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The pointed rock at the base of the waterfall symbolizes a carp gazing upward, depicting the legend of a fish’s belief that if it only could ascend the waterfall, it would turn into a dragon, illustrating the value of perseverance. The zig-zag angle of a bridge is to keep evil from following you across since it can only follow a straight line.
The Normandale garden, which is maintained by the college, also bolstered Minnesota horticulture when architect Watanabe realized that no cherry trees were hardy enough to bloom here. In 1984, 24 seedlings from seeds collected from Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, were sent here and nurtured.
A single variety survived, one that had abundant blossoms, but also hardiness. ‘Spring Wonder’ now is propagated widely and sold in garden centers. The “mother” tree is planted prominently just outside the stucco wall that shelters the garden, with seven of its children within the garden.
Two years ago, the government of Japan commended the Japanese Garden Committee for its efforts in making such a cherry tree a part of American gardens.
For all the impulse to escape into the otherworldliness of such gardens, the cherry tree serves as a gentle reminder that real life also must be kept within view.
Kim Ode • 612-673-7185