The New Orleans Botanical Garden in City Park was originally created in 1936 as part of the Works Progress Administration.
When I was at the New Orleans Museum of Art (also in City Park) for Japan Fest a few weeks ago, I found signs of the WPA on a bridge just outside the museum.
But this post isn’t about the WPA. Nor is it about NOMA or City Park ”” it’s about a small part of the gardens. Tucked away in a corner of the Botanical Garden is the Yakumo Nihon Teien, a small Japanese garden run by the local Japanese Garden Society. The garden is named after Lafcadio Hearn, a famous resident of New Orleans in the late 19th century. As a writer, he helped contribute to the exotic image of New Orleans. When he finished here, he went to Japan as a writer for Harper’s and ended up becoming a Japanese citizen, taking the name Koizumi Yakumo when he did. The garden is in part sponsored by Matsue, the city where he settled in Japan.
Mihoko Strong, whose husband Dr. Jack Strong is President of the Japanese Garden Society, gave tours of the garden during Japan Fest.
The garden was damaged in Katrina but still structurally sound for the most part. They reopened last year and also managed to expand their size with recent construction which was detailed on their website. It’s a wonderful space to enjoy and is very different from the rest of the garden. I wonder, though, if they should put up some signs telling people not to walk on the gravel.
In a month or so, this will be one of the few places in New Orleans to see fall colors.