By Judy Hohmann, contributor
The first-ever Chinese Garden in Minnesota opened officially to great international fanfare and a watery welcome on Sept. 18, at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen.
Amidst mild rain showers, the “Garden of Harmonious Beauty” showcased a blend of Chinese cultural elements of architecture, rocks, water and plants — integrating artistry with nature. The new Chinese Garden celebrated the completion of Phase 2 design and construction with global partners, donors and supporters from the Arboretum and Chinese-American community. Guests previewed a customized pond and garden path, gated viewing platform, moon gate entry, peony pavilion, peony and plants garden, and trio of Qinling Mountain rocks from Shaanxi Provincial Government in central China.
Dignitaries included University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler, who spoke of the long-standing sister state relationship between Shannxi Province and the State of Minnesota. In fact, Kaler stated the 103-year relationship of China and the University of Minnesota — with the Pan brothers and friend from Shanghai, who made their way in 1914, from the land of terra cotta soldiers to the land of 10,000 lakes — to study engineering and mining technology at the U. Currently, there are more than 5,000 alumni living in China, and, over the years, more than 8,000 students from China have earned University of Minnesota degrees. Right now, nearly 3,000 Chinese students are on campus.
Shi Chengjun, deputy director general of the Shaanxi Provincial People’s Government spoke on behalf of the Shaanxi Friendship Delegation; and Liu Jun, Deputy Consul General of the Chinese Consulate in Chicago, Ill., also shared remarks about the continuing garden partnership with the Arboretum garden and University.
From the Chinese-American community, Hoyt Hsiao provided a donor’s perspective on behalf of his family’s lead donor role for the Chinese garden path, named for his parents, Fred and Jennie Hsiao. Kaimay Yuen Terry, who with her husband Dr Joseph Terry, funded the moon gate, recognized the Chinese American Association of Minnesota and the many community supporters of the Chinese Garden. Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Foundation President Todd Wagner then invited the event guests to join in a toast and ribbon cutting, and to explore the new garden.
Closing the program was a performance by the Shaanxi Provincial Folk Orchestra playing traditional Chinese musical instruments. A “family photo” of the extremely talented musicians, dignitaries and community supporters was taken at the conclusion, representing the community brought together by the new Chinese Garden. The Chinese Garden opened to all Arboretum members and visitors in late September.