The repairs to the Japanese garden are almost complete



Minnedosa’s Ishii Japanese Garden is set to reopen soon to visitors looking for a taste of Japan in the heart of Westman after COVID-19 and flooding has kept it closed for the past 18 months.

The garden, which is located behind the Minnedosa Regional Library, is inspired by those of the Land of the Rising Sun.

“It’s mostly about shape and texture and that sort of thing, rather than the color of the flowers,” said Albert Parsons, president of the Minnedosa Horticultural Society.

“There are different trees and shrubs that have different colors and different leaf shapes.”

The Minnedosa Horticultural Society looks after the garden and the plants inside, Parsons said. It was first built with the help of landscape architecture students at the University of Manitoba in 2008 as part of a cultural exchange between the city and Ishii, Japan.

Maintaining the garden is a “pretty big” commitment for the members, he said, and includes weeding and constant maintenance.

The garden is normally open to the public for walking, but has been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This meant that the company couldn’t hold any of its annual events, including opening the garden to visitors to see the iris flowers bloom.

The shutdown was disappointing for some residents in the spring, but Parsons said guards were unwilling to take any chances.

There are also flowers of clematis growing on a trellis against a wall in the garden, which Parsons says started blooming in mid-July.

The garden also includes a Zen garden of raked sand, stone lantern statues, metal crane statues, and ornamental grasses.

DREW MAY / THE BRANDON SUN

A stone dedication block near the center of Ishii Japanese Garden.

The garden was damaged by flooding after heavy rains dumped a huge amount of precipitation on Brandon and Westman in 2020, he said. Repairs are almost complete, however, and an ornamental bamboo fence around the Zen garden is currently being repaired.

“We’re still in the process of restoring it and putting it back. It was uprooted because of the water in it,” Parsons said.

“(The garden) has been underwater for probably a week and a half or so. We’re lucky not many plants died. But things like the bamboo lattice fence took a hit.”

There was also a significant amount of debris left in the garden and the earth was washed away, he said. The walkways through the garden had to be electrically washed after the flooding to clean up the silt.

Parsons said the hope is to reopen it to tourists in the near future.

The Minnedosa Horticultural Society plans to put up a sign made by a local steelworker directing people to the garden so more people can see it, he said.

“People might be more aware that it’s there when we get the sign,” he said.

There is no guest book in the garden, so the horticulture company is not sure exactly how many people are using the garden. There is a bench, however, and Parsons said people can sit down to take it.

“The members of the horticultural society have been working and weeding and so on, and often people will come, and it’s quite interesting how often they come from out of town,” he said.

“The people who created it worked a lot on it, and I think it’s a unique feature of our city.”

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