Beautiful Enhancements in Progress at Phipps Conservatory’s Japanese Courtyard Garden
Jun 04

Beautiful Enhancements in Progress at Phipps Conservatory’s Japanese Courtyard Garden

By Phipps Conservatory

In part of the continued celebration of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens' 125th anniversary, the popular Japanese Courtyard Garden has undergone a renovation process as the natural, tranquil beauty of the exhibit is enhanced with recomendations from the original designer, Hoichi Kurisu.

In December, Kurisu visited Phipps to meet with the horticulture team, observe how the garden has evolved since its installation and share ideas for the future.  Kurisu and his team worked closely with Phipps on renovation and maintenance plans, focusing on traditional Japanese pruning techniques and adding new plants to optimize the flow of energy within the courtyard. 

“Hoichi Kurisu was pleased with how the Japanese Courtyard Garden has matured and the bonsai have developed over time,” stated Phipps Director of Horticulture and Education Margie Radebaugh. “We are excited to continue to enhance one of the most serene, reflective spaces at Phipps.”

Designed in 1991, Phipps’ Japanese Courtyard Garden provides a distinct, rejuvenating experience for Phipps visitors. “The Kurisu team was honored to revisit the Japanese Courtyard Garden at Phipps Conservatory after nearly three decades since its original construction,” says Hoichi Kurisu, founder and president of Kurisu LLC. “We were excited for the opportunity to bring a refreshed energy to this special place, enhancing the experience of all those who visit. I think people will feel the difference.”

Kurisu calls this exhibit a “particularly innovative project” because it bridges the art forms of Japanese gardens and bonsai. “It’s rare to find a display of bonsai of this caliber within a Japanese garden. While the essence of the bonsai culture is to artfully emulate nature and allow you to view it from a broader perspective, the courtyard garden accomplishes this while simultaneously being immersed within it. This contrast creates a unique harmony between micro and macro perspectives.”

“I’m very grateful to be collaborating with Phipps Conservatory,” Kurisu says. “I believe their work in the Pittsburgh community, united with my dream to create restorative environments that enrich lives provides a beautiful platform for the wellbeing of this city and its people.”

Pruning was completed on Thurs., May 17 with additional phased enhancements planned throughout the summer. Keep up with the progress on Phipps’ blog and by following Phipps on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


I don’t think it’s my imagination, but it seems that the Japanese Garden and the bonsai area has/have been shrinking over the years.  I know everyone has different preferences, but the bonsai are amazing.  They should be a major attraction.

By Mary Lou Waugerman on Jun 13, 2018