ceremonial planting to mark the event
Ceremonial planting to mark the event

29 September,Thimphu: A 1.5 acre garden constructed in traditional Japanese style at the Floriculture and Amenity Landscaping Centre, Dechencholing was handed over to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests. Named after the town which initiated cooperation, Miharu Garden was constructed from a JICA-funded partnership project by a group of specialists from Fukushima with the support of Bhutanese counterparts. JICA approved the project under the small-scale partnership scheme, for the period between November 2014 and March 2017.  It is being jointly implemented by the Department of Agriculture, Bhutan, and Fukushima Taki-Sakura Bhutan Committee, Japan.

The new Japanese garden’s dynamic design utilizes the area’s gradually declining, west-to-east slope, where a stream flows down toward the motor road in front of the palace gate. Stretching some 150 meters along the palace’s northern wall, the area was long untouched, formerly covered with dozens of trees and naturally grown-up bushes.  The river’s banks were also covered with a variety of overgrown grasses. To fill the space left after the clearance, dozens of flowering tree saplings were planted, including cherry and plums.  At several sections of the stream, a number of large stones are carefully thrown in to add new visual accents to the water flow.

“The essence of our landscaping tradition is to learn from the best aspects of Nature,” said Shigeji Nakada, a seed and landscaping business owner who designed the garden.  “To appreciate the natural beauty of the location where a park is built, we Japanese gardeners assist the nature by taking out unnecessary factors such as trees and bushes, and expose previously hidden forms and colors.”

The project was initiated by the people of Miharu Town, Fukushima, when they first visited Thimphu in February 2013 to donate cherry saplings from 1,000-year-old Taki-Sakura tree, in order to show appreciation and respect for His Majesty’s visit to Fukushima in November 2011, a half year after the devastating earthquake and tsunami disasters.

The garden is built in the Floriculture and Amenity Landscaping Centre, the 24-acre floriculture and gardening research facility under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, which is located just to the north of the Dechencholing Palace ground.

Toward the eastern end of the garden is a small pond, from where the stream runs down to the border of the FALC property.  Mr. Nakada and his colleague, Koichi Okabe, created the most distinctive “recreated nature” of the park there.  As the climax of the landscaping, Mr. Okabe designed a three-stage, seven-meter long waterfall, which is connected to the original river with a new, 20-meter channel.  Mr. Okabe led a team of several Bhutanese staff and volunteers to collect and move tons of rocks and stones, using a hired backhoe, since 22nd of September.  The new waterfall was built in seven days.

Hon’ble Secretary, MoAF graced the occasion as Chief Guest. The event was also attended by officials from JICA and MoAF.

Submitted by Tandin Dorji and photo by Choidup Zangpo, ICS


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