Buffalo’s Japanese Garden cherry trees in bloom

Took a walk with my daughter over to the Delaware Park Japanese Garden here in Buffalo on Tuesday. Caught the evening light on the forest of cherry trees at the height of their bloom. It was stunning. The Japanese Garden sits on Mirror Lake in Delaware Park behind the Buffalo History Museum (the only building built permanent from the 1901 Pan American Exhibition where President McKinley was assassinated). Delaware Park itself was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer of Central Park in NYC, Boston’s Emerald Necklace and Washington DC’s U.S. Capitol Grounds, among others.

The Japanese Garden has cherry trees that come from the trees in Washington, DC, which were a gift in 1912 from the people of Japan. The Buffalo trees are still young —  the oldest tree is only about 10 years old. In 2012, 20 more were planted to match the 20 that were already there.

The Garden is a popular spot for wedding pictures. We had our wedding party pictures taken here. The Japanese Garden is also a stop on Garden Walk Buffalo — complete with docents — each year.

The Japanese garden itself was a gesture of friendship from Buffalo’s sister city, Kanazawa Japan. The garden was modeled on Kenrokuen Garden in Kanazawa, one of the most famous gardens in Japan. The garden was conceived in 1970, construction started in 1971 and it was completed in 1974. the original design contained over 1,000 plantings, nearly 20 globe-type lights, three small islands connected to the mainland by bridges.

In 1983, the City and the adjacent Buffalo History Museum began efforts to renovate the Garden.  The upper banks were cleared of overgrown vegetation, the bridge was repaired, the islands were replanted and a seating area developed on the main island and extensive new plantings of trees and shrubs were completed along the shore and paths.  During the mid-’80s, the main path along Mirror Lake was also reconstructed as part of a larger pathway development throughout the park.

In 1994, Friends of the Japanese Garden was established (visit their Facebook page here) and submitted a grant proposal to the city of Kanazawa Japan to fund the redesign and construction of the garden landscape. Design and construction was undertaken over the following couple of years by American landscape architects working hand-in-hand with Japanese garden designers, and American contractors working together with a highly skilled Japanese garden crew. The islands were restored with specimen Japanese pines and maples pruned by Japanese garden experts, a natural stone stairway was installed using stones brought over from Japan, and several stone lanterns, in addition to a Japanese shinto gate, were imported from Japan for the Garden.

In July 2004 the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy (BPOC) took over the maintenance and management of Olmsted’s Buffalo parks.  Partnering with the Friends of the Japanese Garden the BOPC has made great strides to raise the level of maintenance in the garden, support cultural events, and make capital improvements to the focal landscape along Mirror Lake.

Friends of the Japanese Garden of Buffalo will host its first ever cherry blossom, or sakura, event on Saturday, May 11, 3 p.m. at the Japanese Garden. The event is free. Visitors are invited to bring a picnic lunch and check out the cheery trees, which should be just past peak. There will also be new cherry trees planted during the celebration.

The Garden is on a major city bike and walking path, so there is much traffic on a sunny day.
Abe Lincoln, sitting on the portico of the Buffalo History Museum has the best seat in the house.

0 comments on “Buffalo’s Japanese Garden cherry trees in bloom

  1. Hello Jim, cherries are real treat at this season. This project seems to be valuable to the local community. Great photos!


  2. Thanks Ewa!I think the Buffalo cherry trees. over time, will be a huge gardening asset for the community. The issue, often, is getting teh word out about them. That is my calling!


  3. Great photos! Thanks for sharing!


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