took us to the foundation of the barrack where they were housed. The flood of emotions that I experienced standing in the exact spot where my mother’s family was housed was pretty overwhelming. I also had the opportunity to meet and hear stories from other internees, two of which had very vivid memories of camp. One woman spent the larger part of her high school years in camp.

I look forward to 2018, when the next Denver University Archaeological Field School will run, and I am already planning to return for a longer stay this time. Were it not for NAJGA, it is very possible that I might never have made the connection with Dr. Clark and that dark portion of my family history may have remained a mystery.

Uncovering a Garden Plot and a Family Story

Japanese Gardening and Road Tripping to Alberta

by Tom Dufala

NAJGA members Tom and Laura Dufala combined an educational experience in Japanese gardening with a road trip to remember from the Pacific Northwest to the Canadian Rockies and back.  

It was a gorgeous, autumnal journey crossing the Canadian Rockies to find Lethbridge on the southern edge of Alberta.  My wife and I gave ourselves two days to cover the distance from our home in Boring (Portland), OR, arriving in a prairie landscape very different then imagined. A wind gust immediately gripping  us as we stepped from our vehicle. We wondered if we’d come to the right place?


NAJGA member and Nikka Yuko garden consultant Masa Mizuno teaching the art of stone setting. 

After a restful sleep, I stepped out of my hotel room and bumped directly into Masa Mizuno, the garden designer/consultant for the Nikka Yuko Garden.  At that moment I sensed good energy and knew we were in for some fun!  My wife and I followed him to a gathering of 20-25 garden enthusiasts anxious to understand how a remarkable Japanese garden was conceived, designed, constructed and then resurrected on the grassy plains north of the Montana border!  We were warmly greeted by garden staff and welcomed with friendly Canadian hospitality for the next couple of days.  Michelle Day gave a brief overview of the garden’s fifty year history.   She was followed by an detailed garden restoration presentation by Al White and Masa on the gardens’s renaissance, which began in 1991. 

Hints of autumn amidst the evergreens in Nikka Yuko. 

After a hardy lunch, we walked to Henderson Park, home to Nikka Yuko Garden, Henderson Lake, a rose garden and numerous trails and park amenities .  A long formal angular walk leads your eye to the Nikka Yukko garden gate with a two story pavilion rising directly beyond.  Once through the gate, the garden slowly revealed  its bones.  How could you not be overwhelmed with the hardy Amur Maple’s oranges and reds reflecting on to the streams and pools.   All of the vegetation, including the grass berms, were in wonderful harmony with the various structures and garden elements. The masterfully cloud-pruned Mugo and Scotch pines were testament to the skill of the gardening staff. 

Harvest moon over Nikka Yuko 

Later that evening, as the super-harvest moon rose over Henderson Lake, garden guests were again drawn to Nikka Yuko by the rhythm of taiko drumming.  At the close of the evening we “viewed” the garden again, but with eyes closed in a unique journey in the “Art of Stillness”.

Following a second full day of horticulture, garden demonstrations and a lovely banquet at the Galt Museum, my wife and I continued exploring the magic of the region.  In forty-five minutes, we found ourselves hiking and enjoying the Rockies at Waterton-Lakes National Park then south to Glacier and Yellowstone Parks. 

Thank you, Nikka Yuko for exposing us to a week of the cultural and natural discoveries!

Tea ceremony at the Nikka Yuko pavilion. 
Japanese Gardening and Road Tripping to Alberta

Mission Accomplished in Lethbridge

By Leona Jacobs

leona-jacobsOn 2016 September 16-17, the North American Japanese Garden Association held its regional conference in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. It was a small and intimate conference that discussed Japanese gardens using the local Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden as an exemplar.

The Garden opened in 1967 as an expression of appreciation for the cultural ties Lethbridge has with Japan thanks to its citizens of Japanese ancestry. Conference attendees learned about the history of the Garden’s conception and building, its “dark period” of overgrowth, and its reclamation and repair leading to discussions around cultural preservation, placement and proportion of plants and structural elements to achieve views and the aesthetic and physiological benefits of pruning. Demonstrations of ikebana and bonsai provided context. Interactive sessions on rock placement and stepping stone path construction provided practice. Of note was a session on experiencing the Garden using senses other than sight: hearing, feeling, smell.

I attended this conference not really knowing what to expect. I am in the process of reclaiming my overgrown garden and I hoped the conference might inspire my thinking about this project. Mission accomplished! Conceptually, the conference was an excellent reintroduction to the Japanese aesthetic which I will use to inform my own garden reclamation project. More to the point, however, is what I learned about the Nikka Yuko itself. While I have always appreciated our Nikka Yuko Garden, I now have a much deeper appreciation for this oasis in the middle of our city. For me, the conference was time well spent.

Mission Accomplished in Lethbridge

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.

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


Brown, Jane Roy, “Learning From Dragon Rock,” Landscape Architecture, Sept. 2005, 

Hobens, Barbara, “Philipstown Gardens: Inspirations from Manitoga,” The Highlands Current, April 2, 2011,

Huppatz, D.J., “Manitoga and Japan”

Kikuchi, Yuko, “Russell Wright and Japan: Bridging Japonisme and Good Design Through Craft,” The Journal of Modern Craft, Vol. 1 2008, Issue 3

Mendelsohn, Meredith, “Manitoga: Force of Nature,” Garden Design Magazine

A Japanese Garden Experience in Manitoga

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:


Aesthetic Pruners’ Association Presents Intensive Pruning Workshop

North American Japanese Garden Association

The North American Japanese Garden Association (NAJGA) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded in 2011 by leading Japanese gardens in the US and Canada. Our members are based in different parts of North America and overseas, and include garden institutions, professional societies, businesses and individuals with either a professional or a personal interest in the field of Japanese gardening.

Join as a member or become one of our supporters! Visit our website at

NAJGA 2016 Group Shot
2016 NAJGA Conference in Delray Beach, Florida. USA
North American Japanese Garden Association