It has been two years since my last visit to this superb garden restoration project and, if you didn’t see the blog article I wrote then, I urge you to have a look at it before you read this post.
On the evening of Saturday 5 September 2016, the Cowden Castle Japanese Garden opened it’s gates for a Garden Party Restoration Fundraiser. It was a wet, still evening and the reflections on the lake were enhanced, rather than flawed, by the pattering of raindrops. Over 200 visitors donned stout shoes and wandered, under hats and umbrellas, along the newly re-routed paths that circumnavigate the large lake that forms the centre-piece of the garden. Professor Matsao Fukuhara, Osaka University of Arts, was in attendance, along with members of his design team, to meet the visitors answer questions about the restoration project.
The progress in the gardens is remarkable, given that work is being undertaken during short visits from the Japanese team, as funding allows. The photographs speak for themselves, and, if you would like to come and see this garden for yourself, watch out for the special openings that are planned in 2017, before the garden opens fully in 2018 (so I believe).
Reflections are one of the key features of this sheltered garden, where the water surface is often glassily still
The name of the garden: ‘garden of reflections, pleasure and delight’ is situated in a formal entrance portal
The first thing you see on entering the garden is the zig-zag bridge leading to the ‘outlying isle’ where there was once a small tea-house
A new feature has been added – a series of three islands in a dry gravel ‘lake’, each representing key members of the Stewart family who own the Cowden Castle garden and who are bringing it back to life
The island dry garden sits along side the main lake blends seamlessly into the woodland that surrounds the main garden.
Beyond the gravel gardens, a stream is channelled into the lake and the first of several bridges across inlets must be crossed to continue the journey around the lake
Many of the original trees planted when the garden was established in the early 1900’s are now enormous but sympathetic pruning has allow views to be framed across the lake – here the view is across one of the small islands towards the ziz-zag bridge on the opposite side
Many of the original Japanese lanterns have been salvaged from the lake, and now sit in their original locations, creating a great sense of ‘place’.