Cranbrook’s Japanese garden gets boost with renovation grant

By Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham – Bloomfield Eagle | Published October 15, 2018

The Lily Pond Cascade inside Cranbrook Gardens’ Japanese garden recently received a grant to repair the century-old space.
Photo provided by Eric Franchy, of Cranbrook House and Gardens

BLOOMFIELD HILLS — It’s more than a century old and one of just a few of its kind in the entire country.

Now the Japanese garden at the Cranbrook estate is finally getting its due with a much-needed renovation, thanks to support from the Consulate General of Japan in Detroit.

The Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research announced recently that it has received one of just six coveted global grants from the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism that will kick off the necessary work to the garden, which was created in 1915 by Cranbrook founder George Booth and his father, Henry Wood Booth.

Mayuko Chashiro, of the Consulate General of Japan’s office in Detroit, said the ministry’s grant was instituted last year with the hopes of sparking an interest in Japanese culture and inspiring visitors to travel to Japan.

The work is primarily focused on the Lily Cascade Pond portion of the garden and is designed by Sadafumi Uchiyama, the curator of the Portland Japanese Garden in Oregon.

The Japanese government supplemented the funds to repair the Lily Pond Cascade inside the more than 100-year-old Japanese garden.
Photo provided by Eric Franchy, of Cranbrook House and Gardens

“(The Japanese garden) is one of the oldest in North America and, due to periodic flooding and other reasons, had become overgrown in recent years. Water was blocked from flowing into the Lily Pond Cascade, the section where this first phase of work was just completed. Thanks to the grant from the Japanese MLIT, water once again tranquilly flows through the cascade,” Eric Franchy, the public relations manager for Cranbrook House and Gardens, said in an email.

“(We’d like to) respect the history and legacy of the gardens while also taking the opportunity to enhance it,” said Gregory Wittkopp, director of the Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research. “Our goal is to make sure that this becomes a garden that is actively used for a variety of reasons, that people find meaning here.”

Chashiro said the Lily Cascade Pond is a perfect project to receive the Japanese government’s support, which includes authentic contributions from six gardeners brought to Cranbrook from the Japanese Federation of Landscape Contractors last week for the effort.

“We hope this contribution from the government of Japan will bring beauty and serenity to the garden for many generations to come,” Consul General Mitsushiro Wada said during a kickoff event at the garden last week.

For more information about the rejuvenation of Cranbrook’s Japanese garden, contact the Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research at (248) 645-3307 or email

Cranbrook House and Gardens is located at 380 Lone Pine Road in Bloomfield Hills.

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