December in the Japanese Garden

December 7, 2016 Ebi Kondo , Curator of the Japanese Garden

The name of the Japanese Garden at Denver Botanic Gardens, 松風園 Sho-Fu-En, means ‘The garden of pine and wind’ and was inspired by the Rocky Mountain wilderness. 

During our growing season, we often think of evergreens as a background to colorful flowers and leaves. Winter precedes the vivid colors of spring and summer which then fade away in the fall. Now the evergreens become the focus in the Japanese Garden as most plants go dormant until next spring.

December is a wonderful time of the year in the Japanese Garden. We welcome various shades of green against the greys and browns of the early winter landscape. The ancient ponderosa character pines display their movement and structure showcasing the rugged Rocky Mountain scenery. The pines cast their shadow on the lake and the water reflects gentle winter sunlight, changing its appearance throughout the day.

In the early morning after a cold and snowy December night, you will find the quiet beauty of 松風園 on the snowcapped flexible ponderosa pine branches. Snow flocks the juniper’s needled branches and the Russian hawthorn’s red berries. Atop the fresh snow we often find a variety of animal footprints, evidence of the mysterious activities of nocturnal creatures in the garden. These slowly melt away under Colorado’s bright winter sunlight.



Beautiful season | Lovely description

Thank you Ebi. What a lovely name for the Japanese Garden, Sho-Fu-En, ‘The garden of pine and wind’. I live in the foothills west of Boulder on several acres filled with Ponderosa pines on the south-facing slopes and spruce and fir on the north-facing, and yes, it is very windy up here. Your description of the garden in winter is so apt. The texture of the foliage looks beautiful with snow, against fog or sunlight and being blown by the wind. Sho-Fu-En is one of my favorite places at the DBG; I always go there when I visit. Thank you!

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