During the late 1960s, the Japanese Garden was the most significant and time consuming accomplishment at Lotusland. Long before the idea was conceived, Ganna had a skilled Japanese gardener on her staff-Frank Fuji. Having previously worked with his father, Kintsuchi Fujii, who helped create the Japanese Garden in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, Frank took on the project, and continued to maintain and enhance the garden until retirement in 2007. Just past the Cryptomeria Gathering, you will see an engraved stone in Frank Fuji’s honor. In 2019, the Japanese Garden reopened after a two year renovation intended to improve water clarity and conditions of the pond ecosystem, as well as make the space wheelchair accessible.
Borrowed Scenery (Shakkei):
Lotusland’s Japanese Garden follows a style of strolling gardens first constructed in Japan in the 1600’s, featuring a central pond with a path. By following the path, the stroller encounters scenes which are specifically intended to be viewed at key points around the path. As you stroll, see if you can find uses of examples of these two primary techniques in action: Borrowed Scenery (Shakkei) uses elements outside of the garden to create an illusion that the garden is much larger. Hide-and-Reveal (miegakure) uses angles and direction to hide scenes for dramatic reveals.
Located at the lowest point in the garden, the pond is inhabited by koi, lotuses, water lilies, and Japanese irises in a sustainable ecosystem requiring few human inputs. Koi fish are fed by naturally occurring bugs, plant materials, and algae. A little remaining algae is good to have, as it provides nutrients, and adds oxygen through photosynthesis. Mosquito fish, who are the tiny fish you might see causing ripples along the edges of the pond, keep mosquito populations under control by eating their larvae.
You may hear the sound of the waterfall long before you see it because of the use of Hide-and Reveal (miegakure). Aligning the waterfall, you will find a grove of Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) highly sculpted in a style known as Niwaki, where plants are pruned to look so subtly artificial they look more natural than nature.
Miwatasu (Scenic Overlook):
As the highest point in the garden, stop and enjoy the beauty around you. The three boulder “benches” are sandstone collected from the 2018 Montecito mudslide.