GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN – Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids is opening its $22 million Japanese garden after years of construction, offering a place for tranquility and contemplation that integrates contemporary sculpture with trees and plants.
The Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden makes its public debut Saturday. The roughly 8-acre (3-hectare) project features waterfalls, boulders, authentic Japanese structures such as bridges and gazebos, bonsai gardens and a functioning tea house.
The garden was designed by Japanese landscape architect Hoichi Kurisu, who transformed what previously was a marsh and wooded valley.
“My wish is that the beauty and tranquility of this space will touch the visitors very deeply for many generations to come,” Kurisu said in a statement.
The design contrasts still and rushing water, intimate and open spaces, and manicured and natural areas. It’s a year-round attraction and is named for Amway co-founder Richard DeVos Sr. and his wife, Helen, who helped fund the project.
Meijer Gardens said the Japanese garden was billionaire retail pioneer and philanthropist Fred Meijer’s last major wish for the 158-acre attraction that bears his name and is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Meijer, who built the Midwest retail powerhouse Meijer Inc., died in 2011 at age 91.
“Splendors of Shiga: Treasures from Japan” is on display, featuring many works of art not seen before outside Japan. In April, a large iron sculpture by Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei called “Iron Tree” was dedicated at Meijer Gardens.
The Japanese Garden features contemporary sculptures by Anish Kapoor, Zhang Huan, David Nash, Masayuki Koorida, George Rickey, Jenny Holtzer and Giuseppe Penone that belong to Meijer Gardens’ permanent collection.
The garden is “a familiar and calming space, but one that will change with the seasons and as it matures,” said Steve LaWarre, director of horticulture. “Gardens are never really finished — it’s a living thing that will continue to take shape and grow for generations to come.”