Waterfront Botanical Gardens is building an authentic, world-class Japanese Garden, designed by Nakane and Associates out of Kyoto, Japan.


This two-acre garden will be constructed just north of the existing Graeser Family Education Center. Every dollar you give to support the Japanese Garden will be matched up to $500,000 by the family of longtime supporters Emil and Nancy Graeser.




Sponsor the Japanese Garden:

General Sponsorships

Bonsai Garden Sponsorships


about the designer


The son of renowned traditional Japanese landscape designer, Kinsaku Nakane, Shiro Nakane has been following in his father’s footsteps since becoming president of Nakane Garden Research and Landscape Consultant Firm in 1995.

Having received his first lessons in the Art of Japanese gardening as a young boy, he continues to apply traditional techniques and aesthetics with a modern perspective as a landscape designer.


“The apparent admiration and esteem enjoyed by the Japanese garden throughout the world is presumably attributable to the recognition of its universal artistic merits, which transcend all racial, religious, and cultural differences.”

Shiro Nakane


General Sponsorship Opportunities

Tea House – Chashitsu #10

The chashitsu is made of wood, and designed to harmonize with the surrounding garden.


Stream – Yarimizu #5, 6


The stream symbolizes eternal renewal and the flow of time.


Pond – Shinji-ike #7

The pond is fed by the waterfall and streams and will be stocked with koi.


Summer House – Yokaze #12

The stream will flow under the summer house so guests can sit in it with their feet in the stream


The South (Main) Gate #1

The main entrance to the garden. It will include the ticket booth.


Waterfall – Taki #4

A great source of beauty in Japanese gardens, waterfalls contribute to the expression of nature and the soundscape.


Arched Bridge – Soribashi #18

A distinct red-orange color, the arched bridge is probably the most representative feature of a Japanese garden.


Dry Landscape (Zen) Garden – Karesansui #13

Dry landscape gardens represent water surfaces and wave motions through sand patterns.


Autumn Grassland – Aki No Sogen #16
$50,000 SOLD

Grasses continue to flourish across multiple seasons, even after flowers are long gone, evoking a hint of sadness at the passing of the year.



Zig-Zag Bridge – Yatsuhashi #19
$100,000 SOLD

Zig-zag bridges encourage those who cross to slow down, watch their step, and take in the present.


Cherry Tree Promenade – Sakura #15
$100,000 SOLD

The Japanese Cherry Tree represents the fleeting nature of existence and the need to live in the present.


Tea Garden – Roji #11
$50,000 SOLD

Tea gardens call to mind a stroll through a forest path, a quiet place where everyday concerns are forgotten for a moment.


Island in the Pond/Lake (2) – Kojima #8
$50,000 each SOLD

Tsuru and Kame, the crane and the tortoise


Pebble Beach #9
$25,000  SOLD

Smooth dark stones represent the foam of an ocean, and provide a stark contrast to the surrounding greenery.


Stone Bridge (2) – Ishibashi #20
$25,000 each SOLD

When taking a meditative stroll through the garden, the bridge prompts us to shed worldly concerns and be fully present in the beautiful garden.


In Stream Stepping Stones #21
$25,000 SOLD

Natural stones will create a stepping stone pathway to connect the walkways in the garden. This stone pathway will be located on the east side of the garden, and will go directly over the stream.


Large Scale Pruned Shrubs – Okarikomi #24
$25,000 SOLD

Pruned shrubs are a signature look of Japanese gardens. Often representative of rolling hills, these elements add depth, structure and a sense of fullness to the garden. This practice dates back to the mid-16th century, but the style and aesthetic is, undoubtedly, much older.


Bamboo Grove #25
$25,000 SOLD

Seated adjacent to the tea house and the pond, the bamboo grove provides an area of interest in the Japanese Garden. Bamboo symbolize firmness, dignity, courage and elegance in Japanese culture.

Bonsai Garden

The Bonsai Garden has been designed to balance the traditional design of the adjacent Japanese Garden and the surrounding contemporary design of the Waterfront Botanical Gardens, weaving in design aspects from both spaces. The intent is to create a truly unique garden that celebrates the individuality of each bonsai while also creating an experience that is distinctive to the Waterfront Botanical Gardens. The space is divided into two areas, a winding path with small garden rooms for rest, reflection and contemplation about the artful bonsai, and a larger plaza that can be used for educational and social events as well as bonsai competitions. The garden also includes a Bonsai House for protecting the trees during winter, daily tree manicuring, and as a space for novices to learn from bonsai experts.



Bonsai Garden
$1,000,000 SOLD

Sponsored by the Graeser family, the 2-acre Bonsai Garden will house the WBG collection in all seasons, providing an opportunity for a unique experience with these unusual trees.


Bonsai Display Plaza

The Plaza features an open, paved gathering area with roughly a dozen of the larger bonsai trees and will be used for various events including bonsai competitions. It is located adjacent to the Bonsai House.


Bonsai House SOLD

Sponsored by Joe and Debbie Graviss, this 2,000 square foot building will be used for bonsai education classes and will serve as the venue for daily tree manicuring. This facility will protect the trees during the colder months.

Bonsai Garden Room #1

The largest of the four rooms, this area will provide a private space of reflection for immersive interaction with the bonsai.


Bonsai Garden Rooms #2, 3, & 4
$100,000 each

These natural rooms allow visitors to rest, reflect, and experience a more intimate encounter with the bonsai.

Concepts of the garden by Nakane and Associates

Concepts of the garden by Nakane and Associates

Concepts of the garden by Nakane and Associates

Concepts of the garden by Nakane and Associates



For more information on how you can sponsor or otherwise get involved with the Japanese Garden project, contact:


Brett Shepherd

Director of Capital Campaigns

(502) 494-0370



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