Happy anniversary – the garden has been open to the public for 24 years!
I have many memories of the Japanese Garden during its creation and I distinctly remember the day it opened 24 years ago on the 1st May 1997.
I was 11 years old and two of my school friends were selected to cut the ribbon across the garden entrance to officially open the garden to the public. That day was filled with excitement and anticipation as my parents epic amount of hard work and passion for their project was finally going to be open to review by the public.
A television crew arrived in the afternoon to film a few shots of the garden and a shot of me and my best friend were captured walking down one of the pathways – a huge moment for me at that age to be on TV.
The garden was buzzing with visitors and the response to the hard work and beauty that was so evident from the place was overwhelmingly positive.
Image above -View across the pond during early development (approx 1992)
Image above – View across the pond shot last week (April 2021)
It is quite unbelievable to me that 24 years has passed since that day. The garden has been expanded, changed and grown so much in this time but it still holds true to the original design and the tranquility and feeling of the space is undeniable. It is a very rare day when a visitor doesn’t come out from the garden more relaxed than when they went in. It has always seemed like a kind of magic to me.
My parents (Robert and Stella) both acknowledged that the peace and energy in the garden was already present when they began their project and they felt that it was of the highest importance that the feeling was not stripped out during the development and implementation of their design. Their sensitivity and keen eyes not only maintained the feeling but opened it up to countless visitors who have been touched by the space ever since.
In 2015 when Robert and Stella decided to retire, my partner (Stuart) and I (Natalie) accepted the challenge to maintain the garden and in 2016 we took the reins. Our experience has been quite remarkable since we made the decision and we have worked harder than we had ever done before because the garden requires such devotion. This hard work is rewarded every time a visitor comes out from the garden with a smile or is blown away by the feeling in the garden and when someone tells us we are a ‘hidden gem’.
Last year (2020) was an incredible test as it has been for everyone, but we are coming back strong in 2021 and we hope to celebrate a whole quarter of a century open next year!
Hope everyone is staying safe and we look forward to seeing you soon
Check out photos from this week in the garden – pictured below –