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08.04.16 – Luncheon Notes

SPOKES Notes written by Shannon Kolarik

Thursday’s meeting took place at the beautiful Frederik Meijer Gardens. David Hooker, President and CEO of the Gardens, shared with us the story of how The Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden came to be.

Once the decision was made to add a Japanese Garden to Frederik Meijer Gardens, David and his team reached out to Hoichi Kurisu to design it. Kurisu was born in Japan prior to WWII and is a Hiroshima survivor. He would forage and hunt for food during that desolate time in his family’s life and that started his love of horticulture. Immigrating to Portland, Oregon in 1979, Kurisu created his own landscape design/build firm and made a life for himself in the states. After meeting with David and his team, Kurisu took 3 days, designed the gardens, and presented his creation, blowing everyone away.

The Meijers’ and DeVos’ funded the project and the Japanese Garden was completed ahead of schedule and under the budget, opening its doors on June 13, 2015.

What is a Japanese Garden? (5 Concepts)
1. Traditional and innovative
a. No steps – purposefully accessible by all
b. Contemporary sculptures throughout
2. An artfully manipulated space based on a reverence for nature
a. i.e. Trees planted on an angle and boulders as “anchors” for the garden
3. Intentional design that emphasizes space
a. Reflective gardens
b. Hills for viewpoints
c. “Ma” – the space in between and you relate to it
4. Highly sensory experience
a. Flower scents
b. Plants to touch
c. Colors and depth – everything meant to be seen and absorbed
d. Sound – water features
5. Contemplative environment
a. Designed to slow you down

Fun Fact: Kurisu personally oversaw the placement of each boulder within the garden expressing that these are the bolts that hold the garden in place and everything else grows and evolves around it.

The meeting concluded with President Sytsma presenting David with Rotary’s water filter donation and an application for Rotary membership, followed by a tour of the Japanese Gardens for those who were interested.

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