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Japanese Gardens

 Posted: 2:00 AM November 10, 2012

The Japanese Gardens, tucked into one of the least-traveled parts of Lithia Park, could really be in the Land of the Rising Sun. But fortunately for us, the gardens' serene beauty and Zen-like quiet are steps away from Winburn Way.

A stroll along the watercourse leads to different ponds, all with unique sounds.

Here, too, are trees dressed in their fall colors as bright as fireworks. Japanese maples display a layering of burnt orange, russet and deep crimson. Cypress, hemlock and other coniferous shrubs and trees exhibit varying degrees of greens, and ginkgo trees flutter with butter-yellow leaves that eventually carpet the ground. All create a new daily watercolor painting.

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"It's ever-changing throughout the season," says Anne Thayer, the park's horticulturist. "And every year you see something appealing to your senses. You really notice trees in the fall because of their colors."

The Japanese Gardens, which were created in the 1980s with a small donation, are also a great learning experience, with small monochrome signs naming the plants.

You might be surprised to read that some of the trees were originally from China, but are often found in traditional Japanese gardens. And there are a few native shrubs used as ornamentals and other plant materials.

Who knew that a walk across from the tennis courts could take you to new worlds?

Amelia Covert Zeve, 13, is an Ashland-based writer and wilderness enthusiast who attends Ashland Middle School. Contact her at

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