Last May for Mother's Day weekend we met the kids and grandkids in Rockford, Illinois. It was a good halfway meeting point for all of us: around a four hour drive. Our first stop was a picnic lunch at the Nicholas Conservatory Gardens, which I wrote all about in LAST WEEK's POST. After our meal and tour around those gardens, we then got back in our cars and drove five minutes away to our next and main attraction: Anderson Japanese Gardens.
The Anderson Japanese Gardens is a twelve acre garden that was originally the swampy backyard of Rockford businessman John Anderson. He was inspired by a visit to the Portland Japanese Garden in Oregon that he hired Hoichi Kurisu in 1978 to transform his yard into the beauty it is today. In 1998 the Andersons donated the garden to the Rockford Rotary Charitable Association.
Anderson Japanese Garden has been named one of the highest quality Japanese Gardens in North America by Sukiya Living Magazine since 2004. And I must say, after seeing it myself, I totally agree. This is an impeccable, GORGEOUS, Japanese Garden!
Spring is a great time to visit a Japanese Garden. As most people know, Japanese Gardens generally are not known for their flowers. Their design is one of peace and tranquility. Three essential elements are found in a Japanese Garden: stone (which forms the structure of the landscape), water (representing life-giving force) and plants (which provide the color and changes throughout the seasons).
In the spring, all the beautiful flowering shrubs and trees are in bloom. We were so lucky to be there when the azaleas, dogwood, and magnolias were in full bloom. It was stunning!
There are many Japanese structures throughout the gardens. The one below is the first one you see when entering the gardens. It is the "Event Pavilion - Moyoshiba" where many special events such as the "Tuesday Evening Music Series", the "Japanese Summer Festival", and private weddings are held.
Directly across from the Event Pavilion is the "Garden of Reflection". This is a beautiful pond filled with large koi. Because it was spring, we had the joy of seeing baby goslings too! The grandchildren loved that.
At the far end of the pond there are three Angel sculptures...can you see them? John Anderson purchased them to honor his parents and his Swedish heritage.
Below is the "Main Gate - Seimon". It is a formal transition point between the contemporary Garden of Reflection and the traditional gardens.
Across from the Main Gate was the perfect spot to take photos with the gorgeous Azalea Bush and Japanese Maple.
The Anderson Japanese Gardens has many interesting Japanese Sculptures throughout its landscape.
Here is a far away shot of the area we stopped to take photos of ourselves. What a great photo
opportunity! You couldn't ask for a prettier backdrop.
Water is everywhere in this garden! There are two large ponds, waterfalls, and a creek that runs through the entire garden.
Where there is water, there has to be bridges to cross over the water. They had so many different types of bridges, as you will see for yourself when you finish reading this post. My grandchildren loved crossing all the bridges.
A small concrete and wood bridge.
I think our favorite was this little curved wooden bridge. The grandkids loved feeding the koi. You can buy koi and duck feed at the entrance to the park.
This is the path to the "Guest House - Sukiya "Andoso"'. There are large picture windows in front of the house, so you can see inside the house, but you can't physically go inside. I couldn't get any pictures because right in front of the house is a raked gravel garden which you can't step on or you'll mess it up, and if I couldn't back up into the gravel, I couldn't get the house in my camera view.
Here is the raked gravel garden. It is composed of crushed limestone. The raked patterns often represent motifs related to water. We did have a good chuckle at the duck. He did not obey the "Stay off the gravel" signs one bit!
Here's my Sweet Alethea! These gardens have so many dreamy spots to take gorgeous portraits. Plus we were blessed with a cloudy day so we never had to worry about the harsh sunlight.
I loved how everywhere we walked we saw wildlife. These ducks were everywhere: in the grass, in the water, in the woods, and even where they shouldn't be like the raked gravel garden.
The grandchildren LOVED this garden. My daughter was so surprised how much they enjoyed themselves. She thought they would be bored. I said "I think it's because there are so many bridges and secret little places to explore. The whole garden is like one big "secret garden" because you never know what's around the corner". The grandkids really loved climbing all the steps, feeding the geese and koi, seeing all the ponds and waterfalls, and walking across all the many unique bridges.
And what perfect timing to take some maternity photos. A few of you noticed in my "Alethea & Atticus Birthday Celebrations" post that my daughter was expecting again. She is going to have another little boy mid-September.
This is "Pond Strolling Garden". There is a small boardwalk that gets you right above the water.
Across the pond is the "Viewing House - Azumaya".
And this beauty is the "Tea House - Ocha Shitsu". It is a traditional tea ceremony building.
The largest and prettiest waterfall was Atticus' favorite. It is called "West Waterfall - Nishi No Taki". Fourteen hundred gallons of water circulate through the waterfall each minute. You can get super close to the falls by taking a small stone footbridge, and you can also get a far away view from a viewing deck.
This beautiful wooden bridge is the "Cypress Bridge".
On this pond, the Garden of Reflection is a "Floating Deck". You can just barely see it on the left side of the trees. I really loved the placement of the park bench between the two trees. Such a nice place to sit and relax.
Oh, we so enjoyed our stroll through the Anderson Japanese Gardens. It was one of those rare, perfect days that I didn't want to end. Everyone was in a good mood (ya'll know how a grandkid in a bad mood can ruin your travel plans) so we all had a great time. The beauty of this garden just astounded me. If you're ever in the area, I highly suggest stopping by!
The Anderson Japanese Gardens are open Monday through Friday 9:00 - 6:00 and Saturday and Sunday 9:00 - 5:00. The cost of admission is $11.00 for an adult, $9.00 for a child, and children under 5 are FREE!
Have a Great Day! Amy
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