$22M Japanese Garden Planned For West Michigan

DETROIT (AP) – The Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park on Wednesday announced plans for a $22 million Japanese garden on its West Michigan grounds that could open in 2015 or 2016.

The 8-acre garden designed by Japanese landscape architect Hoichi Kurisu will be called “The Richard and Helen DeVos Japanese Garden” in recognition of Amway co-founder Richard DeVos Sr. and his wife, Helen, who are helping fund the project.

The garden will be in the northeast corner of the 132-acre Grand Rapids cultural attraction, with a design that aims for tranquility, simplicity and beauty. Zen, moss and bonsai gardens are planned, as well as bridges, waterfalls and a tea house.

“It has some of the important elements: elevation changes, water,” Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park’s President and CEO David Hooker said of plans for the site. “Because of the elevation changes, a certain tranquility already is there.”

Excavation could begin as early as this year, with the groundbreaking planned for no later than spring 2013. Contemporary sculpture will be incorporated into the garden, including a granite work by award-winning sculptor Anish Kapoor.

Hooker said the Japanese garden was billionaire retail pioneer and philanthropist Fred Meijer’s last major wish for the cultural attraction that bears his name. Fred Meijer, who built the regional retail powerhouse Meijer Inc., died in November at age 91.

Fred Meijer and his wife, Lena, also made significant gifts to help fund the Japanese garden.

“Japanese gardens are one of the most ancient and profound horticultural traditions in the world and we’re pleased to bring it to this Midwest cultural gem,” Richard DeVos said in a statement.

Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park’s master plan long had called for an international garden, and Hooker said Fred Meijer about two years ago raised the idea of a Japanese garden. He discussed the plans with Hooker the week he died, Hooker said.

“It’s going to give us another great opportunity for our guests to connect with art and nature in a different way,” Hooker said.

© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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