Maybe even zen, though it isn't a rock and sand garden. This garden was constructed as a collaboration between the city of Phoenix and its sister city, Himeji, Japan. It is also called Ro Ho En.
It features a very large koi pond with a zigzag bridge over it, with beautiful shocking pink water lilies in season, and a few ducks. It also has a tea house, and tea ceremonies are sometimes celebrated there. It has several small waterfalls, and one fairly tall one. The tall one is in shadow in the afternoon.
Throughout, the gardening style is totally Japanese, and the plants chosen survive well in the desert, but are still similar to the plants that would be seen in a Japanese garden in Japan.
They have many, many lovely views, and if you want to get the most out of it, it is important to linger and look and take in a well composed scene, and to walk slowly and wander. Only one bush was in flower when I was there. It is closed during the hot months of the year. That would be May through September. Admission is quite reasonable.
There is a gift shop and restrooms. They are proud of the fixtures in the restrooms, which were specially designed for the garden. They are sleek and pleasing. The buildings are also Japanese style.
I have been there several times, and it just keeps improving, as the plants grow bigger and they work on it. They shape some of the trees, but for the most part, you can't tell they're doing it. You can just see the excellent results.
There are rules for photographers. If you are a commercial photographer, they expect you to pay an extra fee. This would mostly cover wedding photography, and this is the perfect setting for it. The rules are a little hard to understand, but if you simply take photos of the garden itself and sell them on an art site or something, I don't think they would care. But use caution. I don't sell my photos from the garden; I just display them.
I will definitely want to return periodically and see how much more beautiful it has become. Obviously, this is not one of your very large city gardens, nor is it one in Japan, but it is still quite beautiful, and fully in character.
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