Japanese gardens are designed to celebrate the beauty and wonder of nature and nurture your spirit as well as your senses.
Rocks, water, and other elements are thoughtfully arranged to capture the essence of the greater natural world. Plants are selected not to provide a multitude of color with flowers but to embrace seasonal changes with bursts of color in the spring and fall and soothing shades of green in the summer. The greater focus is on form and texture that can be appreciated throughout the year.
Our garden’s name, Seijaku-En (pronounced SAY-jock-ou-en), literally translates as the ‘Garden of Tranquility.’ It was designed in 1966 by Dr. P.T. Tono of Tokyo, Japan, and later renovated by Ritchie Smith of Memphis with Professor Koichi Kawana of Santa Monica, CA, who designed many of the Japanese gardens across the country. Similar to others, our garden design relies on conceal and reveal as devices to provide different views of the surroundings that open up and change as one moves along the paths. Distinctive elements include the Half Moon and Zigzag bridges crossing a koi-filled lake and a Moongazing Pavilion overlooking the garden.
The Asian Garden began as the Japanese Maple Grove when the late nurseryman, Plato Touliatos, donated the original trees in honor of his parents. After his passing, the Touliatos family donated many plants from their nursery to create a larger display garden celebrating the rich and diverse palette of Asian plants.
As you enter both of these gardens, notice the changes in pathways that break your stride causing you to become more attuned to the subtleties that await. We hope they provide a peaceful retreat for strolling and meditation.
A special thanks to Ikebana International, Bamboo Chapter for developing and continuing to support the Japanese Garden.
This garden features plants from East Asian countries, mainly those areas of China, Korea, Japan, and Taiwan that share the same climatic zone and have growing conditions similar to the Mid-South. The intention is to simulate the feeling of being in an East Asian forest landscape and to celebrate the diversity of that woodland flora. It features several maple species and 25 cultivars, heavily represented with selections of Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum). You’ll find a vast selection of understory shrubs, perennials, bulbs, and ferns, many of which are not frequently used in American gardens.
The design features a hand carved stone bridge that was imported from China. The path style is called tobi-ishi, a Japanese term meaning ‘skipping stones’ and is a design element used to slow one’s pace through the garden, causing you to watch your step and take time to enjoy the details and diversity in the plantings both at your feet and at eye level. The garden is meant to be enjoyed throughout the seasons: Flowering Cherries, Quince, and bulbs in the spring, a diversity of foliage colors and textures in summer, brilliant fall colors as the growing season ends, and finally the stark beauty of bare limbs in winter punctuated by the sculptural beauty of Paper Bush (Edgeworthia), Camellia, and Lenten Rose.