Illinois

1893 garden in Chicago continues to provide respite, tranquility and beauty

[NOTE: The following article was prepared in mid-2012. Since that time, this garden has a new name: “The Garden of the Phoenix.” To learn more about activities planned for the 120th anniversary celebration March 31, 2013 please go to the garden friends’ group’s web site: http://gardenofthephoenix.org/  ]

From the first “Great Exposition” of 1851 in London, more than 90 world’s fairs have been held — most of them in Europe, the United States, Canada and Japan.

Though the themes may have differed, the motives were strikingly similar: “to commemorate a historic event, to educate and entertain, to sell new products, to peer into the future, and, although it’s rare, to turn a profit for the sponsors,” as noted by Norman Bolotin and Christine Laing in their 2002 book The World’s Columbian Exposition: The Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 published by University of Illinois Press.

To this day, we can enjoy remnants of those fairs: The Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco dates back to an 1854 fair; the Japanese Friendship Garden in San Diego at Balboa Park dates from a tea pavilion at a 1915 fair. The present Osaka Garden had its beginning as Wooded Island in the 1893 World’s Columbia Exposition with additions following the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair: A Century of Progress.

In looking at all the world’s fairs, Bolotin and Laing noted: “when it comes to pure scope, grandeur and far-reaching legacies, the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 outshines them all. Twenty-eight million visitors (in six months). Buildings stretching a third of a mile long. The world’s first Ferris Wheel — with cars the size of buses! The first amusement section ever at a fair. Replicas of a full-size battleship and Columbus’ three caravels. Architectural impact reaching into the new century.”

Wooded Island 1893

Looking southeast from the Illinois Building on the 1893 fair grounds, a bridge led to Wooded Island, a peaceful retreat for fairgoers amid 200 buildings constructed for the six-month fair. The present Osaka Garden site is in the wooded area to the left of the Ho-o-den buildings.
photo from The World’s Columbian Exposition: The Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, the White City Artfolio

Wooded Island was at the center and provided respite from the bustle of the fair. On the north end, three buildings were constructed representing Japanese architecture from the 12th, 16th and 18th centuries. They were connected to form the shape of Ho-o, a mythical bird like the phoenix. Some suggest the phoenix was used as an emblem for the City of Chicago, reborn from the great fire of 1871.

To get an idea of where this park is located, take a look at Google maps:

Osaka Garden

The red pin marks an approximate location for Osaka Garden on Wooded Island in Jackson Park on the south side of the Museum of Science and Industry. It is easily reached by bus or car.
(Google Maps)

In a history for the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Parks Committee, Gary Ossewaarde wrote:

“The 1893 Ho-o-Den consisted of three structures joined by covered walkway to form the shape of the phoenix bird, which it did resemble from ground level). The beams and joinery were part of the beauty and ornament. Inside were artifacts and treasures from three periods of Japanese history-scrolls, vases, decorative screens, writing materials, and musical instruments. A major feature was the lanterns– both the elaborate stone ones and the paper lanterns at ceiling level. The elements and art were designed and crafted in Japan and brought over by steamer and train, along with carpenters, stone workers and gardeners. The construction itself was an activity that drew many visitors. A reporter wrote, ‘They move about serenely as if it were a pleasure to work’.

entry bridge

Another view of the Ho-o-den on Wooded Island at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.
(Dream City: A Portfolio of Photographic Views of the World’s Columbian Exposition)

“The Japanese exhibit and pavilion also helped introduce Americans to Japanese culture, religion, arts, and architecture at a time (post-Meiji Restoration) when Japan was especially anxious to show the world its power, modernization, and accomplishments. Frank Lloyd Wright was but one of several architects and artists influenced by the Phoenix Pavilion, but the impact on him was arguably transformational leading not only to prairie houses but large structures such as the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, and it influenced his decorative arts. It’s not only the exterior look and visible (“unmasked”) structure with form following function, and combination of fine craftsmanship with simple, everyday materials, but also the interconnecting corridors and holistic flow of the “rooms” that influenced Wright and others.”

north end of Osaka Garden

The Palace of Fine Arts for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition is now the Museum of Science and Industry.
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

It remains a place of tranquility between the University of Chicago to the west and the Lake Michigan shore to the east, a baseball field, marina and golf course to the south and the Museum of Science and Industry to the north. The Museum of Science and Industry is the last remaining structure on the site of the 1893 fair. Built as the Palace of Fine Arts, it was of more substantial, fire-proof construction to protect the art.

The Ho-o-den was donated by the Japanese government at the close of the 1893 fair with the intention that it remain as a lasting memento. In 1933, for the Century of Progress World’s Fair, Chicago and the government of Japan constructed a traditional tea house on Chicago’s near/mid-south lakefront and also created a garden on Wooded Island’s northeast side and refurbished the Ho-o-den. The garden was designed by issei Taro Otsuka, a garden builder based in the Midwest. After that fair closed, a torii gate, the Nippon Tea House and lanterns from the Century of Progress were moved to Wooded Island in 1935.

The Noh Stage style pavilion will serve as a gathering spot for cultural displays and presentations. It is located on the same spot as the 1933 tea house. The waterfall offers several points from which to view cascading water. A flat rock crossing below the waterfall offers an even closer view.
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

More work on the Japanese garden was done by George Shimoda and built with assistance from Japan. As it does today, the garden consisted of a double pond with islands, a cascading waterfall, stone walkway, flowering cherry trees, iris, lilies, a moon bridge, rock formations and stone lanterns.

The garden and buildings fell prey to public fears during World War II and several fires destroyed the buildings from 1941 to 1946. Gradually, the site became neglected and overgrown.

One rebirth began in 1973 with the formalizing of a Sister City relationship with Osaka, a relationship that went back to the 1950s. Also in 1973, Douglas C. Anderson began leading bird walks “in part to reclaim them for birders and the communities of Hyde Park, Woodlawn and South Shore. Gradually, thanks in good measure to Doug and to picnics/People in the Park events held by the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference and Open Lands, citizens and birders returned, rediscovered Osaka Garden and demanded its restoration,” Ossewaarde wrote.

“Also, by 1974 Jackson Park had been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. During that decade, the Park District added new landscaping, stabilized the shoreline and either restored or reconstructed most of the original features.”

Osaka Garden pond

Pine, bridge and stones — all carefully placed — are reflected in the surface of the pond below the waterfall (behind and to the right of this point of view).

Another rebirth occurred in the 1980s when designer Kaneji Domoto was brought in. He was known for his work designing Japanese gardens at the 1939 world fairs at both Treasure Island in California and in New York. Nissei Domoto (1913-2002) worked at his parents’ Northern California nursery and later was interned at the Granada War Relocation Center during WWII. He studied at Berkeley and with Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin and had a 50+ year career as an architect and landscape designer. In 1974, he authored Bonasi and the Japanese garden. In 1983, Domoto received the Frederick Law Olmsted Award for his redesign of the Japanese garden at Jackson Park. George Cooley, formerly a JPAC officer and Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference officer, shepherded planning and secured grants including federal funds for the Garden restoration.

The designs of the 1970s and 1980s followed the original paths designed in 1893 to provide a stroll through the wooded area.

Osaka Garden gate

Text of the sign reads: “The Osaka Japanese Garden is a culturally authentic site, designed to create a feeling of peace and tranquility. Please stay on the paths and refrain from activities that will disrupt the special experience for other patrons. Your pets are welcome if they remain leashed and you pick up after them. Thank you for your cooperation.”
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

The next phase was in 1992 and 1993 when the 20th anniversary of the Sister City relationship was celebrated and the Garden was renamed Osaka Japanese Garden (1993). In 1994-95  a new traditional formal gate and fence, were dedicated, funded by the City of Osaka and constructed entirely without nails and by hand using tongue and groove methods. A major historical study and report were produced in 1992.

Yet another rebirth began in 2000 with the direction of Sadafumi Uchiyama in creating a master plan for the garden. Uchiyama is a third generation Japanese gardener from southern Japan, His family’s involvement in the business dates back to the Meiji era (1909). He served as secretary of the International Association of Japanese Gardens from 1996 to 2000 and currently is garden curator of the Portland Japanese Garden and a member of the board of directors of the North American Japanese Garden Association (NAJGA). Uchiyama received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in landscape architecture from the University of Illinois and is licensed in Oregon and California.

Initial work was completed in 2001 with steel retaining walls that line the banks of the pond, 100 tons of new boulders to shore up the edges of the pond and lagoon, and resetting of 120 tons of rock. Uchiyama picked jagged stones to redesign the “behavior of the water” in the waterfall. It flows into the pond at 600 gallons per minute.

Osaka Garden pond detail

Stone from Wisconsin was chosen to augment stone already in the garden.

“In 2008, after a hiatus in reestablishing a maintenance contract, and some less than satisfactory catch up pruning, parties including the City of Osaka Chicago Office, new contractors Clauss Brothers, expert pruning supervisor Bill Koons, CPD supervisor Karen Szyka and Department of Planning and Development took action. Main improvements included repair and cleaning of the torii gate, numerous cherries, replacement of a burr oak blown down in a storm, and most important replacement of the waterfall pump,” Ossewaarde wrote.

“Rededication on October 18, 2008 — the 35th anniversary of the Sister City partnership — included dedication by the Vice Mayor of Osaka and performances of a traditional sit down comedy–Kaishi and two Rakugo.”

Osaka Garden lantern

This lantern may date back to the 1893 fair.
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

“Everyone is aware that some shoring up will still be needed, and such gardens need permanent funding to make the intensive maintenance sustainable– and high level of security. Any permanent oversight group will have to look at which garden template is to be the goal, bearing in mind that a Japanese garden is meant to be changing and evanescent through the seasons and years– a never-ending work of art.

“The Garden’s theme, from 1893 to the present, is peace–between humans and nature, within people, with the spiritual realm, and between peoples. These themes are dear to the people of Osaka, Chicago, and the park’s neighboring communities. Long may this garden continue. As the Osaka Garden Committee of Sister Cities International wrote, ‘A garden develops over time….it is lasting. The same is true of the relationships between people, nations and cultures. Every gardener knows that quiet observation and attention to nature facilitate the success of a garden. Likewise, peace and understanding facilitate our future’.”

Osaka Garden sign

A waterproof box under a sign pointing the way to the entry bridge holds a history of Wooded Island and a guide to trees planted along the entire island’s paths.

On a personal note: This area of Chicago holds many memories for both my husband and me. Bill attended the University of Chicago in the mid-1950s. For me as a youngster living in Michigan, a trip to the Museum of Science and Industry was a really big deal. On this trip we spent the afternoon at the Museum until closing then were met by Osaka Garden docent Sonia Cooke.

It was a true delight to be in her presence wandering from the museum to the bridge leading to the garden and all through every part of this lovely jewel. Her lifetime knowledge of architecture and her current enthusiasm for the garden made our visit most enjoyable. Thank you Sonia. And thank you Robert Karr and William Florida of the Friends of the Japanese Garden for putting us together.

Thank you Gary Ossewaarde for permission to quote from your extensive history. For those who wish more information, please look at http://www.hydepark.org/parks/osaka2.htm#history

Osaka Garden bridge

On the list for repair is this traditional arched bridge.
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Photos not otherwise credited in this blog are by K.T. Cannon-Eger. To see a full size image, click on any photo. Comments on this and other articles are welcome.

Frank Lloyd Wright and the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893

from Frank Lloyd Wright: A Biography by Meryle Secrest, published by The University of Chicago Press in 1992, pages 185-187

“Most writers agree that Wright’s interest in Japanese art probably began with the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, if not before — one recalls that, as a member of [Louis] Sullivan’s office, he would have had detailed knowledge of the advance planning — and, in particular, with one of the most popular exhibits, “The Ho-o-den,” a wooden temple of the Fujiwara Period, which the Japanese government erected on a small plot of ground set in an artificial lake. It was the first real introduction of Japanese art and architecture to the Middle West. In terms of the enormous interest in all things Japanese that had followed Commodore Matthew C. Perry’s trip to Japan in 1845, this discovery must be considered rather late. Bronzes,  lacquers, fans, ceramics, and above all, prints had been flooding to Europe for twenty or thirty years, and artists as disparate as Redon and Steinlen had drawn new inspiration from these exotic and unfamiliar objects, seizing on the lessons they had to teach as a way to revitalize their imagery.

“Architects were just as susceptible and, after the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876, where Japanese pavilions had been built, and especially after publication of the first English-language book on Japanese architecture in 1886, they focused their attention on this aspect of Japanese culture. For Americans oriented toward the Arts and Crafts Movement, Japan offered ‘the example of an indigenous culture that embodied the organic quality they found in the middle ages,’ as Richard Guy Wilson wrote. He added, ‘Japanese motifs from curved gable ends to nearly wholesale replication of pagodas and torii gates, appeared in Arts and Crafts houses and bungalows from coast to coast.’ One believes Wright’s new interest to have been at least partly connected with the exhaustion White had noticed and remarked upon just before his employer left for Japan [in 1905]. It began the year before, White wrote, when Wright seemed very ‘petered out.’ However, in the last three months it had been impossible to get Wright to give his office any attention at all. In fact, Wright had been confined to bed for several weeks that winter with a case of tonsillitis that had made its way around the family. He returned from Japan in May sounding more like his old self. … His interest was entirely genuine and his visit would have a lasting influence.

“Several writers claim to see a more or less direct connection between the Japanese temple that Wright saw at the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 and some of his own buildings. Vincent Scully demonstrated that the treatment of exteriors in the Willits house resembled those of the Ho-o-den, and Wright’s use of light-colored stucco panels edged with bands of darker wood seemed to suggest Japanese models as well.  Scully published copies of the two floor plans to support his assertion that the house Wright designed for Willits was modeled almost exactly on that of the Japanese shrine. Another authority on Wright believed he had been most influenced by the Japanese print, and he had certainly begun to collect ukiyo-e (pictures of the floating world) sometime before his first visit to Japan, because photographs of his interiors showed such prints prominently displayed. He returned from Japan with over two hundred woodcuts by Hiroshige, considered the artist to have had the greatest influence on the West, and lent them to the Art Institute of Chicago a year later for the first ukiyo-e exhibition to be held in that museum. He bought them as investments, making no bones about being a dealer, and was so successful that he had a sizable collection of Japanese prints on hand all his life, to be cashed in when necessary, and some famous collectors as clients. But he was also passionately interested in the subject, almost obsessed, and would talk endlessly about the exquisite qualities of these prints, their serenity, simplicity, sense of the natural world and reduction to essentials. While on that first trip he wore native robes and took extended trips into the interior to collect his prints and porcelains. All of this indicates that the feelings aroused by Japanese art were wholehearted, yet there is a suggestion that, at some level, Wright was made acutely uncomfortable by that most conformist, ordered and rigidly circumscribed culture that he apparently admired for its spirituality.”

Wright returned to Japan for many months during the years 1916 to 1922 building not only the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo but also residences such as that for Aisaku Hayashi in 1917.

Categories: Chicago, Illinois | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The trip West continues

A more extensive article on Chicago’s Osaka Garden at Jackson Park will be posted soon. By 2013, the garden was re-named The Garden of the Phoenix.

Osaka Garden pond and bridge

Osaka Garden pond

Osaka Garden at Jackson Park in Chicago dates from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. It was recently renewed due to the efforts of an active Friends group with the expertise and guidance of Sadafumi Uchiyama and the cooperation of the Chicago Parks Department.

Meanwhile, here are a few photos from the rest of the journey from Chicago to Denver to San Francisco by train.

Here, we have included images from gardens in Chicago, Denver, Grand Junction, Berkeley, Oakland, Orinda and San Francisco to give you a little taste of the articles still to come.

Denver pond

Looking in one direction, Shofu-en displays one of the inspirations for its name — “Garden of the Pines and Wind.”

Denver Shofu-en

Looking across the pond in another direction, one could feel transported to similar gardens in urban Japan. The residents of the nearby condos must enjoy a beautiful view.

Grand Junction

Entry to the Japanese garden in Grand Junction, Colorado, is through a conservatory with plants familiar to many in Hawaii and other tropical regions.

Berkeley Botanic

This is a small section of the pond in the Japanese garden at UC-Berkeley Botanical Garden. Iris were in bloom throughout our journey in June.

Higashi Hongwanji

The Higashi Hongwanji in Berkeley (www.bonbu.com) has an elegant entry garden maintained in part with the assistance of the Aesthetic Pruners Association.

Oakland

Every detail matters — and here a relatively new stone appears to have been in place for hundreds of years due to the lichen.

borrowed scenery

The living room is arranged to take full advantage of the garden in this private residence in northern California.

WF entry

A rooftop corporate garden in San Francisco, created some years ago, was completely redone recently to address engineering problems that developed over the years. This is a small detail of an area separating the entry door, which leads to the garden, from a walkway that goes around the roof.
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

San Francisco
Ginkgo leaves near the 1915 pagoda at the San Francisco Japanese Tea Garden

To see a full size version of any photograph in this blog, just click on the image.

Categories: Berkeley, California, Chicago, Colorado, Denver, Grand Junction, Illinois, Oakland, San Francisco | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe: where East meets Midwest

“The Japanese have taken their love of growing things and their realization of man’s union with nature and refined them in the beauty of their gardens. The purpose of a Japanese garden is to present natural forms and to create a tranquil beauty that leads the visitor from everyday life to a calm, serene, reflective communion with nature.”

Koichi Kawana

color and texture

shades of green and varieties of texture
(photo by Bill F.Eger)

Sansho-en at Chicago Botanic Garden is a 17.3 acre promenade style garden or kaiyu-shiki, a garden style developed during the 17th century. Sansho-en means “The Garden of the Three Islands” – Keiunto, Seifuto and Horajima – visible in a diagram of the garden. The experience in a stroll garden is to see the garden while walking. Different views appear on the journey along a winding path.

map of three islands

map of the three islands of Sansho-en courtesy of Chicago Botanic Garden

“A walk through Sansho-en reveals a collection of smaller gardens and classic elements from several historical Japanese garden styles,” said one garden brochure. “In Sansho-en you can experience contemplative dry gardens, an intimate moss garden, cool woodland gardens and a distant paradise garden, all in one visit.”

karesansui

contemplative karesansui (dry landscape)
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

intimate moss garden

intimate moss garden by the Shoin House
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

a cool woodland

a cool woodland with azalea hillside
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

a distant paradise island

distant paradise island seen from the entry bridge
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Dr. Koichi Kawana (1930-1990) designed more than a dozen major Japanese gardens in the United States, including Seiwa-en at the Missouri Botanical Garden and Shofu-en at the Denver Botanic Gardens. In addition, he was a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he lectured on Japanese art, landscape design and architecture. Dedicated in 1982, Sansho-en celebrated its 30th birthday the day we visited in June.

Elizabeth Hubert Malott Japanese Garden dedication plaque

dedication plaque for Elizabeth Hubert Malott Japanese Garden reads: “Her childhood years in the Orient fostered a lifelong respect for and love of Japanese culture and landscape.”
(dedication 2006; this image 2011)

Sansho-en also is called the Elizabeth Hubert Malott Japanese Garden. An endowment was created for the Elizabeth Hubert Malott Japanese Garden through a gift from the Malott Family Foundation in 2006, when the garden was re-dedicated. Income from the endowment will provide funds to maintain the Japanese Garden and provide programs that teach visitors about Japanese culture and history.

Mary Plunkett travels by cart.

Mary Plunkett travels by maintenance cart between gardens on a busy day.
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Mary Plunkett is manager of Interpretive Programs at Chicago Botanic Garden and oversees seven gardens. There are nearly 200 interpretive volunteer positions throughout Chicago Botanic, 20 in the Japanese garden.

Plunkett came to Chicago Botanic Garden 11 years ago with a background in volunteer management. “Nobody comes here to give poor information. Everyone comes with a good heart and desire to be helpful to our curious visitors, so my job is to encourage and inform them,” Plunkett said. “A volunteer generally is here two times a month. If you want a good volunteer program you have to have staff to support them. We are so lucky to have that support.”

“Our volunteers are here Wednesday through Sunday through the first weekend in October. We track nearly 35,000 visitor encounters during a season,” Plunkett said.

display of carpentry tools and karesansui rake

tools display: carpentry tools on the board and karesansui rake leaning against the board at a NAJGA regional meeting in 2011

Volunteers have an extensive document of information, history, tool identification and frequently asked questions for training and reference. A board to which various tools are attached aids in explaining their uses.

tool board detail

detail of tool board

tool board detail

descriptive text for the sumitsubo (ink pot)

“Volunteers can be a driving force in the garden,” said senior horticulturist Benjamin Carroll. “They have such enthusiasm. It’s really important for us to recognize their work and express gratitude regularly.”

Edie Rowell at Shoin House

Edie Rowell prepares to open Shoin House
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Edie Rowell is in her fifth season as a garden volunteer. She spends one day a week in the Malott Japanese Garden and one day “digging in the fruit and vegetable garden.”

“Visitors do not go inside the Shoin House. We speak to them from the engawa, explain the construction, tools, type of garden and so forth,” Rowell said. “This is not a tea house. Tea houses are usually smaller – four and a half to six tatami size. This is a 23 tatami house. Shoin rooms started out as the study of Buddhist monks. The style morphed into the Camp David of its day – a man cave for a very high ranking man, a retreat house for a daimyo where one’s equilibrium could be restored.”

volunteer on the engawa of Shoin House

a volunteer encounter with visitors to Shoin House
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Benjamin Carroll in the tool shed

Benjamin Carroll demonstrates placement of a peg to which twine is attached to shape trees.
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

The senior horticulturist at Chicago Botanic Garden, Benjamin Carroll obtained his B.S. in horticulture, Writtle College in Essex, England. Carroll was employed for two years at Cambridge University Botanic Garden before joining the Chicago Botanic Garden staff. He is a director-at-large for the North American Japanese Garden Association (NAJGA).

gift shop at Chicago Botanic Garden

Chicago Botanic Garden gift shop in the Visitor Center
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Chicago Botanic Garden’s facilities are truly delightful. The Visitor Center adjacent to the parking area offers an extensive and well stocked gift shop on the right, an abundant café on the left, an information desk and “Ask A Master Gardener” service. Educational classes, children’s programs, seasonal displays, and membership benefits are a few of the many offerings.

Chicago Botanic Garden offers 25 gardens on 385 acres. Roughly 60 acres are covered by water. There is no admission charge for Chicago Botanic Garden. There is a fee for parking. To plan your visit, check out the web site for hours, directions, parking fee, transportation, what’s in bloom, etc.

http://www.chicagobotanic.org/visit/

To see a 7 ½ minute video in Malott Garden uploaded by Benjamin Carroll to You Tube in 2009, visit:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQtay6II840

one example of the bonsai collection

Near the Regenstein Center, a bonsai collection is displayed in outdoor courtyards.

bonsai courtyard on a sunny day

CBG cafe

in the cafeteria, a sign in a table arrangement of potted herbs reminds one of various ways to contribute to the Chicago Botanic Garden

For other planting tips from Benjamin Carroll, check out the following short stories:

Benjamin Carroll planting bulbs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_6g7BtY06I

WGN-TV interview on houseplants during the winter

http://www.wgntv.com/videogallery/66815502/News/Benjamin-Carroll-from-the-Chicago-Botanic-Garden-answers-your-questions

Hope for healing the planet

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcUoX5kAcbU

Photos not otherwise credited are by K.T. Cannon-Eger. Click on any photo to see a full size image.

bridge with seasonal floral display

the entry bridge between the Visitor Center and the Crescent Garden in fall

bridge with seasonal floral display

the bridge between the Visitor Center and the Crescent Garden bedecked with summer blooms

Categories: Glencoe, Illinois | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Serenity Garden offers a healing environment

Whispering Woods Serenity Circle
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

“We all need a place where we can get away from the hustle and stress of life, a place of peace and tranquility. When we find that place, we find strength. The Rosecrance Serenity Garden is such a place. These gardens are meant to be a part of the healing process offered by this incredible facility where miracles happen,” stated John Anderson, philanthropist.

Serenity Garden is located on the grounds of the Rosecrance Griffin Williamson Campus, an adolescent treatment center in Rockford, Illinois. The new 50 acre campus, which opened in 2004, includes this six acre garden designed by Hoichi Kurisu to provide a healing environment to nourish ongoing recovery for youth and their families.

welcoming waterfall near the entrance — a feature sometimes not noticed when a person enters treatment, but frequently noticed when they leave

Through the Experiential Therapies Department, the garden is used for guided meditation to help adolescents relax and reflect on recovery. Every week, the young people become aware of their basic senses: sight, sound, taste, touch and smell.

It is the setting for family visits, individual counseling, private journaling and other contemplative activities. The overall objective of horticultural therapy is to cultivate physical and emotional stability and spiritual awareness through nature in a structured environment.

K.T. typing one-handed on her iPad while interviewing Christine

“This garden is designed around the healing qualities of a Japanese garden integrated with the 12 steps of recovery,” said Christine Nicholson, Experiential Therapies Supervisor.

“Each week we deal meditation techniques designed to teach our young people how to be at peace with the calm and ‘boredom’ known as serenity.

“One week I might ask them ‘What kind of water are you?’ which always gets them going. Raindrop, waterfall, ocean wave – it’s a way to get them thinking about the world outside their heads,” Nicholson said.

cedar Serenity Bridge, #6 on the map
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Being in a garden with streams, waterfalls and a large pond offers several examples as well as an abundance of locations for group and solitary activities. Kurisu describes boulders as the garden’s bone structure and water as the lifeblood running through it.

“As you stand on the deck, you view the action of the waterfall. We watch it come down to the calm surface and feel the serenity of the pond. It reminds us that we are never alone in the universe,” said Kurisu.

Cascading Waterfall, item #9 on the map

“Another week, I may say, ‘You are the earth. How do people walk on you? As the earth, how do you give to people,” Nicholson said.

“One teenager described the activity of raking gravel as ‘massaging my brain’.”

bell used in graduation ceremonies, item #5 on map
“Life’s Waiting” carved in stone at the base of the bell tower is the motto of Rosecrance.
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

A graduation ceremony involves ringing the bell in recognition of the ancient tradition of seeking purification within a sacred place and the desire for a balanced life. A new element of crossing the bridge will be added to graduation ceremonies, according to Nicholson.

Healing Garden Tour [text and map courtesy of Rosecrance]

1. Wooden bridge: this is where an Acer palmatum dissectum adds a splash of red to an otherwise green palette.

Acer palmatum dissectum recently trimmed
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

2. Courtyard and serenity circle: Serenity circles are places where residents, families and visitors can pause to reflect and view the garden. This is the largest and most formal of the serenity circles. The stream running through the courtyard makes 12 drops (for the 12 Step Program) before reaching the pond.

3. Winding walk: Curves in the path remind users that the journey is not straight and life reveals itself slowly. At the peak of the walk is Peaceful Passage Serenity Circle.

4. The pond: The pond, which is 13’ deep at the center, is supplied with both rain and city water. Koi, bluegill and bass thrive in the pond. From the landing, you can take in the full scope of the pond, formal garden, mountain waterfall and natural forest backdrop.

5. Bell tower: When an adolescent successfully completes treatment, the bell is struck as an announcement to the community.

6. Serenity bridge: This bridge is pitched like a mountain because one must work to get to a better place. The use of cedar, an aromatic wood, engages another one of the senses.

Similar to the flagstone bridge mentioned in #7, this bridge is in the #2 courtyard.
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

7. Open stone bridge: The flagstone walkway over the river is deceptive to the eye, giving the appearance of being fragile, but holding great strength.

# 8 on map, Stepping Stone bridge

8. Stepping Stone bridges: At the top and bottom of the waterfall, a stepping stone bridge invites you to cross the flowing water safely. This fall also makes 12 drops before a final plunge into the pond.

9. Cascading waterfall: In the style of a Japanese garden, water in our Healing Garden flows only in a way that is totally natural. Anchored by a 40-ton boulder, the large waterfall moves more than 1,200 gallons of water per minute. The falling water strikes the stones in three locations, adding depth of sound. A “guardian stone,” the protector of the garden, juts out of the pool at the waterfall’s base.

10. Grateful outlook: The highest point of the garden represents the top of the mountain. To observe the natural woods beyond the garden, you must look through the evergreen trees, which form a natural frame for the scene. Note how the sound of the waterfall is muffled by the stones.

weeping willow at the tip of the peninsula
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

11. The peninsula: The peninsula is a reminder of the island nation of Japan where water and land intertwine.

12. Cobblestone bridge: Water from the winding river flows under the bridge to the tranquil pond.

minimally structured path into the woods
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Healing Gardens

“A healing garden is a natural space that has a therapeutic effect on those who are open to the experience. In a healing or serenity garden there is a deliberate acknowledgement that not all healing is the result of medicine or treatment. Sometimes it comes from unexpected places such as through a connection to the natural world. The elements of the garden engage all of our senses. They offer a positive distraction to everyday life, encourage interaction and provide a connection with nature’s rhythms.” From Rosecrance Serenity Garden overview.

“There is a tremendous grace and energy inherent in such ancient rhythms,” said Kurisu. “At once calming and exuberant, the natural elements remind one of how it is possible to feel, to breathe, to live with inspiration – hastening the rediscovery of a self in harmony with a world not chaotic and destructive, but full of regenerative potential.”

split log bench

The History of Rosecrance

Dr. and Mrs. James Rosecrance left provisions in 1916 for their homestead to become an orphanage for boys. Today, Rosecrance provides help, hope and recovery to families who struggle with alcohol and other drug addictions.

“We believe that addiction to alcohol and other drugs is a chronic, primary and progressive disease with multiple causes that affect the social, physical, cultural and emotional components of an individual’s life. Successful treatment requires a comprehensive program to address problems and prepare for a lasting recovery. Our programs are based on the disease model of addiction and the 12 Step treatment philosophy.”

For more information, go to the Rosecrance web site:

http://www.rosecrance.org

Photos not otherwise credited in this blog are by K.T. Cannon-Eger. Click on any image for a full size view.

Rosecrance is a smoke-free campus. This private garden generally is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekends.

Check in with the reception desk is required to secure a visitor’s badge and sign a liability waiver before touring the gardens. The receptionist must be notified if you wish to take photographs. The final general rule is “Stay on the path.”

Categories: Illinois, Rockford | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford, Illinois, provides a place of peace

The crunch of gravel underfoot, the plash of water in the distance, the interplay of textures all are part of experiencing Anderson Japanese Gardens.

“In order to comprehend the beauty of a Japanese garden, it is necessary to understand — or at least to learn to understand — the beauty of stones — not quarried but of stones shaped by nature only.”

Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904)

The World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition that opened in New Orleans December 16, 1884, introduced author Lafcadio Hearn to Japanese culture. He was so smitten that he moved to Japan, taught and married there eventually becoming a citizen of Japan. This kind of love story gets repeated countless times right up to our modern era, but not always with the same ending.

In 1966 after graduating from the University of Wisconsin John R. Anderson visited a friend of his father’s Mr. Akira Ohno, a trip that began Anderson’s life-long appreciation for Japanese gardens. In 1978, on a business trip to Portland, Oregon, he visited and admired the Japanese garden there. He asked the name of the designer, and was told Hoichi Kurisu. By the fall of 1978, Kurisu was at work constructing a Japanese garden at the Anderson home, a new residence for him and wife Linda and their growing family in Rockford, Illinois.

Over time, the garden expanded to its present 14 acres. In 1998, Mr. and Mrs. Anderson donated the gardens to a nonprofit organization.

gateway to a private path
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

In 1992, John Anderson was recognized for his outstanding work in promoting international friendship and mutual understanding between the United States and Japan with a commemorative silver cup from the Japanese government. In 2012 the Emperor of Japan bestowed The Order of the Rising Sun with Gold and Silver Rays on Anderson.

In commenting on the presentation, the Consulate General of Japan in Chicago noted: “This award, which is one of highest honors given to foreign nationals, commends Mr. Anderson’s lifelong contributions to the promotion of Japanese culture in the US and Japan-US friendship through the construction of Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford, Illinois, and the hosting of various cultural events such as tea ceremonies and ikebana demonstrations, as well as promoting Japanese language education through regular classes open to the public. Anderson Japanese Gardens is renowned for its authenticity, and is widely considered to be the best Japanese garden in North America.”

Educational programs at the Anderson Gardens cover the language, arts, and culture of Japan, and since 1995, the gardens have hosted Rockford’s Annual Festival Celebration of Japanese Arts, which includes formal tea ceremonies, ikebana and calligraphy demonstrations, and bonsai displays. A display of tokonoma scrolls is planned for August 23-25.

A selection from the Anderson collection of tokonoma scrolls will be on display August 23-25.
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Hoichi Kurisu is the designer responsible for the beauty found at Anderson Japanese Gardens. Kurisu graduated from Tokyo’s Waseda University and spent many years in Tokyo, Japan studying under Mr. Kenzo Ogata, one of Japan’s renowned landscape designers.

Kurisu came to the United States in 1968 to accept the position of Director of Landscaping at the Japanese garden complex in Washington Park Gardens, Portland, Oregon. He was the second of nine trained gardeners to work at Portland carrying out the designs of Professor Takuma Tono. In 1972 he founded Kurisu International, Inc. with offices in Oregon and Florida. Other major projects include Roji-en, the George and Harriet Cornell Japanese Garden at the Morikami Museum in Delray Beach, Florida; Lebanon Community Hospital in Oregon; and Serenity Gardens at Rosecrance in Rockford.

(photo by Bill F. Eger)

For more on Hoichi Kurisu, view his web site at http://www.kurisu.com/ and be sure to check out the portfolio of completed work and videos of work in progress.

Kurisu continues to this day to ensure continuous improvement of the grounds and design of Anderson Japanese Gardens. One person glad for the continuing education in Japanese garden design is Tim Gruner, curator of the Anderson Japanese Gardens for the past 25 years.

bridge near blooming iris
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Gruner is a 1987 graduate of the Kishwaukee College Horticulture program. His early interest in public gardens included working at Kishwaukee College’s AAS Trial Gardens and a one year internship at Chicago Botanic Garden. He also volunteered for nine weeks at the Robert and Catherine Wilson Tropical Botanical Gardens in Costa Rica.

(photo by Bill F. Eger)

An in-demand speaker on the subject, Gruner brings warmth and humor along with his encyclopedic knowledge.

This spring, he gave a photo-illustrated lecture “Patterns and Rhythms in Nature that Inspire Japanese Gardens and the Connection between Garden and Architecture” in which he illustrated Kurisu’s genius for integrating the geometric, man-made lines of structures and pathways with the asymmetrical, curving, organic forms most often found in nature. There is a restful green palette. There is an appeal to all senses: the sound of water falling or flowing, the crunch of gravel on the path underfoot, the clack of bamboo moving in a wind. Such a garden also acknowledges that nature is ever-changing with the seasons and years.

careful raking near the guest house
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Recently, Gruner wrote about Anderson Japanese Gardens for the North American Japanese Garden Association (NAJGA).

“Much of what guides Japanese garden design is derived from patterns and rhythms found in nature; the general pattern formed by trees growing along streams and on slopes, the nature of a stream cascading down a mountain or winding through a gentle meadow, the gradual transition of the seasons marked by ephemeral blooms,” Gruner wrote.

outside the guest house

“At their best, Japanese gardens can induce a positive emotional response felt by the human viewer that one might experience in a place of natural beauty. A sense of peace, calm, tranquility, an opportunity for fresh clear thought, awe of nature’s creativity and its ability to rejuvenate are some of the things that can occur in a garden space that might exist in the middle of a busy city or in one’s own back yard,” Gruner said.

“It can be said that in traditional Japanese culture, nature and humanity were considered part of the same thing. In a Japanese garden, this connection can be viewed in a simple way. Nature’s influence can be seen as the organic component of the garden with its natural shapes and curvilinear lines, while humanity’s influence can be seen as the geometric component based primarily on the right angles of its architecture and cultivated fields.”

one of several split log benches slightly off the beaten path
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

“Together nature’s patterns and rhythms are carefully combined with humanity’s architecture to form a Japanese garden. In essence, the garden and its architecture come together to form one space.

“While the architecture is geometric in nature, it is composed of natural materials such as clean grained unpainted wood, stucco the color of clay earth, stone under posts and as foundations, and bamboo fences and gates,” Gruner said.

“Nature flows into the architecture. Conversely, architecture flows into nature via parallel lines and materials that project from architecture into the landscape. A two-way osmosis occurs where the architecture absorbs aspects of nature and the garden absorbs aspects of the architecture for a more or less seamless flow from one to the other.”

Tim Gruner joined the Board of Directors of the North American Japanese Garden Association in 2011.

The new pavilion offers a venue for outdoor events.
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

The Anderson Japanese Gardens mission statement from their web site:

http://andersongardens.org

“In our hectic and stressful world, Anderson Japanese Gardens opens minds to a different culture while offering guests a place of peace and tranquility where they will find healing, renewal, inspiration, and a re-energized soul.”

at the guest house
(Bill F. Eger)

Core values espoused by the non-profit:

“We are an authentic Japanese Garden maintained by the highest of standards that touches the soul of our guests. With grace, elegance, and gentle awareness we exemplify the Japanese cultural heritage of respectful humility in service to people of all cultures.”

careful pruning continues
(Bill F. Eger)

Anderson Japanese Gardens is located 90 miles west of Chicago in Rockford, Illinois. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, $6 for students, and free for children 5 years of age and under. The garden’s primary season is May 1 to October 31. Hours are Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information and maps, consult the Anderson Japanese Gardens’ web site.

An Do So — House of Peace
(and a play on the name Anderson)
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Photos not otherwise credited in this blog are by K.T. Cannon-Eger. Click on any image for a full size view.

Categories: Illinois, Rockford | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

More railroad fan photos

Old fashioned stations continued to be our delight as we traveled through Texas to St. Louis, Chicago, Denver, and Grand Junction ending at a newer station in Emeryville near San Francisco.

Fort Worth Texas makes use of portions of the old Union Station.

Inside, Fort Worth offers old style benches. (photo by Bill F. Eger)

Train for St. Louis arrives on track 3 in Fort Worth, TX.

Chicago’s old Union Station undergoing renovation

underground entry from the old station to the newer arrival and departure area across the street in Chicago, IL

I haven’t mentioned food. It was EXCELLENT and freshly prepared for every meal. We dined on BBQ ribs, breaded chicken, salmon, tilapia, steak, shrimp Benedict, lamb shank, and more and everything was delicious.

We went deeper in to the history of trains in the Chicago area with a visit to the Museum of Science and Industry before heading out back to Osaka Garden at Jackson Park, what once was known as Wooded Island at the 1893 Columbia Exposition.

Empire State Express engine 999 in the Museum of Science and Industry — as fascinating a place to me now as it was when I was a child.

poster describing the Empire Express engine 999 at the 1893 Columbian Exposition

Another spot to gain more insight into historical details was the Chicago Art Institute. We had just enough time after checking our large bags in the morning to grab a cab and spend a couple of hours wandering around another old haunt for each of us: me from my childhood and Bill from his college days at University of Chicago.

These tiles came from the Railway Exchange Building on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, also known as the Santa Fe Building.

a museum tag explains the origin of the tiles and the connection to the 1893 Columbian Exposition

In Denver, we chose The Oxford Hotel because of its proximity to Union Station only to find that the station is undergoing a three year renovation which will result in combined services being available there. Meanwhile, the temporary station is quite a few blocks away. I would stay at the Oxford Hotel again at the drop of a hat. Wonderful staff, service, accommodations and location.

Denver’s Union Station at night

Denver’s Union Station from the front door of The Oxford Hotel

Another wonderful advantage to train travel is the view through LARGE windows. It was such a difference from the somewhat dangerous escapade of trying to see something from a speeding car while maintaining safety on the highway.

huge view of the changing countryside and geology as the train moved from Denver to Grand Junction, Colorado

The new station in Grand Junction, Colorado is right next to the old one, now closed and boarded up.

old Grand Junction sign notes “elevation 4,578” and “population 28,000”

heading west from Grand Junction through Utah and Nevada

a town in California advertises itself as “above the fog, below the snow”

End of the line — at least as far as train travel on this journey is concerned — at Emeryville, California.

Unless otherwise credited, photos in this blog are by K.T. Cannon-Eger. Click on any image for a full-size view.

Categories: Amtrak, California, Chicago, Colorado, Denver, Grand Junction, Illinois | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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

Another glimpse of things to come…

While computers are getting back to normal, we continue our journey on the west coast in the San Francisco Bay area — our last stop before heading home to Hawaii.

Recently we posted a photo from each of several places as yet unaccompanied by a longer article. Those places included San Antonio, Austin, Fort Worth and Dallas in Texas, and St. Louis in Missouri.

Here a few more images — a glimpse of things to come — from Rockford, Glencoe and Chicago, Illinois.

Images from Denver and Grand Junction, Colorado, and Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco, California, remain for another post.

Unless otherwise credited, photographs in this blog are by K.T. Cannon-Eger. You may see a full size image by clicking on any one of the photos.

a detail from one of my favorite pathways — this one is outside the guesthouse at the Anderson Japanese garden in Rockford, Illinois

Designed by Hoichi Kurisu, the garden at Rosecrance in Rockford, IL, offers adolescents in recovery many places to connect with their natural surroundings, to meditate, to write in their journals and to reconnect to the lives that await them beyond the garden.

a classic design ornaments a water basin outside the retreat house (shoin) at Sansho-en in the Elizabeth Hubert Malott Japanese Garden at Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, IL

Osaka Garden on the Wooded Island in Jackson Park, Chicago, IL, has a long history reaching back to the Japanese exhibit at the World’s Columbian Exposition (The Chicago World’s Fair of 1893). The garden was recently refurbished under the direction of Sadafumi Uchiyama.

More than 20 years ago, the Hotel Nikko opened along the river in Chicago, IL, with a Japanese garden designed by David Engle. The garden has been totally redone under Westin management. A few suggestions of a Japanese garden remain, but it is not what it once was.

Categories: Chicago, Glencoe, Illinois, Rockford | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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