Gardens established 1972 and construction continued into 1980s
Daily, 8am to Sunset; Closed Christmas
No admission fee. Parking varies; but Botanic Garden members are free
Added to JGarden:
Elizabeth Braun, Benjamin Carroll, Mary Plunkett
The Elizabeth Hubert Malott Japanese Garden, also called Sansho-en (literally, Garden of Three Islands) is built on three islands in an artificial lake. The first of the three islands composing the 17.3 acre Malott Japanese Garden is Keiunto (Island of Auspicious Cloud), the largest and highest. In this island's dry garden, gravel represents water and plants symbolize land. On Keiunto, mounds of azaleas cover an entire hillside and are particularly striking when they are in bloom. Shoin House a retreat house of the Edo period, features a moss garden with kesa pattern carved water basin, pond views, and presentations by docents a couple of days a week. Check for the docents' schedule. The second island, Seifuto (Island of Clear, Pure Breezes) is named for the gentle winds that refresh the island. Seifuto features wooded spaces and tranquil views of the other two islands. The third island, Horaijima, beckons from afar and can be appreciated only from a distance. It is the Island of Everlasting Happiness, representing a paradise inaccessible to mere mortals.
Dr. Koichi Kawana designed this garden in the kaiyu-shiki, or promenade style developed in Japan in the 17th century. Visitors follow curving paths, a form that allows the garden to reveal itself slowly.
Throughout spring and summer, Sansho-en is a lush and beautiful space that uses many shades of green with punctuations of blooms, said senior horticulturist Benjamin Carroll. The autumn color is also very vibrant. Many visitors admire the garden's softness, silhouettes, and shadows after a winter snow.
The entire Chicago Botanic Garden is 385-acres with more than 26 different gardens and several educational greenhouses of interest to all members of the family. Narrated tram tours available. A cafe, gift shop, and ask a Master Gardener service are available in the Visitor Center.
Construction: A Japanese garden was included in the original plans for the Chicago Botanic Garden. Work began on Sansho-en in the early 1970s to design and build the islands. In the late 1970s and early 1980s the planting was completed. Shoin House and other structures were built and the garden was dedicated in September 1982.
In 2006, the Japanese Garden and the Shoin House were rededicated in honor of Elizabeth Hubert Malott who endowed the ongoing operations of this garden.
With the south wind a gentle goddess came.
She soaked the bronze, she soaked the fountain,
She soaked the swallow's belly and its feathers of gold.
She hugged the tide, lapped the sand, drank the fish.
Secretly she soaked the temple, the bath-house, the theatre,
The confusion of her platinum lyre --
the tongue of the goddess -- secretly.
Soaked my tongue.
Nishiwaki Junzaburô trans. by Bownas and Thwaite 20th century