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Garden Workshops: Come to Understand

A visit to the Garden can evoke many feelings: serenity, joy, and often curiosity. It brings about questions like, “how did that pine get its beautiful contours?” and “how did they craft that bamboo fence?” While hearing an explanation is certain­ly enlightening, a hands-on learning experience of actually doing a task can leave a more profound impression.

Photo by Jonathan Ley

Giving enthusiasts a sense of a Japanese gardener’s craft through garden workshops is part of the Garden’s dedica­tion to providing educational programming that cultivates a deeper understanding of the Japanese garden and its related cultural practices. The Garden’s workshops cover topics in­cluding pine and maple pruning, bamboo fence construction, nobedan (pavement construction), and the New Year’s tradition of kadomatsu.

All of the workshops are taught by Garden staff. Not only can they explain the skills and techniques for the given subject, but they can draw firsthand examples for explanation from the Garden itself.

Photo by Jonathan Ley

Because the instructors are dedicated to providing a learn­ing experience grounded in authenticity, materials for these workshops can be difficult or time-consuming to procure. Further, the combination of lectures and hands-on experience requires a low student-instructor ratio, so the number of par­ticipants is strictly limited for each event. Sometimes it isn’t possible to get a space on the first try. Participant feedback, though, suggests it’s worth the wait.

Portland architect and longtime Garden member, Paige Goga­nian attended the 2017 bamboo fence construction workshop and said the experience surpassed her expectations.

“The hands-on approach and camaraderie created by staff allowed me to learn with my entire body, not just my brain. The workshop was a challenge, a pleasure, and ultimately, very satisfying and enlightening.”

2018 Garden Workshop Series

2018’s Garden Workshop series kicks off with Bamboo Fence Construction from March 17-18. Though that workshop is already sold out, the following workshops remain:


Waza to Kokoro – Hands and Heart” is an intensive training seminar in the art of the Japanese garden with special focus on the use of stone. This holistic learning experience is woven from threads of garden history, Japanese aesthetics, design, stonework, pruning, traditional tool use and care, tea ceremony, and food culture.

  • Intermediate Level: July 19-30, 2018 (Application deadline has passed, but inquiries are still accepted.)
  • Beginner Level: September 20-27, 2018 (Due March 31, 2018)