Waterfront Botanical Gardens lands $1.5M for Japanese garden. A closer look at the project

·3 min read

A reimagining of two acres at Louisville's Waterfront Botanical Gardens is coming, with new construction underway soon.

The project, the latest development at the popular attraction in Butchertown, has landed $1.5 million in funds from the most recent state budget for 2022, according to a release from the Gardens. The work to prepare the land for an authentic Japanese garden on a former garbage dump, an effort spearheaded by Japanese landscape designer Shiro Nakane, will begin later this year.

Nakane is working closely with the Waterfront Botanical Gardens team and Perkins & Will, the Gardens' architecture firm, to build out the new space.

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“This is a perfect example where the state invests funds to ensure the groundwork is laid, literally, for the future growth of a tremendous cultural asset,” Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers said in a release. “These gardens are a unique treasure in Kentucky and this authentic addition is sure to draw more visitors to fuel our economy.”

What parts of the Botanical Garden will the state money be used on?

The $1.5 million will specifically be used to make a construction access road for heavy equipment vehicles off the main driveway and into the gardens. Installation of a new pipe system is underway to improve drainage on the site, a former landfill.

“It’s wonderful to see more and more people from Louisville, across the state and from all over the world visiting the Waterfront Botanical Gardens,” Senate Majority Caucus Chair Julie Raque Adams said. “The educational programs and cross-cultural experiences the gardens offer are tremendous for both children and adults. It’s a point of great pride for Louisville to have repurposed this city space and create such beauty for so many to enjoy.”

The new garden is set to include a traditional Japanese Tea House, which will introduce park visitors to the Japanese tea ceremony, one of the most symbolic and prestigious rituals in the country's culture.

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Outside funding for the authentic Japanese Garden

Plans from Nakane include ornate gates used to enter the Japanese garden, a mountain stream, stepping stones, a pebble beach, a waterfall that leads into the new lake, a summer house, a heart-shaped pond, islands, a bamboo grove, relevant trees and shrubs that match the setting of the garden and a Cornelian cherry tree promenade native to Southeast Asia.

The authentic garden will also include the Graeser Family Bonsai Garden, a project already underway thanks to a $1 million gift from the Graeser family along with a $250,000 gift from bonsai enthusiasts Joe and Debbie Graviss. Other donors are involved as well.

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Construction will begin later this year, according to the release, and should take about 15-18 months for Japanese craftsmen to complete.

“This is not only a project that is driving tourism, but also one that is culturally important to the entire Commonwealth,” said Metro Council President David James. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to have this beautiful community asset right here in Louisville.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article cited incorrect information included in a news release about the number of Japaneses gardens that had been built outside of Japan. The article has been updated.

Contact Caleb Stultz at cstultz@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Caleb_Stultz.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Louisville Waterfont Botanical Gardens lands $1.5M for Japanese garden