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Fort Worth Japanese Garden

Fort Worth Japanese Garden

When we visited Dallas Fort Worth a few months ago, it was only for a short stay. At the time, I wanted to visit a botanic garden and had to make a choice between the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden or the Fort Worth Botanic Garden. After analyzing pictures, I decided that Dallas was the place. If you’re interested in visiting, take a look at that story. 

We returned to the Dallas Fort Worth area again this past weekend and I got my chance to see the Fort Worth Botanic Garden. There is no entrance fee to visit the garden, which surprised me. Although not as elaborate as the Dallas garden, it must still be expensive to operate. As it happened, it wasn’t so much the botanic garden that was drawing me in as the Japanese Garden, which lies in the southwestern corner of the park. The Japanese Garden charges $7 per person, and it is absolutely worth it. 

Entrance gate to the Japanese Garden

Entrance gate to the Japanese Garden

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I don’t think I’ve ever visited a Japanese Garden I haven’t enjoyed. I normally think of them as cozy compact spaces. You usually find yourself walking along narrow pathways and through small inviting nooks. I always like that. The Fort Worth Japanese Garden is a little different. There are wider pathways and much more expansive views. It’s neither better nor worse than what I’m used to, just enjoyably different. 

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I don’t think we could have picked a better time to visit. For those of you searching for a place in Texas with bright fall colors, this is the place. We drove from Houston to see it and it was well worth it. 

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In mid November and into December, the trees put on their end of year extravaganza. Colorful leaves float on the bright reflections of the trees above and if you’re very lucky, you might come across a heron, as we did. I kept a respectful distance, as it wandered down the path ahead of us, my camera offering a beep, snap, beep, snap accompaniment to its long legged walk. After accepting my annoying presence for a full 15 minutes, it finally turned to me and gave me a long stare. I had just been told off, so I let it wander away to enjoy some privacy.

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Apart from the bright autumn colors and the elegant heron, my favorite feature of the park is an elevated area—referred to in the park as The Pavillion—that overlooks the central pond. Here you’ll find several Japanese style open air structures whose architectural simplicity melds beautifully with the surrounding landscape. 

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The ponds are filled with koi: 1,200 of them. I don’t think I’ve ever seen koi so large! If you’re interested, you can buy koi food at the entrance, giving you the chance to enjoy seeing them swim up to you and open their mouths in anticipation. 

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In addition to the decorative stone lanterns you always find in Japanese gardens, there are some large sculptures made all the more impressive by their staging. There’s a small stream flowing from an upper pond to a lower one, there’s a large waterfall, and there’s the moon bridge. The bridge happened to be closed during our visit due to structural concerns but that didn’t lessen its visual impact across the water. 

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Regrettably, we didn’t have as much time to enjoy the garden as I might have liked. We spent about an hour seeing it, but could easily have spent more. Still, I’m satisfied that we saw the highlights. 

After exiting the Japanese garden, we walked through the newly completed rose garden. The Fort Worth Botanic Garden is not as color intense as the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. The Dallas garden can be equated with visiting the zoo. You walk from one exciting exhibit to the next, having to stop in order to properly see everything. The Fort Worth garden is more like a quiet walk in the woods. Each is equally enjoyable. Which you choose simply depends on your mood.

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