The Ordway Gardens & Charlotte Partridge Ordway Japanese Garden

 

December 2012: Como Park Zoo and Conservatory announces April 19, 2013 as the official opening for The Ordway Gardens, a new wing to the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory.  This $2.8 million building and landscape addition will feature the Conservatory’s Bonsai collection and Charlotte Partridge Ordway Japanese Garden as a year-round experience.

The Ordway Gardens will include 2,267 square feet of glass-enclosed interpretative exhibit and display space, and a 2,850 square foot outdoor terrace.  The new wing will enable the Conservatory’s nationally-acclaimed Bonsai collection to be exhibited year-round. Both the pavilion and terrace will provide year-round views into the Japanese Garden.

The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory cultivates one of North America’s top 10 public collections of Bonsai, but has never had adequate space to properly display these valued plants. The new wing includes interior display space that will highlight dozens of Bonsai year-round along with an outdoor terrace that will more than double the opportunities to see these elegant trees during the summer season. The new space will also provide additional programming space and rental opportunities.

Como’s Japanese Garden has roots that go back more than 80 years. But when the garden reopens April 19, 2013 with the unveiling of The Ordway Gardens wing it will reveal vistas no visitor has ever seen before. “This project is going to have very big impact with our visitors,” says Como Park Zoo and Conservatory director Michelle Furrer. “The Japanese garden has been one of our best kept secrets, and many of our day-to-day guests may never have seen it, or else they have no idea the extent of our Bonsai collection. This new wing will immerse visitors in both collections in a way that’s very exciting.”

The Ordway Gardens is a $2.8 million improvement funded entirely by private contributions to Como Friends, the nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting, preserving and enhancing Como Park Zoo and Conservatory “This is a project that simply wouldn’t have been possible without contributions from a community that really wanted to make this happen,” says Como Friends president Jackie Sticha. Financed as part of The Campaign for Como, the $18.8 million capital improvement effort that also paid for Polar Bear Odyssey, the tough economic climate forced Como to postpone construction of the wing for one year before the project’s full funding could be secured. “Though it was a challenge, the extra time made this an even better project, with some very thoughtful design elements and landscaping improvements that visitors are really going to appreciate,” says Como Park Zoo and Conservatory director Michelle Furrer.

For those wanting an early look at The Ordway Gardens, Como Friends is offering a special sneak peek before the public opening to all those who contribute $25 or more to Como Friends through the GiveMN website.

November 2012: With the glass now in and the pavilion glass roof in place, Como Park Zoo and Conservatory is closer to unveiling The Ordway Gardens, a new expansion of the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory in spring 2013. This $2.8 million building and landscape addition will feature the Conservatory’s Bonsai collection and Charlotte Partridge Ordway Japanese Garden as a year-round experience.

The Ordway Gardens will include 2,267 square feet of glass-enclosed interpretative exhibit and display space that will house Bonsai year round, A 2,850 square foot outdoor terrace will offer seasonal Bonsai display and program space. The new wing will enable the Conservatory’s nationally-acclaimed Bonsai collection to be exhibited year-round. Both the pavilion and terrace will provide year-round views into the Japanese Garden.  A new, gently-sloping pine grove walk will guide visitors along into the Japanese Garden.

The Ordway Gardens is the newest facet of the jewel of Como Park–The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory. Next phases in the construction include the addition of pavers and exterior glazing. A landscape planting blitz will begin the week of Thanksgiving before the winter ground freeze.

 

The Ordway Gardens Construction Update

 

Breaking ground in late 2011, The Ordway Gardens is a $2.5 million addition to the historic Marjorie McNeely Conservatory that will create year-round viewing of its nationally-acclaimed Bonsai collection and Charlotte Partridge Ordway Japanese garden. This new wing will feature a Bonsai Gallery, outdoor Bonsai Garden and Terrace, and realigned Pine Grove walk leading to the Charlotte Partridge Ordway Japanese Garden (click here to review the plans).

The Japanese Garden has roots dating back to the early 1900s when it was located on the current Como Golf Course. The Japanese Garden is landscaped in the traditional Japanese Sansui mountain and water style; the pond and waterfall serve as the focal points with glacial boulders serving as the bones of the garden. The design of the garden was a gift from the people of Nagasaki, Japan and the installation of the garden was personally supervised by Mr. Masami Matsuda, a ninth-generation master gardener from Japan. The Japanese Garden opened to the public in 1979 and was completely renovated in 1990 – 1991 under Mr. Matsuda’s careful eye. Private support to build the garden came from the family of Mrs. John G. Ordway. This majestic garden is currently open from May to September.

The time has come to make a strategic decision to consolidate the Japanese plant collections and gardens into one improved year-round experience.

The new Japanese plant and garden gallery will immerse visitors in the beauty and history of the Conservatory’s Japanese collections. This new indoor/outdoor wing of the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory will provide one of the only experience in Minnesota of a top-curated Japanese plant collection. Improvements will result in an integrated indoor Bonsai gallery, outdoor Bonsai garden and year-round Japanese Garden. New gallery space will provide the opportunity to display Bonsai trees year-round. An adjoining Bonsai garden will for the first time ever provide space outside to display Bonsai trees. The new gallery and garden will connect to the Japanese Garden via a realigned path that continues the immersion into the Japanese plants and gardens.

The new wing will be extend out from the current parlor and located next to the Conservatory’s North Wing. Specific elements include:

 

  • An enclosed Pavilion walkway will connect to the Conservatory and extend out to the Bonsai Gallery along the length of the Bonsai Garden. It will fully open to the Bonsai Garden via a series of sliding glass doors or provide a closed walkway during inclement weather.

 

  • A Bonsai Gallery will be located at the end of the Pavilion near the Japanese Garden. This glittering glass box will display Bonsai trees year-round in a climate controlled space. It will provide lovely views into the Japanese Garden and serve as a destination during the winter months.

 

  • An outside Bonsai Garden will extend the length of the Pavilion and provide an outdoor gallery for displaying Bonsai trees. Many of the trees in the Conservatory’s collection must be held outside during the summer months for their optimal health. The Bonsai Garden will provide visitors a serene space that invites them to meander through the collection as well as a stunning gallery to display the Conservatory’s horticultural works of art.

 

  • A realigned path into the Charlotte Partridge Ordway Japanese Garden will curve through a grove of trees providing visitors a new view around every bend. It will lead to a granite threshold that will provide a glimpse of the beauty inside before visitors cross the threshold.

 

  • Opportunities to experience the Japanese Garden year-round. Traditional Japanese gardens are intended to provide a new opportunity to celebrate nature in quiet and subtle ways during all four seasons. Visitors will be able to view into the “resting” garden from the comfort of the Bonsai Galley or venture out to the garden along the path.

 

  • The installation of a new ornamental fence around the east perimeter of the garden. Currently, a chain link fence serves as the perimeter wall.