Azaleas like you’ve never seen them before!
I came for the azaleas, then ran back again every month, because this garden’s flower displays are seriously impressive, year round. Many botanical gardens sacrifice landscape design to cram in the variety of plants that satisfy seekers of specimens, but this one does both, and does it so well that it’s a pleasure to explore every corner, whatever your passion. Plus, you can do that for hours! This place is vast, with paths and lawns that are never crowded, and no matter how many times I go, I never fail to find a new corner that surprises and delights.
The plum garden is a lovely stroll through acres of rare varieties…
…including this beauty, which is especially shapely for a plum tree, after being trained trained for decades. Plums are usuallly in full bloom by early March.
The early-blooming weeping cherries (late March) put on the kind of show that hanami worshippers can usually only dream of…
…and many venerable specimens are still blooming strong (early April), despite having passed their three-hundredth birthdays.
The Ni-No-Maru garden at the Imperial Palace used to be the standard by which I measured azaleas, but these are not only far more varied, they stand chest-high! Wandering among them in the month of April is like being lost in a fairytale maze.
The small, but choice, peony garden’s stunning varieties bloom in late April to early May…
…just as the wisteria is coming into flower nearby. I’ve never seen such a variety of prolifically blooming wisteria outside of the Ashikaga Flower Park!
Even on the hottest days of summer, the forest stream that meanders through the middle of the garden is a refreshing walk, with steppingstone bridges criss-crossing it along the way.
Or you can escape the elements by wandering into the vast greenhouse, which houses a tropical plant stroll, a cactus garden, and rooms full of blooming orchids and begonias
The rose garden is famous, attracting many visitors between May and August
Even between the well-known flower seasons, you can chance across something delightful in bloom
As summer slides into fall (Sept-Oct), the dahlia garden dishes up some eye candy, getting us ready for…
…autumn leaves. The sugi trees are the first to go (in mid-October)…
…followed by the Japanese maples (November).
But even if you’re a leaf maven, you’ll be stunned by the crazy chrysanthemum competition that happens in November.
Displays include miniature bonsai landscapes like this one, in addition to waterfalls of blooms shaped like Shizuoka Prefecture (go figure!), tiered confections clambering artfully over rocks, and the usual varieties of absolutely perfect pom-poms and spider mums.
This jewel of a garden is outside of central Tokyo, but it’s well worth the trip. If you take an express train (Keio Line) from Shinjuku Station, it takes about twenty minutes to get to Chofu Station, then it’s a ten minute bus ride to the main entrance (take the 4 or the 6 Odakyu bus from outside the North Exit) or an easy thirty minute walk. I guarantee, you won’t be disappointed!
If you decide to walk, you cross the Chofu River on the way, and if it happens to be cherry blossom season…this!
Hours: 9:30 – 17:00
Open: Every other day except Dec 29 – Jan 1.
Admission: Adults: ¥500, Children: ¥250
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For three hundred years, a missing tea bowl passes from one fortune-seeker to the next, changing the lives of all who possess it… read more
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Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, produces the monthly e-magazine , and blogs at Japanagram and Only In Japan The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had