Lotusland has announced the successful completion of the Restoring Body & Spirit renovation. Restoring the garden to provide physical spaces ensuring access to all and heighten the healing benefits of nature was a priority of the project.

The capstone campaign gift manifested after Manitou Fund Trustee Nora McNeely Hurley visited the Japanese Garden.

“Nora truly understands the purpose of a Japanese garden and its benefits to body and soul,” said Gwen Stauffer, Lotusland CEO. “We are deeply honored to receive this gift, the largest of our Restoring Body & Spirit Campaign. Nora’s gift will last beyond our lifetimes and impact countless visitors.”

The Manitou Fund grant was made in memory of Ann Sasaki, a woman beloved to Hurley and her family. This was the single largest campaign gift and completed the final capital portion of the campaign — enabling the renovation of key features including rebuilding of the reflecting pond, waterfall, and Lotus viewing deck.

The Manitou Fund gift also funds a new Japanese Garden Endowment dedicated solely to the perpetual care of the Japanese Garden, ensuring future generations with a natural environment for tranquil, meditative and inspiring experiences.

“Lotusland exists only with private support. The generosity of Nora McNeely Hurley and the Manitou Fund inspires hope and optimism for the future,” said Daniel Bifano, president of the Lotusland Board of Trustees.

“I am thrilled to see children and visitors experience the renovated Japanese Garden and enjoy the peaceful and renewing nature of this wonderful environment,” he said.

Ganna Walska created her Japanese Garden in the 1960s with stone mason Oswald “Ozzie” Da Ros, and garden designer Frank Fujii. This, the largest of any garden restoration at Lotusland, was required to repair aging infrastructure, create wheelchair access, restore original plant collections, and unify the Garden’s historic layers.

Today, there are new sweeping vistas, proximity to lotuses, and seating and gathering areas for programming and reflection.

“Lotusland’s Japanese Garden renovation is a triumph. It honors the spirit and legacy of the original Garden, enhances its natural character, and creates a space resonant in wonder. The Garden compels visitors to explore, to pause, and to be calm,” said Kendall Brown, historian, curator and author of Quiet Beauty: The Japanese Gardens of North America.

With support from hundreds of community members, corporations, volunteers, staff and docents, fundraising topped $9 million. This is the largest renovation in the 26-year history of the nonprofit Public Garden.

— Bob Craig for Lotusland.