Cranbrook Japanese Garden: A Day of Exploration

Saturday, October 6th 1:00pm - 5:00pm
Cranbrook House
380 Lone Pine Road
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304
  • Tours of the Japanese Garden featuring the Lily Pond Cascade at 1:30pm, 2:15pm, 3:00pm, and 3:45pm
  • Bonsai Displays and Demonstrations in Cranbrook House
  • Ikebana Displays in Cranbrook House
  • Pruning Demonstrations in the Japanese Garden from 2:00pm to 4:00pm
  • Conversations with the Experts

Free and Open to the Public

Presented by the Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research with the assistance of the Consulate General of Japan in Detroit

Special Guests and Partners include:

  • Jack Sustic, Former Curator, National Bonsai & Penjing Museum, Washington, D.C.
  • Cheryl Linck of the Ikebana International Chapter 85
  • Japan Federation of Landscape Contractors 
  • Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Tokyo, Japan

Created in 1915 by Cranbrook founder George Booth and his father Henry Wood Booth, Cranbrook’s Japanese-style garden is among the oldest in North America. Although the garden today remains a place of beauty and inspiration, it is in need of rejuvenation. The work starts now!

With the support of the Consulate General of Japan in Detroit, the Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research has received a grant from the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism that will bring a team of gardeners to Cranbrook from the Japan Federation of Landscape Contractors. Over the course of six days at the beginning of October, six gardeners will help to transform one corner of the garden, the Lily Pond Cascade, into what will once again be a place of beauty and contemplation. The work on the Lily Pond Cascade is part of a master plan for the entire Cranbrook Japanese Garden that is being designed by Sadafumi Uchiyama, Garden Curator of the Portland Japanese Garden in Oregon.

The work on the Lily Pond Cascade in the Cranbrook Japanese Garden will be celebrated with a public event on the afternoon of Saturday, October 6. Visitors will have a chance to join tours of the Japanese Garden, led by members of the Center staff, that will not only discuss the garden’s history and future, but also offer an opportunity to meet and speak with the gardeners from Japan as they move rocks, plant trees, and begin to reopen the cascades. Tours will depart on a regular basis from the Reception Hall of Cranbrook House.

For this one day only, Cranbrook House—the historic home of Cranbrook’s founders George and Ellen Booth—will be transformed with bonsai. Throughout the house, visitors will delight in bonsai set among the Booth family treasures.

Originating from the ancient art of “penjing” in China, bonsai was introduced to Japan around the sixth century. In Japan it came to be known as “bonsai,” which literally means “a planting in a tray.” At its most elementary level, the art is simply growing a miniature wild tree inside a small container.

On the Cranbrook House North Porch, overlooking Kingswood Lake, visitors will be able to meet with one of the nation’s foremost bonsai experts, Jack Sustic. The former curator of the bonsai collection of the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum on the grounds of the United States National Arboretum in Washington, D.C., Sustic will be demonstrating this ancient art on trees from his personal collection—his children.

“It’s a humble art,” Sustic has explained. “When you work on bonsai, we’re working on their schedule, not ours. I have to make my schedule based on the time of year, and when it’s best to do certain tasks on certain trees. Often people say bonsai are like children, and they really are,” he continued. “You care for them, you’re concerned for them, you worry about them. If they look healthy and beautiful you are proud and want to show them off.”

Visitors will have a chance to ask Jack Sustic questions or simply observe his humble art.

Cranbrook Japanese Garden: A Day of Exploration will start at Cranbrook House, which is located at 380 Lone Pine Road, in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Free parking is available in the Cranbrook House parking lot. Registration will take place in the Reception Hall, where tours of the Japanese Garden also will depart. Visitors joining a Japanese Garden tour should wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to walk through woods and on gravel paths. This special event will take place rain or shine.

For more information, please contact the Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research at 248.645.3307 (Tuesday through Friday, 9:00am to 5:00pm).

Cranbrook Japanese Garden, photography by Thomas Booth, October 2016.
Blue-ribbon bonsai from the Four Seasons Bonsai Club of Michigan, 2017.
Jack Sustick examining a bonsai, courtesy of the National Bonsai Foundation, April 2015.

Registration for this event has closed.