Alabama

Pokemon Go comes to the gardens

The online game Pokemon Go has taken a giant leap outdoors. The impact on gardens in the United States was immediate and not always pleasant.

Roji-en fell victim to overly enthusiastic Pokemon Go players in the first days following release of the new game.

Roji-en fell victim to overly enthusiastic Pokemon Go players in the first days following release of the new game.

Roji-en at the Morikami Museum and Gardens in Delray Beach, Florida, immediately took to social media posting photographs of damage to trees and benches. Pleas were made for common sense as The Morikami set out a few ground rules.

“Attention all Pokemon Trainers: As your teams vie for supremacy over each other, we ask you to keep a few ground rules in mind:
Please be respectful of our property and natural resources. Stay on the designated paths at all times—absolutely no climbing on the trees!
“No vandalism of any kind will be tolerated in the garden.
Please respect your fellow visitors, which includes refraining from disruptive behavior, such as running or yelling.
The garden is for everyone; let’s make sure we can all enjoy it!”

Within a few hours of their post, The Morikami had more than 300 comments on Facebook. The perpetrators were located and apologies made.

The Atlanta Botanical Gardens invited Pokemon fans to post their screenshots. “We hear the Garden is a GREAT place to catch ’em all, and we’re super excited to have several Pokéstops as well.” Visitors are encouraged to share screenshots ‪#‎pokemonGO‬

The Birmingham (Alabama) Botanical Gardenis having a “Catch ‘Em All” event in the gardens tomorrow (July 15).

BirminghamPokemon

At the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the game has obsessed players trespassing at night to gain more points. John VanderHaagen, public relations manager, said Meijer Gardens staff are thrilled that droves of Pokemon Go players are visiting the gardens, as long as it’s during regular hours.

“We do encourage players to be aware of their surroundings and follow our basic rules of not touching the sculpture and staying on pathways and mowed lawn areas only,” he said in an email.

http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2016/07/pokemon_go_brings_late-night_t.html

In Hilo, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald ran a font page story today (July 14) that continued to the back page of the front section with many photos by Hollyn Johnson. Just yesterday George DeMello at Sig Zane Designs mentioned the invasion of Lili`uokalani Gardens.

“There’s no place to park and take a walk,” said DeMello. “And the gardens look so lovely.”

http://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/news/local-news/catch-em-if-you-can-pokemon-go-smartphone-game-huge-hit-hilo

Nearby, Banyan Gallery owner Jelena Clay noted an influx of shoppers who were also seeking to capture points in the game.

Have fun, be safe, and respect the gardens.

UPDATE FRIDAY, JULY 15:

A news story from Hawaii News Now published yesterday states that Niantic Inc., the developer of Pokemon Go, says it has corrected a mistake in the app. Users who checked in with iPhones through a Google account found that they were allowing full access to their account information. Niantic says the problem is fixed, but advises users to log out and download the update.

HISTORY:

Geocaching games predate Pokemon Go

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-07-12/long-before-pokemon-go-there-was-geocaching

UPDATE THURSDAY, JULY 21:

Some gardens are making great use of the increased visitor count. Nikka Yuko in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, has opened in the evening with two different ticket rates: one for those visiting the gardens and another for those wishing to see a movie also.

an example of a character found at Nikka Yuko

an example of a character found at Nikka Yuko

view of increased visitor count due to Pokemon Go craze

view of increased visitor count due to Pokemon Go craze

UPDATE FRIDAY, JULY 22

On the same day Pokemon Go was released in Japan, Izumo Taisha — one of the oldest and most highly regarded Shinto shrines — announced a ban on drones and on playing Pokemon Go on its grounds and surroundings.

http://kotaku.com/pokemon-go-banned-at-a-religious-shrine-in-japan-1784102983

UPDATE: FRIDAY, JULY 28

Hiroshima’s Peace Park reports 30 Pokestops and 3 gyms were in and around an area considered sacred. The city of Hiroshima has asked Pokemon Go’s creators to remove the monsters before the August 6, the annual ceremony of the bombing.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-36891787

UPDATE: MONDAY, AUGUST 22

Pokemon Go continues to be the most popular outdoor video game. Recent postings on Instagram give maps to characters in The Morikami in Florida and in Lili`uokalani Gardens in Hilo.

a recent map of Pokemon Go characters at Roji-en, Morikami, Delray Beach, Florida

a recent map of Pokemon Go characters at Roji-en, Morikami, Delray Beach, Florida

a recent map of Pokemon Go characters at Lili`uokalani Gardens in Hilo, Hawaii

a recent map of Pokemon Go characters at Lili`uokalani Gardens in Hilo, Hawaii

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Categories: Alabama, Alberta, Atlanta, Birmingham, Canada, Delray Beach, Florida, Georgia, Grand Rapids, Hawaii, Hilo, Japan, Michigan | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

First NAJGA Journal published

The first issue of the Journal of the North American Japanese Garden Association

The first issue of the Journal of the North American Japanese Garden Association features a view of the tea deck at Sho-Fu-En in Denver Botanic Gardens.
photo by Bill F. Eger

The first issue of The Journal of the North American Japanese Garden Association arrived in our mailbox the other day and it’s gorgeous! Within heavy cover stock are more than 60 pages of well written, beautifully illustrated articles.

Topics in this inaugural edition include an extensive article by Robert Karr on The Garden of the Phoenix in Chicago — which article has been translated into Japanese. The story celebrates the 120-year history of the garden and looks toward the future with plans for mass plantings of cherry trees in the lagoon nearby.

It is followed by a detailed account of a garden now gone: Middlegate Japanese Gardens of Pass Christian, Mississippi by landscape architect Anne Legett.

As Journal editor Kendall Brown points out, “The former garden’s bright future and the latter’s forlorn state signal the fragility of gardens and the need for careful stewardship.”

Six regional gardens — Birmingham, Alabama; Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California; Kumamoto-en in San Antonio, Texas; Sho-Fu-En in Denver, Colorado, the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden on the campus of California State University Long Beach and Portland Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon — offer comparative and contrasting views on several questions surrounding the topic of master planning. NAJGA executive director Diana Lawroe analyzed results of questions, interviews and documents, pulling together a cogent and insightful article.

A Living Friendship of Flowers details horticultural challenges in observing the centennial of the Japan-U.S. Cherry Blossom Gift. Case studies include Chicago Botanic Garden, Fort Worth Botanic Garden, and Waimea Hawaii.

An article on interpretive education offers case studies on docent tours, ephemeral and permanent signs, and new technologies such as cell phone guides.

Jill Raggett, Ph.D., is a specialist in the emergence of Japanese style gardens in the British Isles, historic garden restoration, and biographies for the Japan Society. This distinguished speaker offers her view of the first conference of NAJGA — Connections — held October 2012 in Denver, Colorado.

Finally there is a book review of a reprint of the 1940 work by America’s first Japanese garden expert Loraine E. Kuck, well known to Hawaii garden folk for her books and garden designs here. Miyuki Katahita-Manabe, Ph.D., of Osaka notes in her review: “The reprinting in 2012 of Loraine Kuck’s The Art of Japanese Gardens, first published in 1940, provides an opportunity for reassessing this important book that introduced many English-language readers to the cultural history of Japanese gardens.”

The Journal is a benefit of NAJGA membership. It was made possible through the support of The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership. Japanese language translation service were provided by Matsuda, Funai, Eifert & Mitchell, Ltd.

NAJGA is a professional non-profit membership organization dedicated to the advancement and sustainability of Japanese gardens throughout the United States and Canada. Founded in 2011 with input from more than 200 Japanese garden professionals, NAJGA focuses on the Horticulture, Human Culture, and Business Culture of Japanese gardens through a variety of programs and services. NAJGA membership is open to everyone.

For more information, go to http://www.najga.org

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Cover photo for The Journal by Bill F. Eger. Comments on this and other articles in this blog are welcome.

Categories: Alabama, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Texas | Tags: , | 1 Comment

A little something for the railroad fans

Some of our readers have asked for a little detail on our railroad adventure: what lines we rode, what the stations were like, how was the food and who got the upper berth.

There is no way my husband and I could have made this trip from Atlanta to the San Francisco Bay area if it were not for Amtrak. The same trip by air would have been prohibitively expensive and not nearly as enjoyable.

Everywhere we went, we reveled in the anxiety-free wonder of looking out large windows at the cityscapes and countryside. It’s no wonder that the Amtrak motto is “Change the Way You See the World.”

On the wall of the Grand Junction, Colorado, station is a small sampling of Amtrak posters offering guided train tours.

On every train, we found engaging and delightful conversation with a wide range of fellow travelers from Switzerland, Canada, China, Australia, Holland, France, and so many states that I’ve lost count. Families were traveling with their children and grandchildren. Businesspeople were going to work or coming home from conferences. Young couples were honeymooning, older couples were celebrating wedding anniversaries. All in all a wonderful mix.

Our first train station in Atlanta, Georgia, still had the comfortable old style curved wooden benches with tall globe lamps.

Baggage allotment is similar to that of airplanes in size and weight of luggage to be checked — and we had to do some quick switching to get the large red suitcase lighter by moving several one-pound bags of Hilo Coffee Mill whole bean coffee to the smaller purple suitcase. Giving away omiyage as we went from garden to garden plus mailing home packages of books and gifts purchased kept us at the proper check in weight.

Our first train — #19 on The Crescent Line — arrives in Atlanta to take us to Birmingham, Alabama.

On some legs of this journey, we reserved coach seats. The ride from Atlanta, GA, to Birmingham, AL, had a delayed departure due to a live wire on the tracks somewhere in Virginia, but once underway, proceeded uneventfully. The Crescent Line begins in New York and goes to New Orleans. We quickly learned why our fellow coach passengers traveled with blankets. The AC was cranked up and it was COLD inside that car. Thank goodness for jackets and sweaters.

close-up detail of wire, rock and metal slat combination used to create benches in Railroad Park, Birmingham, AL

Railroad Park in downtown Birmingham, Alabama, a few blocks from the Amtrak station, is full of wide open spaces used by walkers, joggers, symphony performances and yoga classes, to name a few. It was a featured stop on the Birmingham Botanical Garden’s Leaf and Petal Glorious Gardens tour.

The Crescent Line continued from Birmingham, AL, to New Orleans, LA, a day-long trip for which we booked a roomette. I napped in the upper berth using both mattresses as Bill stayed seated upright in the seats below giving him a chance to wander around to the lounge and dining car. This line had some older equipment so our roomette featured a sink and toilet. Shower was down the hall. Seats were wide, roomy and comfortable. In this sleeping car, roomettes lined one side of the car with a narrow windowed aisle on the other side.

poster for the Crescent Line — loved the graphics throughout this journey

The New Orleans, Louisiana, train station features some of the most amazing frescoes I’ve seen in a long time. The New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal (NOUPT) was designed in 1949 and opened in 1954 at which time it was considered an ultra-modern facility.

Featured are 120 feet (2,166 square feet) of murals depicting New Orleans and Louisiana history painted by Conrad A. Albrizio with the assistance of James Fisher. Albrizio was a renown art professor at Louisiana State University. The murals in four parts depict the ages of exploration, colonization, conflict and the modern age. The murals were restored after Hurricane Katrina.

For more information on New Orleans’ railroad history dating back to 1831, see the Amtrak link: http://www.greatamericanstations.com/Stations/NOL/Station_view

one section of the colonization panel

one section of the exploration panel

New Orleans is served by three lines: Crescent, City of New Orleans with service to Chicago, and Sunset Limited with service to Los Angeles. Our next leg of the journey would be aboard the Sunset Limited which used to go all the way from Los Angeles to Orlando, Florida but the section of track beyond New Orleans has yet to be replaced after Hurricane Katrina. Our train left New Orleans before noon and arrived in San Antonio, Texas in the middle of the night.

one version of the Sunset Limited poster

From San Antonio to Chicago, with several stops along the way, we were aboard the Texas Eagle. Sometimes we were in coach. For the long leg from Fort Worth, TX, to St. Louis, MO, we were in another roomette, this one in newer equipment that featured roomettes on both sides of a central aisle.

K.T.’s window seat in coach with plenty of leg and elbow room, loads of space for carry-on baggage above plus beneath seats. Note the different color tags stuck in a rail indicating to the conductor that passenger’s stop.

Bill enjoys the view from the large windows in this typical roomette. The upper berth drops down to just above the top edge of the window — still plenty of headroom for the person in the lower seat, but the upper berth in some sleeping cars can be rather close to the ceiling of the car.

Categories: Alabama, Amtrak, Atlanta, Birmingham, California, Chicago, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, New Orleans, San Antonio, San Francisco, Texas | Tags: , | 6 Comments

The Westervelt Company in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

An artful garden sits amid four buildings, the headquarters of The Westervelt Company in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Formerly known as Gulf States Paper Company, the company’s recently retired president Jack Warner served in Burma during World War II. His time there and his frequent travels to Japan informed the design of the corporate headquarters and garden.

All four buildings are connected by exterior walkways offering varying views of the central garden, inspired by gardens at Katsura Imperial Villa in Kyoto, Japan.

The buildings also house the Tuscaloosa Museum of Art, home of the Westervelt Collection, an extensive collection of paintings, furnishings and sculpture from around the world.

Garden construction began with construction of the office building in 1969 and both were completed in 1972. We were told that Mr. Warner closely directed landscape architect David Engel to achieve his vision — a garden in which quietude brings a sense of the oneness of all: heaven, earth and man. “We begin to feel our relationships to all the universe, where everything is forever changing in form, ever renewing,” according to an old brochure provided by the company.

A company brochure describes this bridge saying: “One legend says that the traditional zig-zag bridge was first built this way so that people on foot could escape their enemies on horseback. Another more practical reason is so the visitor can view the garden from different angles.”

closer view of the waterfall

The entire pond was recently drained and leaks repaired. Koi have not been reintroduced to the pond. Several small goldfish were visible on this visit.

Arrangements to visit the garden and the art collection must be made with the company.

Categories: Alabama, Tuscaloosa | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Birmingham Botanical Garden

Stone arrangements in Long Life Lake were done by Masaji Morai. A grove of  black bamboo is visible to the left of the bridge. To the right of the bridge is a large lantern, a gift from Hitachi in 1985

From the web site of the Birmingham Botanical Garden:

“Officially opened by the Japanese Ambassador to the United States in 1967, this 7.5-acre site is actually an interwoven collection of gardens built in the Japanese style, replete with traditional architectural and garden elements. Here you can find the tea garden, the karesansui garden with its meditative compositions of boulders set amidst a bed of raked gravel, the hill and stream garden* with features such as the Seven Virtues Waterfall, and the small stroll garden set around Long Life Lake. Casual visitors will want to study the colorful koi, relax in the lakeside rest shelter, or take a class at the cultural pavilion. Plant lovers will enjoy exploring bamboo groves, examining our growing collection of momiji – the Japanese maples – and seeing prehistoric dawn redwoods.

“Designed by Mr. Masaji “Buffy” Morai, the Japanese Gardens officially opened in 1967 and have been one of BBG’s most popular features since then. Largely through the hard work and guidance of volunteer Doug Moore, major modifications to a large part of the gardens were finalized in 1993 when the Japanese government gave it the title of Japanese Cultural Center. That important designation was made because Mr. Kazunori Tago, of Maibashi, Japan, one of the finest miyadaiku, or Japanese temple and shrine builders, created a traditional tea house here. Toshinan, whose name means, “the house where those gathered can light a wick [of understanding] in each others’ hearts”, is a 16th-century Sukiya-style tea house, made completely from materials brought from Japan and built using only traditional tools and techniques. There are fewer than a dozen such structures in the United States, and none are finer than Toshinan. An adjacent yoritsuki, or waiting hut, was also designed and built by Tago-san, completing the tea garden structures. Materials were donated by the citizens of Maibashi and additional funding was provided by the Shades Valley Council of Garden Clubs and Gardens of Inverness; the yoritsuki was dedicated in honor of Eva Woodin Gambrell. Members of the Japanese Garden Society of Alabama assist with maintenance of the tea house and in cultural and educational programming.

“The Japanese Gardens are entered through a spectacular curved-top torii, or “gate to heaven”, painted a traditional bright red. This area was renovated and the master plan updated in 1988 through funds given by the Drummond Company in memory of Elza Stewart Drummond. Down the path from the torii, a tile-capped mud wall is punctuated by the entrance to the Cultural Center: the Taylor Gate, given by Dr. Wendell Taylor, with its heavy, yet intricately joined, wooden timbers. Across the stream from the tea house sits the Japanese Cultural Pavilion, which is based on the design of a rural Japanese theater. Three sides of the pavilion are removable, facilitating seasonal open air activities like classes such as sushi-making, performances such as martial arts demonstrations, and many other aspects of Japanese culture.

“A recent update of the master plan for the Japanese Gardens was completed by Zen Associates of Sudbury, Massachusetts. The firm’s principal landscape architects, Shinichiro Abe and Peter White, have an intimate knowledge of Japanese garden design and construction, and as their company’s name suggests, it is their sole specialty.”

The new View Receiving bridge designed by Zen Associates will accommodate maintenance vehicles and is barrier free. It spans the water course, dry for several years, which is on the list for repair. The bridge marks a transition from a more tightly planted area to more open plantings.

New beds of azalea are being installed as part of that master plan. Renovations and repairs are planned throughout with perhaps the largest efforts being restoration of the watercourse and the addition of an ampitheatre behind the cultural center. New maples are being added and a walkway through the bamboo thicket is planned.

Pink hydrangea were in bloom beyond the View Receiving bridge.

The Birmingham Botanical Garden comprises 67.5 acres, 7.5 of which are the Japanese garden. The BBG is owned by the city which has an agreement with the Friends. The City handles outside reservations such as weddings. The Friends organization handles education, fundraising, capital improvements, and special events. BBG has the nation’s largest public horticulture library. The garden is open free to the public all year long.

For more on the Birmingham Botanical Garden, visit their web site:

http://www.bbgardens.org

New varieties of maple are going in on the far side of the lake.

Many thanks to Fred Spicer Jr. for the “grand tour” via golf cart and for the wealth of information shared.

When you visit this garden, be sure to stop in Leaf and Petal, the shop at the entry, for a wide variety of art, crafts, garden items and plants. There’s always news about garden tours and classes available there and on the web site.

Categories: Alabama, Birmingham | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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