GESCA Most Inspirational Project

Japanese Garden

November Highlights

Thank You (excerpt from Newsletter)
Our initial goal was to make Tsuru Island a better place because we appreciated the original intent of the first builders. Our objective being to simply clean it up. The depth of our goals changed with the possibilities of what could be achieved. With the realization that others would be willing to help, thus allowing more to be completed in a shorter time coupled with momentum, energy and those involved enjoying what was happening. “Who would ever have thought?” is something that Tomiko and I say to each other all of the time.
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Tsuru Island Master Plan

Design Process

With previous efforts to provide information about the garden we have told the story of the cleaning up of the area and the efforts to promote certain improvements, with many of them being completed or put into some stage of development. How we get to the desired result is detailed because there are two sides to the process of achieving a desired result in Tsuru Island. One is the design process that is more than a landscape design function. The design process relates to the Japanese culture and yet must have privacy but openness, and provide a presentation that is an extension of nature and the area around the island. The second process is the construction of the garden. Although the garden is not a traditional Japanese garden, we wish to present a Sukiya-style garden making it feel special and separate from the outside world. The foundation of the garden is stone and boulders with a stream bed running through. This type of garden construction began with some degree of the unknown. Areas need to look natural and balanced achieved by manipulating boulders, shaping berms and placing plant materials so it looked balanced. Every item and material used is natural and irregular and each with its own characteristic. Download the Master Plan.

The Stream

The stream is an important part of the garden that allows the division of certain sections of the garden “rooms” providing a calming effect even though water may not be present all of the time. The first component is the beginning of the feature, which includes the small pool area and has a minimal depth of 8-inches. The next component includes the stream bed that continues from the beginning and meanders through the garden, picking up some slope to allow the movement of the water when present and with enough volume. The stream bed works its way to the area in front of the specimen maple and ends as a small pond area planted with water iris. This minimal amount of water depth eliminates the need for cleaning and people and animals from using the feature in undesirable ways that could otherwise increase maintenance and supervision. Irrigation & Drainage The irrigation is designed as a high-end drip irrigation system capable of far more coverage and volume that the garden requires at this time. A drainage system collects standing water and prevents it from moving to the edges and running down to the creek. Several spots on the island show history that this has been happening for decades. The materials that have been incorporated into the system are called wick drain or site drain and is designed to allow for the water to be taken into the outer skin of the product and even out in the trench allowing the water to flow to a low point or to be absorbed into the porous area under the top grade. This drain product along with the process provided for in an erosion grant. Additional grading work that was included in the installation process, allows the flow of water to the outer edges of the island to be eliminated, and captured in the stream bed and functions as a rain garden would. Tsuru Island Bridge The new bridge will be constructed in the same design, but we will do so making upgrades to include current standards and codes. Considering that one of our intents of the garden and bridge redesigns has always been to do so with the most longevity and least amount of maintenance in mind, we have decided to construct the bridge using a hardwood known as Purple Heart. This wood comes from Brazil and is commonly used for docks and bridges, for the up fit of crabbing and fishing boats while it is considered one of the hardest woods available. We are intending for this bridge to be near maintenance free and lasting 200 years and beyond. The wood for the bridge is being machined over the next few months and the assembly will take place during June and July of this year.

The AzumayaIMG_4090_sm

Another construction project includes the pavilion that will be machined and assembled along the northerly side of the island and will offer conditions for tea ceremonies and quiet sitting out of the rain or sun, it will be adjacent to our cleansing area which is found in traditional tea gardens in Japan. The wood for the pavilion was coordinated and donated through the efforts of Dino Rocha and Carl Diebold Lumber Company/Patrick Lumber Company. Through other donations we have been able to purchase the machining plans and program which would allow us the ability to enlist a local high school wood shops to machine the wood on a school owned CNC machine. This is in process.


The Re-building of the Bridge The re-building of the bridge, which is the focal point of Tsuru Island, has been in the Master Plan since 2011— the same time as the planning for the rejuvenation of the Japanese Garden. Between 2011 and 2015, Jim Card, retired professional landscaper and jack-of-all-traits extraordinaire researched the best building material for longevity and proper construction to stay true to the original construction and Japanese culture. In 2014, Jim Card purchased purple heart wood with 75% of the materials funded by the City of Gresham, the planning and construction of the bridge was to begin. The original intent was to solicit a local high school wood shop to construct the bridge, but after many attempt by Jim to find the correct skill sets within the high school setting became unobtainable, Jim reached out to local businesses. With the magnitude of the project, not only space was needed, but the proper equipment was as well. Doug Mullins at Quality Woodworking provided materials space and equipment to allow the project to move forward. Jim Card and numerous volunteers sawed, machined, and glued all the pieces to construct the bridge—in Jim’s home workshop. This endeavor took roughly six months to complete. By June of 2015, demolishing of the old bridge was ready to happen. Once again, volunteers made this happen under the meticulous direction of Jim Card. In July of 2o15 the bridge was completed with the finishing touches of a finial to each post called a Gaboshi— a standard for bridges in Japan. To read the entire bridge construction journal written by Jim Card, download here. It’s a wonderful read.

Inspirational Video of Tsuru Island

Contact the Garden

We plan to have activities at the Resource Center (shoebox), which has been undergoing remodeling during the grand opening which will include seminars and presentations on special subjects such as nature and projects that the Special Needs Student Program affords us to provide to students, these would include some of the skills they have learned and accomplishments that they have made while maintaining and working at the garden.

If you are interested in being a part of Tsuru Island and would like us to keep you up-to-date on workshops, volunteer opportunities, or have a question, please fill out the form below.

Which topic best describes your question?*

Japanese Garden Address
219 S. Main Ave.,
Gresham, Oregon 97030




The Gresham Ebetsu Sister City Association is a proud member of North American Japanese Garden Association promoting the welfare of gardens and the people who love and care for them through education and advocacy.

FBNorth American Japanese Garden Association Facebook page.