Paradise on Earth
Article and photos by Kathleen
What better place to be on a sunny spring
day than in a fertile garden surrounded by luxuriant plants and
bubbling brooks. One such magic location is Anderson Japanese
Gardens in Rockford., Illinois. As you enter the garden. all
your senses are rewarded. A fresh earthy fragrance mingles with
the sounds of a small tumbling stream and multi-shades of green
Anderson Gardens' beauty is of a more tranquil
nature than the blatant in-your-face garden filled with roses
and hothouse blooms. Instead it is an inspirational place of
peace and tranquility. The kind of place that inspires you to
relax and dream.
|One of the footbridges at
Anderson Japanese Gardens
Appropriate since the gardens grew out of a
dream. John Anderson first visited Japan in 1966 just after
graduating from college to explore the country and to learn
about its culture.
He and his fraternity brother spent time with
a long time family business associate and friend, Mr. Akira Ohno
and John was impressed with Mr. Ohno's beautiful Japanese garden
and with the Japanese culture in general.
He returned again
in 1978 on a business trip and his love of all thing Japanese
was rekindled. At this time he was married and he and his wife,
Linda, had moved into a new home. Some of their land behind the
home contained a pond fed by Spring Creek, he realized it was a
perfect site for a Japanese garden. John began the garden in
1978 and hired Hoichi Kurisu, who had designed the Japanese
Garden Complex in Portland, Oregon and was recognized at the
best Japanese garden designer in the country.
|One of the waterfalls at
Anderson Japanese Gardens
The grounds consist of two extremely
different areas; the first is a Japanese formal garden done in
the style popular in 1185 through 1333 A.D., while the Tea
House, Guest House much of the garcens are done in the 16th
century Sukiya style. The three elements of the gardens are;
rocks, water and plants. The first waterfall was built in 1981.
In 1983., the gardens began offering tours
Over the next 30 plus years the garden
evolved and additions were made to it.
Guest House gardens were
completed In 1986 and the West Waterfall was begun. Later, the
Anderson Center was acquired and the Blue Iris Visitors Center
|Miles Nielsen band at Anderson
When Anderson Gardens added the Restaurant
at Anderson Gardens, in April of 2008, they continued with the
idea that a Japanese garden is supposed to relax and refresh
guests. To this end the restaurant has two outdoor decks
overlooking the gardens where patrons can view the garden and
hear the tinkling waterfalls.
John's son, David Anderson now manages the gardens
that begun when he
was only seven years old. He grew up with them and, according
David, the gardens are still evolving. When he was
growing up, he liked to retreat to the pagoda above a tall
Waterfall Gardens. "It was my backyard growing up," he
What a backyard! When I visited with a
travel media group we were treated to a fantastic dinner in the
gardens. The music of Miles Nielsen and his band, Rusted Heart.
Miles is the son of Rick
Nielsen, of Cheap Trick fame, a native of Rockford but he has a
style that has won him acclaim in his own right.
|Fireworks over Anderson Japanese
As I explored the turning paths and wooden
bridges and discovered treasures at every turn,
I knew what the Garden of
Eden must have looked like. Azaleas, rhododendrons, Japanese
maples and many other species flow in harmony with the ponds,
streams, waterfalls and rock formations. Wild life lives in the
protected underbrush, the flash of shiny fish can be seen in the
ponds and birds flutter around the tree tops. A Japanese tea
house and guest house,
bronze angels sculpted by Carl Milles all blend into a place of
The evening finished off with a display of
fireworks over the gardens that finished off a perfect evening
For more info:
Ads fund American Roads so please consider them for your needed
If you enjoy the articles we offer, donations
are always welcome.