News and Events

Botanical Buzz - Shoyoen

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Visitors passing through the elegant sukiyamon (Japanese gate) into Shoyoen, Dubbo Regional Botanic Garden leave the familiar and embark on a rich cultural experience.

Shoyoen is a living gift from our Sister City, Minokamo in Japan.  Its transcendent beauty and tranquillity has its source in ancient Japanese philosophy and art. The first manual of Japanese garden design ‘Sakuteiki’ was written at the end of the 11th century.

Japanese gardens are highly regarded stylised representations of the natural environment. Within the complex harmony of the garden design no element is more important than another.

The close and precise relationship between the garden elements is hard to preserve in a living and naturally changing environment so Japanese gardens require regular attention.

Shoyoen retains its special status as an authentic Japanese garden due to the vigilance of Dubbo City Council staff aided by a loyal group of local volunteers, and the guidance of expert Japanese gardeners.

Every year, professional gardeners from Minokamo come to Shoyoen to freely share their knowledge and work alongside Council staff to help maintain Shoyoen.

The iconic Japanese Black Pines (Pinus thunbergii) usually receive the most attention.

Japanese Black Pines are found along the coast of Japan. These robust pines are often bent, gnarled and windswept by the elements and look old beyond their years. They have a very distinctive natural beauty.

In Shoyoen, the Japanese gardeners use a unique set of pruning techniques to coax out the essential character of these stoic pines. These techniques include bud removal, candling and needle grooming. In addition, branches are trained to grow more horizontally and the trunk itself maybe bent over.

Slowly, the pines are beginning to imitate their windswept counterparts on Japan’s coastline, creating a special ambience within Shoyoen.

The spirit of the Sister City relationship between Dubbo and Minokamo manifests itself in the beauty of Shoyoen.
                                                                                                                                     By Ian McAlister & Karen Hagan