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Ashland reveals updated Japanese Garden plan

A revised plan for the Japanese Garden in Lithia Park will highlight two Douglas fir trees that earlier had been proposed for elimination.

The new plan was introduced Monday to the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission Monday.

APRC is expected to vote on the garden plan at its next business meeting, scheduled from 7 to 10 p.m. Monday, Oct. 28, at City Council chambers, 1175 E. Main St.

Plans to improve the Japanese-style garden in Lithia Park were approved 3-2 by APRC in January. The original plan included the removal of two large Douglas fir trees planted by the Ashland Boy Scouts in 1924, but several Ashland residents strongly opposed their removal.

Jeff Mangin, who speadheaded the project and offered to donate money for the redesign, put a hold on the redesign because of the dissent caused by the proposed tree removal.

Mangin’s hope for the garden was to create a place of unity and peace in honor of his late wife, Beatrice Marechal, with whom he used to talk about how to improve the garden.

Mangin and his late wife’s family offered to donate $1.3 million to renovate the garden plus $60,000 a year for the first decade to fund maintenance.

The parks department allots $20,000 a year for maintenance of the garden, but with the improvements the cost could increase to between $70,000 and $80,000.

Ashland Parks & Recreation Director Michael Black said he believes all of the concerns have been addressed and the plan can move forward.

The changes to the new plan include:

  • Two Douglas firs will remain at the northeast corner
  • Bamboo at the northeast corner has been eliminated
  • A block wall that extends west from the sidewalk over roots of the Douglas firs was partly eliminated
  • Minor changes have been made to the entry gate area
  • Handwash basin were added to the entry near the fir trees
  • A small bamboo fence was added to Douglas fir area
  • Space has been set aside at the entry for an information booth
  • A stone path has been added to the Douglas fir area
  • The southern boundary of the garden will be expanded about two feet to accommodate some movement of other items in the garden.

The two fir trees are a part of a grove of 12 and will have a specialized tree protection plan created by an arborist who will monitor the protection of the trees during construction.

The boundaries of the amended plan have been marked on the site for the public to view.

“I think this is a great plan that brings both sides of an issue together in agreement, and we’re hoping to move forward with it,” Black said. “We can really consider the Japanese garden as a unifying element in the community now, and they seemed really pleased about it.”

He said the commission asked which trees will have specialized protection and what the boundary line will be for staging and construction.

Black said he’s hopeful that once he brings that information back to the commission it will approve the project and work can begin.

The designer, Toru Tanaka, was trained in Japan. He was the director of Portland’s Japanese Garden, crafting much of what is there today.

The plan calls for “rooms” in the garden that flow into each other and incorporate aspects such as a Zen garden, koi pond, 8-foot-tall waterfall, natural garden and a hanging wisteria garden.

In a previous interview, Mangin said he hoped the garden would be a beautiful addition to the community and would attract tourists to the downtown area and park.

“We’re really excited about this garden, and we’re excited about what it can offer for the community,” Mangin said.

For more information about the project, see Ashland.or.us, scroll over “departments,” click “parks and recreation,” click “parks division” and then click “get the latest info on the Japanese garden redesign.”

Contact Tidings reporter Caitlin Fowlkes at cfowlkes@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4496. Follow her on Twitter @cfowlkes6.

Andy Atkinson / Ashland Tidings John Warden of Ashland captures the fall colors in the Japanese Garden at Lithia Park Thursday morning.