The jewel of the garden festival is shining again in all its original glory

Date: 18th March 2011

Publication: Liverpool Daily Post

It was one of the star attractions at the original International Garden Festival in 1984.

Now the finishing touches are being made to a new Japanese garden at the Otterspool site ahead of its opening to the public in June.

A landscape architect from the same company which designed the original garden in come over from Japan to oversee the work.

It has been restored from scratch to resemble the original Japanese garden as closely as possible.

Satoru Izawa is one of the team who travelled from Japan to work on the feature.

As well as planting flowers and shrubs, pruning the trees and positioning rocks he brought over a Japanese sign which has been placed at one of the garden’s two gateways.

Speaking through an interpreter, Mr Izawa said: “I am very thrilled and proud to be asked to come back to the site and help restore such a beautiful garden.

“The features of the garden, such as the plants and the waterfall, are all really authentic. For many visitors, the Japanese garden was the highlight of the festival site.”

The restoration team is still awaiting the arrival of three authentic Japanese lanterns, and a water basin, which were made in Tokyo, to place in the garden.

The focus of the Japanese garden is the “azumaya”, or rest house, which was redesigned and re-built after the original was burned to the ground.

This was Mr Izawa’s second visit to the Festival Gardens site since restoration work began 12 months ago.

His visit was arranged by the site owners Langtree, the restoration contractor Mayfield and the Japanese Society North West.

It also provided an opportunity for the city to re-establish the link between the Japanese Garden and its original designer – now in his 80s – who works with Mr Izawa at Hakone Ueki, the company which originally created the Japanese garden.

The original garden was presented to the people of Liverpool by the Japanese government in 1984.

Mr Izawa said: “The team have done a fantastic job since I was last here. The restoration is really taking shape and I’m pleased to see how sympathetic the work is to a garden we would create in Japan.

“It is important Japanese Gardens are formed adhering to our strict design values and that they often reflect formations which occur in the natural world.

“Liverpool’s Japanese Garden is being delivered with great care and attention to detail, making it one of the most genuine Japanese Gardens in the world.”

Site manager Will Abram added: “When we first arrived on site, everything was overgrown and you could not even see the structure.

“The garden has effectively been built from scratch, based on the original designs.

“It is one of the key areas and it should rekindle a lot of peoples’ memories.

“It really is an art form to create something like this. You can look at it from any angle and get a different perspective on what the garden looks like. It’ll look fantastic when it comes into bloom.”

The restoration of the festival gardens – which fell victim to vandalism and neglect after their closure in 1984 – was made possible by a 3.7m grant from the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA).

Planning permission was granted in July 2008 for the restoration of the gardens, along with the development of new homes on part of the site.
Richard Tracey, head of environmental quality at the NWDA, said the restoration was “a pivotal moment in the long-term regeneration of this part of Liverpool.”

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