Japanese garden in Hood River offers ideas for your own yard

Japanese Heritage Garden. (Photo by Elizabeth Daniel)
The public Japanese Heritage Garden in Hood River photographed in spring. (Photo by Elizabeth Daniel)
Last Updated: 
February 22, 2013

 HOOD RIVER, Ore. – Tucked away in a corner of a public garden in Hood River, the Japanese Heritage Garden offers an unexpected place of quiet reflection.

The site, maintained by Master Gardeners who were trained by the Oregon State University Extension Service, incorporates the scenic vistas of hills and orchards, which were worked by the first generation of Japanese immigrants to the Hood River Valley in the early 1900s.

An old Norway spruce tree surrounded by raked gravel forms a centerpiece. A six-foot Nishinoya-style lantern sits at the entrance. Benches and stone-paved pathways guide visitors.

Former Master Gardener Rita Saling started the project as a way to honor the contributions of Japanese-Americans to the Hood River Valley. Sadafumi Uchiyama, curator of the Portland Japanese Garden, designed the 1,000-square-foot plot, which Master Gardeners established in 2009 and continue to maintain.

The garden is open to the public year-round, 24 hours a day, and is at 3005 Experiment Station Drive.

"If Master Gardeners are doing a project, we're always willing to talk to anybody who shows up," said Laurel DeTar, a Master Gardener in Hood River who helped plant the first flowers and shrubs. "Walking in the Japanese garden is always lovely because with the benches, you can come and sit and look over the whole valley and be quiet and peaceful."

A brochure describes the garden's design. Here are some pointers on Japanese garden design from the brochure and maintenance tips from DeTar:

  • Japanese gardening incorporates an entire philosophy with horticulture. Gardens in the Japanese style always feature the three elements of stone, water and plantings.
  • The stone element can incorporate rocks, cobbles, gravel and sand. The element of water can involve real or suggested water.
  • Common trees in Japanese gardens include Japanese maple, Japanese Stewartia, Japanese plum, Japanese snowbell and the serviceberry.
  • Common shrubs include azaleas, purple beautybush, buttercup winter hazel, tree peony, enkianthus, flowering currant and Japanese yew.
  • Common perennials/ground covers include columbine, lily turf, spider lily and balloon flower.
  • Stone-paved pathways through Japanese gardens are intended not only for access to the garden but also for meditation.
  • Hand-weed the garden, an activity that provides an opportunity for meditation.
  • For gravel areas, rake a fresh pattern at least once per month.
  • Use drip irrigation to water the garden to reduce maintenance requirements.
  • Prune for the aesthetics of shape and maximum light. Prune mostly during the dormant winter season.
Author: Denise Ruttan
Source: Laurel DeTar