GRAND RAPIDS TOWNSHIP, Michigan (WOOD) — The Richard and Helen DeVos Japanese Garden at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park opened to members Thursday and to the public on Saturday.
“It’s [an] extraordinarily detail-oriented environment. Nothing, literally nothing has been left to chance,” Meijer Gardens Chief Curator Joseph Becherer said. “The placement of a tree, the placement of a boulder, the shape the lake finally took where sculpture has been placed, it’s all very intentional.”
The sprawling, eight-acre garden went into motion in 2011 when Meijer Gardens CEO David Hooker said Fred Meijer mentioned he wanted to create a Japanese Garden. It was one of his last requests for the botanical garden and sculpture park.
Hooker said Meijer wanted to give it as a gift to his wife, Lena.
“It’s Lena’s love of plants and flowers and all things horticulture and Fred’s love of sculpture and their love of each other that says, ‘Let’s put these two things together and create an institution,’ and here we are,” Hooker said.
The Tea House Garden, which sits inside the Japanese Garden, is another gift to Lena who loves tea.
The tea house, bridges and all wooden structures were sourced from wood in Japan, built in Japan and then dismantled and put together by 30 Japanese craftsmen at Frederik Meijer Gardens last summer.
But the authenticity doesn’t stop there; all of the ceramics inside of the tea house were designed in Shiga, which is Michigan’s sister state in Japan.
The Japanese Garden also has a special Meijer Gardens twist, filled with seven contemporary sculptures made by international artists.
A large granite piece called “Untitled” sits near the entrance of the garden. It was created by the same artist who made what’s known as “The Bean” in Chicago’s Millennium Park.
Becherer said the new garden will add a couple of hours to a typical visit at Meijer Gardens.
There are no straight roads or quick trips through the garden, only winding paths to allow visitors to enjoy the space.
“It’s intent is to slow you down to give you the opportunity to be contemplative to enjoy the peace, the tranquility of the environment,” Becherer said. “To really take in the beauty that has been planned.”
Entrance to the Japanese Garden is included in the admission price to Frederik Meijer Gardens, which ranges from $12 for adults to $4 for young children. Kids age 2 and under receive free admission.
Visitors can also pay an additional fee to take part in special events at the tea house.