Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Leeds: Japanese Garden at Horsforth Hall Park

All images: Itsumo Japan
Until recently I was completely unaware that Hall Park in Horsforth, Leeds was home to a Japanese garden! Needless to say I was surprised and pleased to find out that Leeds was hiding a Japanese secret and I headed over there to have a look.

The Hall Park Japanese garden was originally opened in 1987 but after it fell into disrepair a £90,000 project was launched to bring it back to its former glory. After nine months of hard work the garden re-opened in 2009.

The garden, the only one of its kind in Leeds, contains many features to create a Japanese atmosphere. You enter the walled garden, at the top corner of the park, through a gateway complete with its name written in kanji and a Japanese-style roof. Inside you're met with lush greenery including bushy bamboo plants. The path takes you through the shrubbery and along a wooden structure decorated in yellow and a bright red that echoes the vermillion torii seen all over Japan. From here you can enjoy a view over the pond that fills the centre of the garden to a bright red bridge at the far end of the garden. Though the pond was home to a few lotus plants and showed signs that a few fish may be lurking below the water was unfortunately very muddy spoiling the view a little.

From here the path edges the pond passing an area set out to imitate the traditional karesansui rock garden, some pretty maple and pine trees and more leafy bamboo. The red bridge, a staple in all Japanese-style gardens it seems, crosses a small waterfall that feeds water into the pond. On the day that I visited sadly only a trickle of water was falling from the rocks but perhaps this was due to summer water-saving measures. Over the bridge there is another small karesansui-style garden.

Though the garden is nowhere near as impressive as it's grown-up cousin in London's Holland Park and lacks its authentic feel it is a pleasant place to spend time on a sunny afternoon. Throughout the garden there are many colourful and informative signs filled with information about the garden and the traditions of Japanese gardening. There are also two decorative 'windows' offering interesting views into and out of the garden through their Japanese-style motifs.

All in all I would recommend a trip to Hall Park's Japanese garden. It is a pleasant and unusual place to visit within Leeds and I look forward to going there again during the autumn and winter to see the changing colours of the foliage.

To get to Hall Park catch the no.33 bus from the city centre to The Fleece Hotel in Horsforth. The park is just a short walk from the bus stop.
View the park's location on a map.

For more of my pictures of the garden go to Flickr:
Itsumo Japan's Japanese Garden at Horsforth Hall Park, Leeds photoset Itsumo Japan's Japanese Garden at Horsforth Hall Park, Leeds photoset


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