Japanese garden on the central coast a break from beach life

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Behind the Gosford Regional Art Gallery hides the unexpected pleasure of a very good Japanese garden. The unlikely treasure is the Edogawa Memorial Garden, which emerged in 1990 as an idea to physically represent the sister city relationship between Gosford and Edogawa City, one of the Tokyo Metropolis neighborhoods.

Edogawa offered a donation for an authentic Japanese garden and Gosford proposed the site of a disused sewage treatment plant on Caroline Bay, which is part of the vast folds of coves, bays, islands, beaches and peninsulas. of Brisbane Waters.

Gosford’s unlikely treasure is the Edogawa Memorial Garden. Credit:Robin powell

Sydney-based designer Ken Lamb, of Imperial Landscapes, was in charge of the job. His mandate was to create a Japanese-style promenade-style garden. It aimed to marry the cultural and philosophical values ​​that are embedded in Japanese Gardens with enough Australian plants and materials to demonstrate the cultural sharing and understanding that are the essence of the Sister Cities movement – all in a public garden of ‘half a hectare.

Walk gardens developed during the Edo period in Japan and they often incorporated elements of older gardens and famous places. These were large gardens designed as a walk through ever-changing views. The walk would be sensual and aesthetic, while making cultural, philosophical and spiritual references. Some of the most famous Japanese promenade gardens are Kenrokuen in Kanazawa, Rikugien in Tokyo, and Kinkakuji (the Golden Pavilion) in Kyoto.

Take a break from the beach with a stroll in the Japanese Garden if you're on the Central Coast this summer.

Take a break from the beach with a stroll in the Japanese Garden if you’re on the Central Coast this summer.Credit:Robin powell

A stroll through Edogawa Memorial Garden passes streams and waterfalls, weaves through narrow passages and opens up to great vistas, passes manicured gardens to wilder and more “natural” sections, offers seats for contemplation in a dry gravel garden and reflects a charming tea pavilion in the calm waters of a lake. A koi pavilion and curved bridge refer to the gardens of the Heian period of the 9th and 10th centuries, when wealthy nobles enjoyed their gardens by floating in boats on vast lakes. There are hills and valleys, densely planted areas and widely open lawns – and, after 25 years, beautifully formed trees.

The use of Australian plants is fascinating. The soft, fine and slightly weeping port of Baeckea virgata is perfectly suited for cutting into rock shapes, just like the most commonly used westringia. Banksia spinulosa makes mounds of medium size; the lillypillies are background trees, and behind the gravel garden is a forest of casurinas. These complement and contrast with the traditional plants of the Japanese garden – azaleas and black pines, wisteria and irises.

The materials were also purchased locally. The teahouse and koi pavilion racks are bark iron, the six-meter curved bridge is Australian cypress, built by a local family of boat builders, and the rocks are locally mined basalt.

The interplay of Japanese style and Australian materials is perhaps most beautifully captured in the cutout window at the rear of the tea pavilion that overlooks the mangrove rim of Caroline Bay. The twisted trunks of the mangroves appear as calligraphic shapes against the sheet of light reflecting water, much like a brush painting.

If you’re vacationing on the Central Coast this summer, you can sit under that window and gaze at the koi pavilion and bridge framing the lake and its tiny white gravel beach, while considering the intricacies of cultural exchange – or you can just enjoy the birdsong, the breeze and the views – and a break away from beach life.

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