While balcony container gardeners enjoy their small-space urban gardens, sometimes a few container plants on an apartment balcony above a busy street just isn’t peaceful enough. Balcony gardeners might not be able to have a peaceful, large garden, but there are public gardens and arboretums near every major city. Don’t just fawn over pictures of luxurious gardens, get out there and enjoy a day at a public garden! You may even bring some gardening inspiration home to your own balcony container garden.
If you live in or are visiting the San Francisco, Calif., area, why not visit San Francisco Japanese Tea Garden.
- The 5-acre Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco is the oldest public Japanese garden in the United States. It was originally created as a “Japanese Village” exhibit for the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition. Makoto Hagiwara, a Japanese immigrant and gardener, converted the exhibit into the permanent park it is today. Mr. Hagiwara and his family lived in and maintained the park until they were forced to relocate to an internment camp in 1942. He was not allowed to return.
- The Japanese Tea Garden includes an arched drum bridge you can climb, pagodas, stone lanterns, stone paths through koi ponds, Japanese plants and a zen garden. You can’t miss the large bronze Buddha given to the garden in 1949 and the 9,000-pound Lantern of Peace purchased with contributions from children in Japan as a symbol of friendship to the United States in 1953.
- Make sure to visit in March and April when the cherry trees bloom. Makoto Hagiwara had 1,000 cherry trees imported from Japan.
- According to the Hagiwara family, Makoto Hagiwara first introduced fortune cookies to the United States.
- Enjoy a cup of tea and a light snack at the tea house. You can also participate in a tea ceremony, once only available to Japanese priests, for $25 on Wednesday or Friday (price includes food, drink and a keepsake paper fan).
- Take a free 45-minute guided tour of the Japanese garden. Tours are at 1pm every day, as well as 9:30am every Monday and Wednesday. Check sfcityguides.org for more information.
San Francisco Japanese Tea Garden Quick Info
75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park
$5 for residents ($3 for seniors and children 5 to 11), $7 for non-residents ($ for seniors and children 5 to 11)
Open daily from 9am-6pm (closes at 4:45 in winter)