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Caroline Kennedy, Japanese ambassador plant cherry tree at Brooklyn Botanic Garden to celebrate Japanese garden’s 100th anniversary

March 30, 2016 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden continued to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Hill-and-Pond Garden with a tree-planting ceremony on Tuesday. Pictured from left: Councilmember Laurie Cumbo, Scot Medbury, Reiichiro Takahashi, Caroline Kennedy and Diane Steinberg. Eagle photos by Rob Abruzzese
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It was cold and windy, but that didn’t stop the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) from continuing to honor the 100th anniversary of its historic Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden when it had Caroline Kennedy and the Japanese ambassador plant a tree at the site early Tuesday morning.

“Congratulations to Brooklyn Botanic Garden on a century of inspiration and beauty,” said Kennedy, who is the ambassador of the U.S. to Japan. “For 100 years, the BBG has introduced New Yorkers to the beauty of Japanese gardens.”

Kennedy and Reiichiro Takahashi, the ambassador and consul general of Japan in New York, were joined by Scot Medbury, president of the BBG; Diane Steinberg, BBG board vice-chair; and Councilmember Laurie Cumbo to plant a Prunus tree, or snow goose, within the iconic garden.

“The Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden captures the imagination of visitors, and inspires many to return again and again,” Steinberg said. “It opens us all to new experiences and to embracing the beauty and traditions of different cultures. This example of friendship and appreciation between cultures is as important today as it was 100 years ago.”

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Considered the masterpiece of its creator, landscape designer Takeo Shiota, the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden was the first Japanese garden created in an American public garden and is one of the oldest and most visited Japanese-inspired gardens outside of Japan.

BBG’s other important Japanese horticultural collections include the C.V. Starr Bonsai Museum, among the most important bonsai collections in the U.S.; the Ornamental Cherry Collection, one of the largest and most diverse in an American public garden; and the Tree Peony Collection, a gift from the Japanese town of Yatsuka-Cho in Shimane Prefecture in memory of Sept. 11.

“This is an historic moment for BBA, in which the garden will elevate and celebrate the vibrant relationship and enduring ties it has helped to cultivate between the United States and Japan,” Takahashi said.

“As we celebrate this historic milestone, we are deeply grateful that Ambassador Kennedy and Ambassador Takahashi have joined us as honorary co-chairs of the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden centennial,” Medbury said. “We are delighted that they both can be here to commemorate the centennial and this remarkable example of cultural exchange and friendship.”

The anniversary of the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden will continue to be celebrated throughout the spring, starting with the legendary Sakura Matsuri (cherry blossom) Festival on April 30 and the BBG’s Japanese Garden Centennial Gala on June 7. For more information on these and other events, visit


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