John Powell Visits the Charlotte Partridge Ordway Japanese Garden

Last week marked another visit from our Japanese Garden consultant, John Powell. John hails from Weatherford, TX where he runs a successful Japanese Gardening business. While he has many local clients, he also frequently travels the country to tend to other gardens, including the one here at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory and the garden at Carlton College. The focus of this visit was the continued work on the renovations that began in early 2012. The larger projects in the main garden have been completed, and John was pleased with the progress on the finer details. Together with several of the Horticulture staff John carefully walked through the garden, outlining exactly what looked good and what needed to be pruned, removed or transplanted. One focus is on texture. Certain plant material exudes a coarse texture where a finer texture is preferred. This is especially important near the entrance to the garden as your eyes transition from the “western” landscape design of the Pine Grove Walk into the flowing natural landscape of the Japanese Garden.John’s vision, and his initial recommendations for the garden renovations, very closely mirror that of the original designer, Masami Matsuda. With John’s experience in the garden at the Adachi Museum of Art in Japan he has the classical, expert training to interpret Mr. Matsuda’s long term vision for the garden. The garden is closer to the original design now than it has been since it was first built under Mr. Matsuda’s supervision in 1978-1979. As the day progressed, John consulted on a variety of areas of the garden, including the Tea House and the Tea Garden. The next phase of renovations will be in these areas and work will focus on updating, improving and fixing certain things that have aged over the years. That afternoon John agreed to fill our Gardener Talk slot with a little more information about what he has done here at Como and where he sees things going. Staff, volunteers and visitors alike were treated to a rare talk from the perspective of the brain behind the changes in the garden.That same afternoon we were lucky enough to give a few more distinguished guests a tour of the garden. Both guests have played instrumental roles in the success of the Carleton College Garden – currently ranked eighth in North America. Dr. David Slawson is the author of several Japanese Gardening books and a DVD, as well as designer of the garden. Bardwell Smith is the John W. Nason Professor of Religion and Asian Studies, Emeritus at Carleton College and former Dean at the time of their garden installation. These two gentlemen are deeply involved in the Japanese Gardening world and had very positive things to say about the progress and current state of our garden. To have such well respected figures praise our garden is truly a wonderful thing, and a testament to all of our hard work.From left: Reva Kos, Bardwell Smith, John Powell, David Slawson, Adam Strehlow, and Charlotte Smith  By: Adam Strehlow Horticulturalist, Charlotte Partridge Ordway Japanese Garden