Jim Murphy & Sons

Final two evenings of romance at Japanese Stroll Garden

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A lanter in the Japanese Stroll Garden

Statuary in the Japanese Stroll Garden.

For those among us who are romantically inclined, and of a certain age, the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden Committee has created two final special evenings to enjoy the gardens in a new way for many of us – at night during a nearly full moon.

The first weekend even in mid-October was a perfect opportunity for more than 100 visitors to enjoy the gardens in a way most of us never do. On Nov. 7 and 8 (there is a full fall moon on Nov. 6), the public is invited to experience the serenity of the gardens illuminated as only tiki torches and paper lanterns can. Hours are 7:30-10 p.m. each evening for guests only since the gardens are officially closed for the season. Admission is $5 per person, and guests must be at least 17 years of age. This will be the final time the stroll garden is open until next April.

As part of the fund-raiser to support the stroll gardens, floating wishing lanterns (actually LEDs) will be available for $5 each to be launched on one of the three ponds. Light music and a romantic stroll will add to the evening. Seven new Koi have recently been donated to the gardens by Christie Thorpe, including two “Dragon Carp.”

“We are in the final push to ready the Japanese Stroll Garden for its’ 30th anniversary celebration in 2015,” says Nancy Schmidt, co-chair of the event.

“The past winter caused both the volunteers and the parks personnel significant delays on several projects plus the garden took a real beating,” adds Co-chair Don Schmidt. “We lost a lot of trees and some shrubs. In the Meditation Garden alone, eight maple trees need to be replaced. We also lost most of the azaleas.”

Also on display will be eight new granite lanterns, along with a new granite basin for the Tea House.

A beautiful new wooden fence was installed along the west side of the garden. The second project was a major landscaping improvement at the Stone Bridge. Parks craftsmen Mike Mills and Jason Shaw built the stone bridge during the frigid winter days of early 2014, and then landscaped the area in spring.

With the help of Parks staff, the Stroll Garden Committee upgraded the display windows at the pavilion outside the garden and also improved the display lighting with new LEDs.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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