Friendship grows in special gardenLike the crowd that gathered for its dedication Tuesday, Superior’s Friendship Garden mingles Japanese and American cultures.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Like the crowd that gathered for its dedication Tuesday, Superior’s Friendship Garden mingles Japanese and American cultures.
“There are some of the plants in here that are native to Japan, like the Japanese maple right there,” said Joe Braeu, who owns Edelweiss Nursery in Duluth with his wife Debbie. “And to accompany that are some elm trees, which are American, and maple. So it’s kind of like trying to interconnect both worlds.” Other Japanese plants – tree lilacs, a cherry tree, peonies and a weeping Katsura tree – share the space with paths, granite benches and local rocks like taconite and jasper.
When the plans were made for the garden, it was meant to symbolize the heart of the friendship between Superior and its sister city, Ami-Machi, Japan.
“I think friendship and this type of peace and face-to-face and person-to-person contact is so vital in this time when there’s so much strife in the world,” said Julie Halom, chairwoman of Superior’s Sister City Commission. The garden, she said, is a reflection of what delegates have achieved over the last 13 years.
Since 1997, more than 300 Japanese delegates – students and adults – have visited Superior. They have left behind friends, formed bonds. In the same vein, students and adults have traveled to Ami-Machi to live with host families, participate in the city’s festival and learn more about their culture.
“And we want that friendship to continue and grow,” Halom said. “And a garden is a perfect way to grow a friendship.”
The garden has been many years in the making, said Superior Mayor Dave Ross. It was funded by $25,000 in city dollars and donations from local individuals and businesses. Members of the Superior Sister City Commission played a key role in designing and creating the green space, said Parks and Recreation Administrator Mary Morgan.
A Superior Forest garden was dedicated in Japan six years ago by then-mayor Koji Kawata
“The Superior Woods in Ami is a little bit different in that it’s in a larger forest area, but this is also a very beautiful setting,” Kawata said Tuesday. “It’s so wonderful that this, this has finally come to fruition. Very pleased.”
The one-acre setting, on the southern edge of Billings Park, is meant for quiet contemplation.
“It looks great,” said Japanese delegate Nakanishi Kazunori.
And it will continue to grow, Ross said. There are plans for a second phase – stepping stones, a bridge and a dry riverbed.
“This will be a beautiful work in progress,” Ross said. “It is also a nice addition to Billings Park.”
The placement of the site was perfect, according to Morgan.
“It’s a piece of the park that was underutilized,” she said. “A very beautiful spot that has a calm, peaceful atmosphere.”
The park offers an international element found nowhere else in the city’s park system, and serves as a symbol of friendship.
“I’d like to just finish with again thanking everyone for their efforts in making this wonderful garden,” Kawata said. “And my hopes that our relationship and the continuing development of the garden can continue.”
The delegates from Japan arrived in Superior Monday. Other activities planned for the group during their stay include tours of Fairlawn Mansion and Cathedral Church, a trip to Canal Park, a harbor cruise and a fish boil. They leave for Ami-Machi Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Superior delegation is beginning to look for Superior students and adults interested in flying to Japan next year.
“We have many friends over there and I think they look at having many friends over here,” Halom said. Anyone interested in learning more about Superior’s Sister City can visit www.ci.superior.wi.us. For more information on the upcoming delegation, Friendship Garden or ways to get involved, call Rani Gill at (715) 395-7212 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.