DC collaborates with Parkwood Estate to recreate iconic George Tanaka gardens

In celebration of the ongoing partnership between Durham College (DC) and Parkwood National Historic Site (Parkwood), students from the college’s Horticulture Technician program have recreated Parkwood’s iconic Japanese garden. Designed by Canadian landscape architect George Tanaka in 1963, the recreation made its debut at the Landscape Ontario Congress trade show, which took place in Toronto from January 9 to 11.

DC has presented garden concepts before but given the college’s relationship with Parkwood, working together to develop and deliver educational curricula, and the fact Parkwood is celebrating its 100th anniversary, it was decided the college would recreate the Tanaka design.

Commissioned by Sam McLaughlin, to convert the estate’s existing greenhouses, Tanaka was well known for combining his Japanese heritage with elements native to the Canadian landscape. Designed to be “simple and unassertive”, his Japanese garden is a staple at the historical site, occupying one of five greenhouse spaces.

McLaughlin was in his 90’s when the Japanese Garden greenhouse was designed and it became a contemplative retreat for him, mere steps from the house. He was often found wandering and enjoying the space.

Using original elements retrieved from the garden, which will be restored back to its original exterior this spring, and working in tandem with the heritage docents at Parkwood, the students put together their interpretation of Tanaka’s vision.

Following a two-day installation at Congress, more than 13,000 visitors to the trade show were able to take in the students hard work, while enjoying a piece of local Oshawa history.