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Japanese Garden

Posted by cahnrs.webteam | December 20, 2013


  • Serene, natural setting to encourage reflection and meditation
  • Raked sand garden
  • Design true to Japanese garden style

Take an audio tour:


The purpose of the Japanese Garden is to create a serene space for reflection, meditation and self-examination. Many methods are used to achieve this goal.

“Without nothing, you cannot have something”…sparseness is a central principle of Japanese gardening. Plantings are kept simple and a feeling of emptiness is allowed.

“A Garden for All Seasons”…time and space are important concepts in the Japanese garden. The garden is the space. The changing seasons represent time. This garden is designed to be enjoyed in all seasons. A fall display of chrysanthemums is seen here.

“Native elements”  like the stones, gravel and sand are those found in the Tri-Cities area. Likewise, the plants are those suited to our climate.

“Nature is the ideal”… A fountain would not represent nature but a waterfall can. Rocks can symbolize whole mountains. A small stretch of raked sand can become an entire ocean.

Rocks play an important role role; they may be used as sculpture, a background for plantings, as stepping stones or as a bridge. Rocks of different sizes and shapes in the path illustrate the uneasiness and junctures of life. A single rock in a path can represent a significant wayfarer on its way along the path.

Texture and shape changes also provide interest. The soft rustling sound of bamboo seems synonymous with a Japanese garden. Unfortunately many true bamboos are invasive. Originally bamboo was planted in this garden with a long sleeve around the trunk and underground to control spread. However, the bamboo has been removed because it is not recommended for home gardens, and the risk of invasion was too high. “Heavenly Bamboo” (Nandina domestica) is not a true bamboo but its appearance with spring blossoms, berries and beautiful fall color makes it a very desirable substitute.

The bridge represents a journey. One can reflect on how it relates to life’s transitions from peace to the outer world. Beneath the bridge gravel represents water. Three levels of rock-edged sand represent a waterfall that flows downward and under the bridge.

While moss would be a typical groundcover in Japan, it is not native here. True to the principle of using native plants, creeping thyme and sedums have been used. Once other plants in the garden mature enough to provide more shad, Mondo grass, Japanese iris, and Hosta may be used.

Every Japanese Garden includes a basic focus referred to as a principle tree – here an oak tree. Another plant focus is an overhanging tree – here a flowering plum. In spring its overhanging branches shower snowy blossoms into the “lake”. Other trees typical of a Japanese garden are:  weeping larch, several maples, “Kwanzan” cherry and “Gold Cone” Juniper.


See the other gardens


1620 S. Union
Kennewick, Washington

(In Kennewick’s Grange Park behind the Mid-Columbia Library)

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Your donation will help the Demonstration Garden stay beautiful.

Donations are tax deductible and are made to the Master Gardener Foundation of Benton Franklin County, a 501(c)3 organization.  Donations of any size are appreciated.

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