Japanese Garden at Zilker Botanical Garden


I recently posted about the prehistoric garden at Zilker, but an older and equally beautiful part of the botanical garden is the Taniguchi Japanese Garden. It’s an intimate, contemplative, green place overlooking downtown Austin.


The garden was a gift to the city by 70-year-old Isamu Taniguchi in 1969. As Zilker Garden’s website explains, Mr. Taniguchi created the garden “without a salary or a contract…[He] spent 18 months transforming 3 acres of rugged caliche hillside into a peaceful garden.”


Traditional elements like this moon bridge are given a Texas twist: rustic cedar poles make up the bridge planking and rails.


Crossing over the stream you must duck under the boughs of an old pittosporum, which creates a cool, dark tunnel of leaves.


Water spills out of a bamboo spout into a limestone basin before joining the flowing stream.


Climbing up a rugged, twisting stair, you gain an overlook of one of the ponds…


…before passing under an ancient, writhing pittosporum perched at the edge of the hillside. The stream rushes under its branches and drops over a waterfall into the pool below. It’s a magical spot, sheltered, alive with the chatter of water…


…and fragrant during this visit with creamy, bee-attracting blossoms.


Meandering down the limestone path one comes to a teahouse with a view of downtown.


This Japanese maple blushes with striking color even in spring.


Farther along this beautiful oak stands on a knoll that overlooks a koi pond just beyond. I see that a new, straight-trunked tree stands nearby, ready to replace the old tree when it goes? I hope it won’t be soon. I love that old tree.


At the end of the Japanese garden, as you head to the rose garden, a new Japanese gate has been built—very nice.


The garden’s shady, green paths are soothing and peaceful at any time of year. If you have children, they’ll love exploring the twisting paths, moon bridge, and stepping stones across the pond. It’s a delightful garden to visit at any age.

For a previous visit and more about Austin’s sister city in Japan, check out my earlier post about the Japanese Garden.

All material © 2006-2011 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

8 Responses

  1. Carol says:

    Seeing those pictures reminds me of my visit to Austin in 2007 and going to Zilker Park with Annie in Austin and MSS/Zanthan Gardens. It is a beautiful spot. (And has it really been almost four years since that first garden bloggers’ fling in Austin?)

    Time flies, it’s true, but the first Garden Bloggers Fling was in April 2008. It was wonderful to meet you then in Austin, Carol. Fun times! —Pam

  2. Phillip says:

    This is beautiful. I love that arched bridge.

    The moon bridge is one of my favorite features of the garden, Phillip. —Pam

  3. Carol says:

    Oops, I meant 2008, when I visited. Guess it has been just three years.

    Yep! But how the garden blogging world has changed since then, don’t you agree? —Pam

  4. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    What a wonderful twist on the Japanese garden with those elements used from the area. Sometimes they look out of place when they use only plants that are Japanese. This has a real Texas feel. I love those big ole trees too.

    Yes, I agree. It’s nice to see appropriate Texas plants used in an Asian garden style. —Pam

  5. Chookie says:

    That’s glorious! Interesting to see the Aussie pittosporum sneaking in. They are lovely trees when aged, but a bit weedy here.

    I didn’t realize that was an Australian plant, Chookie. I’m off to learn about it online. —Pam

  6. Candy Suter says:

    What an incredibly beautiful place this is. Thank you so much for sharing your amazing photos with us. You have a great eye. Maybe someday I will get there but until then I can enjoy them through your photos. Hey I just posted a tutorial on how to make a succulent strawberry pot. Tell me what you think please.

    Thanks for a taking a virtual tour with me, Candy. —Pam

  7. So pretty! I love Japanese gardens – even through your photos I can sense the silence and the peacefulness of the garden. And what a pretty color on those Japanese maple leaves!

    Aren’t they? I wonder if they stay that color all year. —Pam

  8. […] dinosaur gardens to Japanese gardens to the surprise of azaleas in Austin, Zilker Botanical Garden has something for everyone. And yes, […]

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