JGarden Logo



Buy it from Amazon
Sanctuary: Music from a Zen Garden
Lee, Riley


JOJG articles New Section
web articles
features archive
books, etc.

jgarden news

Keep up with JGarden changes and news!

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter:

gardens tools resources

Click to see photosClick to see events
Denver Botanic Gardens
URL:Goto this web site  http://www.botanicgardens.org 
Name:Denver Botanic Gardens garden photo
Denver Botanic Gardens
Photo: Robert Cheetham

Alternate Name:Shofu-en Japanese Garden; Shofuen 
Address:1005 York Street 
Mailing Address: 
Postal Code:80206-3799 
Latitude/Longitude:lat=39.732991; long=-104.959808
Find Gardens Nearby
Weather:current weather 
Designer(s):Kawana Koichi 
Contruction Date:site established 1952; construction Aug 1978; dedicated Juen 23, 1979. 
Hours:9:00am to 5:00pm, daily 
Added to JGarden:1/1/1999 
Last Updated:2/6/2005 
Sources:File materials from Botanic Garden library.
Sadafumi Uchiyama.  
JGarden Description:The Shofu-en (lit. 'garden of the pine wind') is a two-acre garden designed by Kawana Koichi and dedicated in August 1978. The core features of the garden are the specimen pines, collected and donated to the garden by the Denver Bonsai Club (some of whom later formed the Rocky Mountain Bonsai Society), and the large boulders, collected from the nearby Rocky Mountains. The skeleton of the garden was built around 800 tons of rock chosen from the mountains near Golden and Loveland. They were placed to represent mountains and cliffs by the sea. The 125 ponderosa pines (Pinus ponderosa), also from the region, form the next layer of the design. Large swaths of green turf are interrupted by deciduous trees and shrubs, usch as cutleaf weeping birch (Betula pendula; maples (Acer rubrum and A. Ginnala); redleaf Japanese barberry (Berberis thumbergi); flowering cherry (Pyrus calleryana); bugle weed (Ajuga reptans); multi-colored Iris ensata (growing along the stream); and several varieties of thyme (Anarcharis provide seasonal color and interest.

The garden is patterned on the chisen-kaiyushiki template (lit. pond and stroll garden). A walking path meanders through the garden around a central pond with several points of interest interrupting the walk. Three small islands in the pond represent the usual crane (the largest), tortoise and treasure ship, symbols found in many gardens of this type.

There are five stone lanterns, each of them emphasizing a specific view. The largest and most significant is a yukimi-doro or 'snow-viewing lantern' located near the pond and donated by Denver's sister city, Takayama-shi as a symbol of goodwill and friendship. A second Katsuga style lantern was donated by Takayama in 1964 and was 200 years old at the time. The other lanterns are on the eastern pathway, at the tea house and near the wisteria arbor (an oribe-doro).

A wisteria arbor (two vines, white and lavender, donated by Takayama in fall 1981) is located in the nortwest corner of the garden. It was placed here as a stopping point along the path. A square-shaped kesagata water basin is also located nearby. It is a replica of the water basin at Ginkakuji, in Kyoto. A tea house is located in the opposite, northeast corner. It was built by the Kumo Construction Company from Nagano-ken, Japan. The building was built in Japan, disassembled, numbered, shipped and reassembled in Denver. Hirabayashi Toshitame, President of the company, and eight Japanese co-workers built the structure in about two weeks. The cost of the teahouse was covered by a grant from the Weckbaugh Trusts. The slope of the roof mirrors the sweep of the pine branches and the parallel lines were apparently indended to emphasize the other straight lines of fences, walls and hedges. A second water basin is arranged as a tsukubai near the tea house to provide the ritual hand rinsing prior to the tea ceremony. A final features is a taikobashi or drum bridge near a section of the pond.

The garden is screened from the other parts of the botanic garden by scrims of bamboo fencing on the north, west and east sides. The garden has two entrances and the scenes unfold quite differently depending on which direction one takes.

The full botanic garden is quite extensive, covering a 22 acre site. It includes a conservatory, greenhouse, visitor's center, gift shop, restaurant, reception area and meetings room. The garden does host weddings and conferences. Other gardens include: rose, herb, rock, xeriscape, high plains, alpine, and lilacs.

In 2002, Sadafumi Uchiyama was recommended as project designer for a renovation of the 35-year old garden. A master plan for the renovation wa 

Ryoanji Temple, Kyoto
Only in the cloister
Could such a garden thrive, a soil where nature
    Flowers in spiritual dryness,
Drawing an interior nurture
    From sand and rock.

Where the labyrinth of illusion
    No longer entangles the senses
Enmeshing vision in delusive lusters;
Where the lust of the eyes is silenced
And desire of forms, and names of forms,
    Move to no visible end.

Those who planted here
Sowed no ephemeral seed
For the seasonal tempests to scatter,
But the silent root that ripens in detachment,
    Flowers in renunciation.

Gardeners of eternity,
Those who planted here
    Framed the garden in the image of a desert
    And the desert in the image of a sea --
Then shrunk the seas to the mind's salt and, tasting,
    Dissolved all thought away.

On these rocks no water breaks. Without attrition
Tides and currents in this ocean rest and revolve
    In a void of sound, vortex of sand; perpetual
Circles enmesh and paralyzed sea and air:
The effigy of time and measure
    Purged of time and measure

Becalmed on this dead sea of being
No wave moves, no wind of desire
    Flexes the indolent sail.
But focussing its single eye
On dreamless immobility
The gulf like a burnished mirror
    Regards the empty void.

In this dead sea of vision the surges
Merge without movement; the tides
Indifferent to flood and ebb
    Freeze in a flux of haste.
The seagull without motion
Broods on the changeless waste,
Then sinks, his feathers frozen,
    In a sand ocean.

Frail caravels who sail
This subtle gulf, morte mer,
Who stir with urgent keel
The fossil waters of the Great Mirage,
    Or steer by lodestone to delusive ports:

In this calm beyond stasis, dead calm,
No compass points to the land,
    No magnet of attachment
    Guides the helmsman's hand
Through fifteen naked rocks in raked and rhythmic sand.

Here is no sea for the admirals,
The whalers, the merchants of cargoes --
    Those finite venturers for the temporal haven.
These depths are destination,
And naufrage sweeter than harbor.
    Shipwreck is haven on this inland sea.

  John M. Steadman
  20th Century

©1996-2002, Robert Cheetham; ©2019 Japanese Garden Research Network, Inc.
Contact Us Site Index Privacy Policy