Friday, August 19, 2016

Over the Hill

Another Philadelphia area Japanese garden I had the fortune to visit was the Japanese Hill Garden of the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania.

The arboretum was once the summer estate of John and Lydia Morris, who started landscaping much of the estate during the 1880s. Morris collected plants from his many trips around the world, especially China. Much of the arboretum today reflects his original plantings. In 1933, the estate became a public arboretum.

Within the arboretum there were two specific gardens that I was interested in seeing. First, was the Japanese Hill & Water Garden (1905), a Tsukiyama-niwa style garden with hills, rocks, water, trees, bridges, paths, shrines and lanterns. At 110 + years old, the Japanese maples here were some of the oldest and mature maples I have ever seen.

The original plan was more open and widespread across the hill and visible from the edge of the Swan Pond.

Compared to what the garden had once looked like when it was first conceived and planted, it was evident that much had changed.

The second garden was the Japanese Overlook (1912), a hybrid of English rock garden and Japanese garden, landscaped with fudo stones, lanterns, Japanese maples, conifers, and smaller acid-loving plants. 

Visitors climb a mountain-like trail amid a setting of stones, lanterns, trees, and water elements. Although heavily Victorian in its design, these other features were Japanese inspired. The overlook originally took in the view of much of the estate gardens.

Today, the mature trees obscure much of the view, but the many smaller elements remain.

click here to see panoramic image

click here to see panoramic image
Additionally, just before and after the garden, along the walkway, ones encounters similar elements in the form of a extremely mature maple, unlike one I have ever seen, and a a very large stone feature.

Both gardens were typical of the "oriental exotica" style of Japanese gardens that emerged in the United States during the turn of the 19th century.  The arboretum was well worth the visit, especially if you are interested in seeing mature 100+ year old examples of plantings, something worth considering if you are designing a garden you would like to endure.

1 comment:

  1. There's no Like button, but I certainly like this! I have volunteered at a Japanese garden at the Buddhist temple in Seabrook & it has piqued my interest in Japanese gardening. Your blog is great!