I love South Florida nature and all of its beautiful gifts: the lush tropical greenery, the warm salty air and the deep blue ocean that hugs the Magic City in the most awe-inspiring way. I would never have imagined in a million years, however, that if I hopped into my car and drove north for less than an hour, I would be able to feast my eyes on the most spectacular Japanese-inspired gardens I’ve ever seen. Yes, a full-blow Japanese garden(s) in Florida.
The “Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens” in Delray Beach is a sprawling sixteen acres of meticulously manicured greenery; with rushing waterfalls, ponds filled with Koi fish, curious swimming turtles and immaculately kept Bonsai trees, it’s like something out of a movie. It’s official name…
The Roji-en: Garden of the Drops of Dew (which, in essence, is about renewal,) is split up into six different gardens: Shinden, Paradise, Early Rock, Karesansui Late, Hiraniwa Flat and Modern Romantic (all of which are modeled – but not copied – after famous gardens in Japan.) On Mondays, (that’s the only day of the week Morikami is closed) seven gardeners pour their blood, sweat and tears into perfecting its already pristine grounds.
Marketing and Special Events Coordinator, Monika Armar, who calls the group “small yet mighty,” also says the gardeners work tirelessly mowing, weeding and mulching on just that one day to allow visitors an uninterrupted experience the rest of the week. And boy, is it ever and then some. Which begs the question: how did these surreal, serene and sumptuous gardens grow here in the first place?
Back in the early 1900’s, a group of young Japanese farmers were invited to form a colony to revolutionize agriculture in Florida. They did so with gusto, calling it Yamato (an ancient name for Japan,) in the northern Boca Raton area. Unfortunately, sustaining the land didn’t take root (so to speak) and eventually each returned home, except for George Sukeji Morikami.
In a twist of fate, George stayed in the Sunshine State and eventually prospered, buying land in Delray Beach and farming it for almost thirty years. He passed away in the mid ‘70’s at the age of eighty-nine, but not before donating his land to Palm Beach County, in hopes that his “Japanese Dreams” would be granted: a park built to preserve the memory of the Yamato Colony.
Read the rest of the blog at www.WSVN.com or to get more information on Morikami see the information listed below.
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