Gardening

San Francisco’s Japanese Tea Garden

Entrance to the Japanese Tea Garden.
Entrance to the Japanese Tea Garden.

Last post I “took you around” the California Science Academy in Golden Gate Park. This time, let’s look at the San Francisco’s Japanese Tea Garden. It’s only about 5 minutes by foot from the CA Science Academy, so you could easily visit the two on the same day.

This is the oldest public Japanese garden in the New World, dating to the California Midwinter International Exposition of 1894. It was completely revised after the exposition by the Japanese landscape architect Makoto Hagiwara who remained with the garden for almost 50 years, more than quadrupling its size. Sadly, Mr. Hagimwara was forced into an internment camp during the Second World War and was never allowed back into the garden he created.

Trees beautifully clipped in the cloud style.Although I visited in late January, the garden was lush and green and camellias and even a few almond trees were in bloom, a hint of the cherry trees that will follow in the spring.  As you stroll through this quiet garden, you’ll discover such typical Japanese elements as a drum bridge, pagodas, stone lanterns, stepping stone paths, koi ponds and a zen garden. Some of the ponds were drained and were obviously been worked on (bummer), but most of the garden was fully ready for visitors. I sat and watched a gardener on a ladder pruning some trees into the cloud style, sort of a giant bonsai. Most relaxing!

A quiet pond.
A quiet pond.

There is a gift shop and a tea house where tea ceremonies are held, but I was told you had to reserve months ahead to participate. It was from this tea house that the fortune cookie (which are Japanese not Chinese in origin) were first introduced into North America.

Cloud-style pruning.
Cloud-style pruning.

The garden is open from 9 am to 4:45 pm in the winter; to 6 pm in the summer. It cost me $7 admission as I was a non-resident; Californians pay $5. However, if I’d gotten there early enough, I could have gotten in free! There is free admission if you enter before 10:00 am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Well worth a visit: do drop by if you’re in San Francisco.

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

0 comments on “San Francisco’s Japanese Tea Garden

Leave a Reply

Sign up for the Laidback Gardener blog and receive articles in your inbox every morning!

%d bloggers like this: