The Richard and Helen DeVos Japanese Garden Opens to Rave Reviews

Japanes Garden 4Rockford Resident Kathy Ray was in total awe upon her first visit to The Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden colleen_piersonat Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.

“The beauty, tranquility and elegance I experienced on my first visit brought me to tears, she told the WKTV Citizen Journalism team.

Janina Pollatz, a Junior at Easter Michigan University, learned the true meaning of relaxation upon her time spent at the garden.

“After a stressful school year and competing in track all season, it was so relaxing to walk in and just slow down and experience the peacefulness and calmness of the surroundings,” she remarked.   Japanese Garden 2

The garden features traditional components such as waterfalls, elevation changes, extensive boulder placement, authentic Japanese structures and a functioning teahouse. The Japanese Garden,  embraces the essence of traditional Japanese gardens—tranquility, contemplation and beauty. The design effectively uses space to highlight contrasts between still and rushing water, between quietly intimate spaces and expansive open spaces, and between manicured and natural areas.

What a great opportunity to talk to the
What a great opportunity to talk to Steve La Warre

We had the opportunity to speak with Director of Horticulture Steve La Warre for a behind the scenes look at the design and execution of the Japanese Garden.

“This is an eight acre addition located in the middle of the 158- acre main campus.  It has been a four year ongoing project. Construction commenced in 2012 and we reached our fundraising goal of $22 million,” he explained.

That is the type of generosity that West Michigan residents can appreciate from the late Fred Meijer and wife Lena, Richard and Helen DeVos and over 200 community members.

Steve La Warre also shared the sheer uniqueness of working with designer Hoichi Kurisu to create this garden of innovation.

“He is from Japan and bought a house here in West Michigan and has been here for the past five years. During that time he transformed an expansive marsh and wooded valley into an international design that uses the garden space to its best potential as a sensory experience. Every tree, every boulder was placed by him. He is known for his use of space.”

“It has been a great honor for me to work on this very special project for Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park,” said Hoichi Kurisu, the garden’s master designer and president of Kurisu International, Inc. “Fred Meijer’s dream for such a garden for his wife Lena, and of Richard and Helen DeVos has become my dream, too.  My wish is that the beauty and tranquility of this space will touch the visitors very deeply for many generations to come.”Japanese Garden 3

As the WKTV Community News team experienced the garden, we thought about how the environment would change throughout all the seasons and how every location played off our senses. And standing by the rushing waterfalls, and Zen style garden took our daily stress away. We also marveled at the innovation, the beautiful views, and how lucky West Michigan is to have the garden at our path.  Japanese Garden 1