On Saturday, May 18, the board of directors of Friends of Lili`uokalani Gardens welcomed Ebi Kondo, curator of Sho-Fu-En the Japanese garden at Denver Botanic Gardens and a board member of the North American Japanese Garden Association (NAJGA), to Hilo’s bayfront park along with several Hilo community leaders with long-time ties to the garden.
Kondo was enthusiastic about Lili`uokalani Gardens. “This is an old-style pleasure garden,” he said. “You have so much history here. This is a great event to be shared with all who visit.
“There is such a good feeling to this garden, both casual and elegant. I see a welcome, peaceful, casual, approachable, carefree environment. This is a great combination of American-Japanese garden with Hilo Hawaii flavor.”
Kondo worked on the revitalization of the Japanese garden in Denver. “It takes everybody working together,” he said.
Sho-Fu-En now features a new roji (dewy garden path) to the tea house as well as a separate ADA compliant path. The tea house in Denver is like the one in Hilo in one respect: there are two areas for practitioners and participants — one more traditional with tatami floor and one Western with folding chairs.
Kondo also was enthusiastic about the role of public gardens in communities. “To me, garden is a place to make memories. Happy people come here and are more happy. Sad people who come here are lifted.”
Sho-Fu-En at Denver Botanic Gardens is one of the leadership gardens in the formation of the North American Japanese Garden Association (NAJGA). Kondo took time to emphasize to the group the importance of sharing information. “There will come a time when you have a question and you need to find resources. That is the reason we have this association of public gardens…to be of help to each other with workshops on horticulture, stonescaping, pond building, fund raising, message presentation and all of the things you will face.”
NAJGA offers two regional conferences later this year. Woodworking skills and traditional hand tools will be held August 13-16 in Oakland, California with site visits to several gardens in the area. Constructing Japanese water features and selection and care of koi will be held September 20-21 at Shofuso in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Registration is open now for the woodworking conference in Oakland. More details on the regional conference in Pennsylvania will be available in July. Go to the NAJGA web site for further information. http://www.najga.org
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