Monday, September 28, 2009

Visit from a Japanese landscape architect

Katsuhito Nakasone, right, teaches a workshop at Duke Gardens.
Photo by Paul Jones

By Nancy Hamilton
Sarah P. Duke Gardens was pleased to host Mr. Katsuhito Nakasone, a landscape architect from Toyama, Japan, for a nine-day working visit this month. Sister Cities of Durham arranged the visit in conjunction with Duke Gardens to support the continued development of the garden area surrounding the Japanese Pavilion in the Culberson Asiatic Arboretum.

During the working visit, Mr. Nakasone spent a great deal of time with arboretum curator Paul Jones discussing the design of the Tea Garden surrounding the Japanese Pavilion, which also functions as a teahouse, as well as the greater Japanese garden extending beyond the teahouse area.

The Tea Garden, or roji, which means “revealed ground” in Japanese, performs an important role in visitors’ experiences as they approach the teahouse as guests to the Gardens’ traditional Tea Gatherings for the public (this fall’s gatherings will be Oct. 21 and Nov. 11).

Mr. Nakasone, himself an avid student of Tea, advised Mr. Jones regarding the placement of several features along the roji path designed to refresh and prepare guests as they journey toward the teahouse. He also created a traditional rock and moss garden at the main entrance to the teahouse and proposed creating a stone and pebble garden nearby that would mimic in miniature the mountainous landscape of Toyama.

Duke Gardens invited members of the Durham community to participate in two special events during the course of Mr. Nakasone’s stay. Mr. Nakasone hosted two intimate Tea Gatherings in the garden teahouse celebrating 20 years of friendship between Durham and Toyama. He treated his guests to a special blend of tea and traditional confections crafted in Toyama.

Mr. Nakasone also led a special Japanese Gardening workshop geared toward local landscape professionals. He demonstrated a number of techniques, including bamboo fence construction, ornamental knots, construction of limb supports, Japanese pruning and design of traditional snow protection devices for trees. The full day event included both discussion and hands-on activities and was greeted by an enthusiastic crowd of more than 25 landscapers and garden professionals.

Gardens volunteer Nancy Hamilton organizes the Tea Gatherings at the Gardens, and she served as Mr. Nakasone's translator during his visit.

Mr. Nakasone hosts a traditional Japanese Tea Gathering.
photo by Jon Gardiner/Duke Photography

Mr. Nakasone with his workshop class.
Photo by Chizuko Sueyoshi

Mr. Nakasone with Durham Rotary Club President Sam Miglarese
Photo by Nancy Hamilton

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