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JOJG Announces Results of its Best Gardens Survey

Last Updated: 5/21/2000

The Top 10
  1. Portland, Oregon
  2. Anderson Gardens, Rockford, Illinois
  3. JACCC, Los Angeles
  4. Nitobe Gardens, Vancouver
  5. Shofuso House and Garden, Philadelphia
  6. Morikami Museum, Delray Beach, Florida
  7. Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota
  8. Washington Park Arboretum, Seattle, Washington
  9. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
  10. Missouri Botanical Gardens, St. Louis, Missouri
It's safe to say that nearly every JGarden visitor would love to travel to Japan and see the gardens there. Making such a trip has become easier over the years, but it's still a journey that many will never be able to make. Fortunately, there are a number of fine Japanese gardens located outside of Japan. In fact, there are more than 300 of them.

Among these 300 public gardens, several dozen are of significant quality. JOJG decided to try to identify the best ones by conducting a garden survey. The primary goal is to help JOJG readers decide which gardens particularly warrant a visit as well as to recognize outstanding gardens for their exceptional efforts.

JOJG distributed a survey to 39 Japanese garden specialists in Europe, North America and Australia. The survey posed one question: 'What are the highest-quality Japanese gardens located outside Japan?' We encouraged participants to apply their own definition of the word 'quality,' and we encouraged them to avoid selecting gardens merely because they are large or well-known.

To a certain extent, the results regionally biased. Canadians tended to select gardens in Canada, and so forth. The regional bias is natural and JOJG used a statistical model to correct for it.

Several well-known public gardens didn't make the 'Top 10' list. This does not mean these gardens aren't worth visiting. On the other hand, the survey was intentionally designed to highlight quality rather than notoriety. With this in mind, survey participants seemed to favor gardens displaying intimate traits such as subtleness, natural beauty, moderation, and human scale.

Any such survey is bound to be limited and controversial, but hopefully this one will be useful to JOJG readers exploring their own country or region.

Other Gardens recommended in the JOJG Survey:
Asticou Gardens - Mount Desert Island, Maine
Bloedel Reserve - Bainbridge Island, Washington
Cowra Japanese Garden - Cowra, New South Wales, Australia
Gulf States Paper Corporation - Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Hakone Gardens - Saratoga Springs, California
Humes Stroll Garden - Mill Neck, New York
Kew Royal Botanical Gardens - Kew, Surrey, United Kingdom
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum - Chanhassen, Minnesota
Montreal Botanical Garden - Montreal, Quebec
Nippon Center Yagoto - Greenville, South Carolina
San Mateo Japanese Garden - San Mateo, California
Tillman Water Reclamation Plant - Van Nuys, California
University of Southern Queensland - Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia

NOTE: The Journal of Japanese Gardening has given JGarden.org special permission to reprint this article from the May/June 2000 issue of JOJ

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