When the newsletter came from my garden club, and I read the next meeting is a field trip to Osaka gardens I got excited. Japanese gardens turn me on. They are among the most aesthetic works of art planted. All things about the gardens promote peace, serenity, and well-being. The placement of rocks, the stones selected for grain and texture, the plantings, and the flow of water all lend to the experience. Since I had never heard of Osaka Gardens I had to find it on Map-Quest. Surprise, the garden is a tiny dot inside a huge tract on the south side of Chicago called Jackson Park. As a kid of thirteen I went to this park many times by streetcar to drown worms. The lagoons were very accessible to fisherman, and they connect to Lake Michigan making them abundant in fish species. I kept my record intact, I never caught a single fish there, but I spent many happy hours trying.
The map program pinpointed the place exactly and the adventure began. Getting there after a sixty-three year absence made it more exciting. As it turned out, the map program and the GPS took the excitement out of the ride because I merely followed instructions and got to the exact place without a single wrong turn.
At the parking lot our members grouped and found Karen Szyjka waiting for us. This young woman sports the impressive title of Operations Support Manager, Department of Natural Resources for the Chicago Park District. She explained her role as one of managing and maintaining the Osaka Garden and other Park District gardens in Grant Park. Karen was a fantastic tour guide. She told us about every aspect of the Osaka Gardens and the history of the place. Even though I have lived in the Chicago area all of my life I had never heard about the place. Yet, it came into existence during the Columbian Exposition in 1893. During its lifespan the garden has gone through several reconstructions. The garden went into decline after years of wear and then needed reconstitution and refurbishing. The worst decline happened during the nineteen forties. Hello, I guess we were not very happy about the Japanese bombing Pearl Harbor.
Currently the garden is very happy, and Karen has made it her life’s work. She knows every tree, plant, rock, and pebble in the garden. She spoke to us with passion and excitement during her hour-long walk along the path winding around the garden. The views of the Museum of Science and Industry, the only building remaining from the Exposition and the World’s Fair, framed by the garden were astounding. My point and shoot camera did not do the views justice, neither did the photographer.
After the tour, most of our group stayed and picnicked along the shores of the lagoons watching the beauty around them. Peg and I escaped for a second adventure on our own. I decided to tour my boyhood neighborhood, and awaken some old memories. A wise man once wrote “you can never go back home,” and I will add “and you shouldn’t.”
If you get the opportunity to visit the Osaka Garden take it. If you are a garden nut or just a Chicago nut, you will love it.
Filed under: Biography, Birds, Garden, Garden,pond,, Gardening, Pond, Ponds | Tagged: Chicago Park District, Japanese Garden, Phoenix-Osaka Gardens | 4 Comments »