Michele, a self-proclaimed medium green, combines her enthusiasm for communicating about the green industry, with a deep appreciation for all things gardening. Her blogs provide information from the homeowner’s perspective, moving between what works now and what the future might hold.
Nestled on the grounds of the historic Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, sits the serene and restful Japanese Garden. I first encountered this peaceful garden with wide eyes and a fascination for learning while studying horticulture. But on this day, I saw the garden in a totally different light.
The landscape design for the garden began in 1970, and was finished in 1974 representing the friendship between Buffalo and its sister city, Kanazawa, Japan. The original design contained over 1,000 plantings, nearly 20 globe-type lights and, three small islands connected to the mainland by bridges. Since then the garden was re-landscaped and re-dedicated in 1996. With such history, I was eager to enter the garden.
You are greeted at the entrance of the 38-year old Japanese Garden by a Japanese lace-leaf maple, perennial geraniums and creeping juniper surrounding a cement marker. Entering the garden, you follow wide, gravel-paved steps lined with cherry blossom trees and garden beds, edged with varying heights of wood containing hostas. The steps lead down a small knoll to Delaware Park’s Mirror Lake where greeting you at the bottom is a triangle garden bed with a hydrangea, another specimen red maple, and a plant I’m not familiar with. Can you identify it?
With octagon pavers now underfoot, I got my first glimpse of a tranquil Mirror Lake and the heart of the garden. Down the path with Mirror Lake on my left, you have two options: continue straight down Jesse Kregal Pathway or take a right and climb the natural stone stairway, built with stones from Japan. I was drawn to the latter and was rewarded with the number of plants along the way. My ascent up the hill was slow and steady as I studied every plant, where it was planted, and how it worked in the landscape. There were specimen Japanese pines and maples, stone lanterns, viburnums, hydrangeas, astilbe, hostas, and at the top a Japanese Shinto Gate constructed without nails, imported from Japan for the garden.
Slowly descending from the hill, I had a spectacular view of the three small islands in Mirror Lake. There to were more stone lanterns, grasses, Japanese pines, rocks and a cement bridge connecting the islands. I also spied a Japanese larch tree on the shore.
Returning to the path, I was struck by how peaceful and quiet the garden was despite sharing the path with a few runners, a biker and an artist capturing the picture of the three islands. As I turned back to the entrance I was dodging sprinklers from the new irrigation system installed in mid-July.
The Japanese Garden will be on display this weekend for the 2012 Buffalo Garden Walk, the free, self-guided tour of more than 370 Buffalo gardens. I spotted a few landscapers from the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy working hard for the expected mass of visitors!