Carbondale Public Library’s Japanese Garden was officially opened on September 29, 1988, as part of Arts in Celebration ’88. Evergreen Garden Club developed a plan for the garden, and Southern Illinois Landscaping Services installed it. The project took about two years to complete and cost $5,000.
One of the garden’s most popular features is a weeping cherry tree, which is a beautiful sight in the spring and a favorite with library patrons. The garden also includes Blue Rug juniper, azaleas, rhododendrons, mugho pines, variegated liriope, threadleaf maple, Japanese maple, bird nest cypress, and Japanese black pine.
A patio with benches adjacent to the garden provides a place for people to relax and enjoy the serenity of this quiet, peaceful spot. In 1996, another Japanese lantern was added to the garden. It is from a 1902 World’s Fair display and was donated from the estate of Mary Marberry Swindell. Mrs. Swindell had been a trustee on the Carbondale Public Library Board for 20 years. The Evergreen Garden Club continues to assist the public library with the garden’s upkeep.
The original Evergreen Garden Club Japanese Garden committee members were: Barbara Lesar (Chair), Sue Casebeer, Sadako Clarke, Jean Morrill, Polly Fink, Marge Patton, Carol Christensen.
An initial plan incorporated placement of berms and rocks on the uncompromisingly flat site. Money from gifts and fundraisers allowed hiring a professional, Cheryl Francis of Southern Illinois Landscaping. Large rocks were donated by Jerry and Boyd Butler. Other gifts in kind included small rock and gravel by Southern Illinois Landscaping, removal of soil by E. T. Simonds Company, shredded bard and handmade wood signs by the Carbondale Park District, extension of a fence by the library, and donation of two trees by Memorial Hospital of Carbondale. City of Carbondale workers moved topsoil onto the site, and a local ceramist, Lois Lembcke, donated a stoneware lantern.
For more than 30 years the Evergreen Garden Club volunteers have raised funds and generously donated their own time, money and materials to maintain the Japanese Garden. In 2012 they commissioned a beautiful stone retaining wall, artfully crafted by local mason Philip Harville. Then, one January morning in 2016 we found the garden vandalized. Trees were destroyed, boulders unseated from the retaining wall, a stone bench and flagstones cracked, plants trampled. The library set up a fundraiser, and the club went into action. Soon there were enough funds to repair, and even improve the Japanese Garden, so the club decided to expand the garden. Through generous volunteer efforts and donations, misfortune was transformed into opportunity. What was a tragedy became an inspiration. There is a Japanese word, Kintsugi, which speaks to the beauty of repairing what is broken. We are eternally grateful to the Evergreen Garden Club for their years of support, and to the many volunteers and donors who’ve assist with this beautiful act of Kintsugi.
The donations listed below are for repairing the garden as of March 7, 2016. Donations are always welcome. There are maintenance costs incurred every year. Tax deductible donations can be made to the Carbondale Public Library with a note that your donation is for the Japanese Garden.
Willow Cherry Blossom Level Donors ($1,000 or more)
Japanese Maple Level Donors ($500 or more)
Friends of the Carbondale Public Library, Greenridge Landscaping (donated labor and materials), Sumera Makhdoom, Susan Tulis
Japanese Black Pine Level Donors ($100 or more)
Anonymous, Chad Farris and Laurell Hall, Harriet Simon, Imogene Beckemeyer, Jacquie and Fred Betz, Ken and Alisa Simpson, Ruth and Simeon Grater
Stepping Stone Level Donors
Adrienne Nakamura, Anonymous, Barbara Levine, Benton Public Library Staff, Bill Curtin, Christopher and Robin Cardwell-Mullins, Cindy Massie, Claire Hughes, Darby Ortolano, Deirdre Stokes, Diann Gordon, Dona Reese, Dr. Homer and Amber Hanson Trust, Greg Eversden, Jacqueline McFadden, Jason Naas, Jennifer Corletto, Jennifer Needham, Jessica Zieman, John Howard & Trisha Carter, Jordan Welz, Joyce Webb, Julia Moore, Julia Stallings, Katie Carl, Laura Boulukos, Lawrence Johnson, Mary Hughes, Mary O’Hara, Mary Taylor, Mel Hayes, Norka Rabinovich, Owen O’Malley and Laraine Wright, Robert Grimmer, Sandy and Chuck Litecky, Sandy Charlson, Sarah Prindle, Sarah Richards, Scott Rogers, Susannah Munson, Tony Hayden, Wayne Larsen