Lakeside Park 

Pruning Workshop and Garden Tour

Oakland, California

July 20-22, 2017

NAJGA will be holding a lecture series, pruning workshop and garden tour on Thursday evening, Friday and Saturday, July 20-22, 2017 at Lakeside Park. Lakeside Park is located in the heart of Oakland, California and is a seven-acre collection of themed gardens surrounding Lake Merritt, including a Japanese garden, the adjacent Golden State Bonsai Federation's Bonsai Garden (which houses an extensive collection of over 200 of the finest specimens on the west coast), and the Fukuaka sister city garden.

On Thursday evening, starting at 7:00 PM, Steven Pitsenbargen will speak on the fascinating history of the Japanese tea garden at Golden Gate Park, where he is the long-time gardener.  Next, writer Leslie Buck will be signing copies of her recently released book, Cutting Back:  My Apprenticeship in the Gardens of Kyoto.  Finally, Dr. Kendall Brown, noted author of numerous books on Japanese gardens, will discuss the history of Bay area Japanese gardens.  His most recent book, Visionary Landscapes:  Japanese Garden Design in North America, The Work of Five Contemporary Masters will be published in October of this year.  

Friday's pruning workshop is being held in conjunction with the Oakland-based Aesthetic Pruners Association (APA) and will consist of small group on-site pruning demonstrations throughout the Japanese garden at Lakeside Park, and will start at 8:30 AM.  Workshop leaders, Toshikazu Eto, Yuki Nara, and Avram Dalton, will impart a nature-based method of pruning. The APA started at Merritt College in the mid-1980s under the guidance of teacher Dennis Makishima and now includes over fifty certified pruners who strive to bring the essence of nature to the garden.

Saturday's tour includes:  the historic Welch-Bruce garden where noted landscape architect Ron Herman will explain his current renovation; the venerable Bowie-de Sabla garden where Joan Paladini will talk about the challenges of owning a historic garden; the post-war Yonezawa garden where Dennis Makishima will discuss pruning strategies; and the San Mateo Central Park Garden, where historian Ken Brown will analyze the style of famed garden builder Nagao Sakurai.  One or two other gardens will also be featured.  The tour will start at 8:30 AM and finish at approximately 4:30 PM.  Transportation will be provided to and from the Executive Inn and Suites.  Saturday's garden tour is sold out, but spaces are still available for the lecture series and pruning workshop!

Registration is open now and is limited to 45 people.  More details to be posted as they become available.


Toshikazu Eto

Toshi is a third generation Japanese garden builder from Northern Kyushu, Japan. Mr. Eto’s company, Eto Suirakuen, builds all types of traditional gardens including tea gardens, stroll gardens, koi ponds and dry gardens (karesansui). Mr. Eto has worked for his father for most of his career but, as is Japanese tradition, studied under a different garden master for his apprenticeship. In that way Mr. Eto has had the good fortune to study garden techniques from both sides of Japan. Mr. Eto has also had extensive training in the tea ceremony and flower arrangement, which he uses to inform his pruning style.

Yuki Nara

     Born and raised in Japan, Yuki has been a pruner and teacher of aesthetic pruning for almost two decades. Along with her ongoing pruning practice, she has lectured on the subject at numerous symposiums and seminars in the US and Japan. She is a member of the Aesthetic Pruning Association, the Merritt College Aesthetic Pruning Club and the North America Japanese Garden Association.

     Yuki's work is highly intuitive. She specializes in pruning Japanese maples; her pruning style reveals the grace and beauty of the trees. She believes that the integration of philosophy and technique, and a heartfelt connection to the trees is essential to the successful practice of Aesthetic Pruning and ultimate satisfaction of client, pruner, and tree. Website:

Avram David Dalton

Avram is a garden builder from Southern California. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Japanese Studies from the University of California San Diego.  After living in Tsukuba Japan as an exchange student, Avram worked for a Landscape Construction Firm in the Tokai region of Japan.  Since returning to the United States he served as Head Gardener of the San Diego Japanese Friendship Garden until starting his own construction company in 2013. His specialties are woven fences and stone wall construction.

Steven Pitsenbarger

     Steven has worked as a gardener at the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park since 2007. He completed the Environmental Horticulture program at City College of San Francisco in 2008. That same year he won the Alice Eastwood Scholarship Environmental Horticulture Award and the Nancy McNear Memorial Award in Horticulture, and traveled to Japan where he visited more than 30 gardens in Kyoto and Tokyo. One surprise from that visit was the profound impact of the karesansui or "dry landscape gardens". Zuiho-in within the Daitokuji complex was a favorite because of the vibrant energy contained in that living work of art.

     In 2013 he won the William Hammond Hall award for excellence in horticulture from the San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department. 2015 he was certified as a Bay Friendly Landscaper.  

     Steven will be speaking on Thursday night at 7:00 PM about the fascinating history of the Japanese Tea Garden in Gold Gate.

Ron Herman

Landscape architect Ron Herman is responsible for designing many of North American's largest and most intricate private gardens. He has created more than four hundred full-scale garden designs in his thirty-five plus year career in landscape architecture.  At UC Berkeley Herman studied under Garret Eckbo and Lawrence Halprin, founders of the "California Style" of landscape design.  He did his graduate studies at the University of Kyoto.  His work has been featured prominently in the national media, including The New York Times, House and Garden, and Architectural Digest.  

Dr. Kendall H. Brown

Ken Brown is Professor of Asian Art History at California State University Long Beach. He received BA and MA degrees in history and art history from the University of California, Berkeley and a Ph.D. in art history from Yale University.  His books on Japanese gardens in North America include Japanese-style Gardens of the Pacific West Coast (1998), Quiet Beauty: The Japanese Gardens of North America (2013) and Visionary Landscapes: Japanese Garden Design in North America, The Work of Five Contemporary Masters (October, 2017). Ken served as President of the Board of the North American Japanese Garden Association from 2012-14.   He is also an art historian and has published and curated widely of Japanese art.

Dr. Brown will be discussing his latest book and signing copies on Thursday night at around 8:20 PM.

Click here to read reviews of Brown's books

Leslie Buck

Leslie Buck is the author of the new Japanese Garden Memoir, Cutting Back:  My Apprenticeship in the Gardens of Kyoto.  She specializes in pruning and natural design in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has over two decades of gardening experience, and a fine art degree from U.C. Berkeley and the Bordeaux School of Fine Arts in France.  Leslie has worked, taught, and volunteered in hundreds of private landscapes, as well as dozens of public gardens including the Portland Japanese Garden, Hakone Japanese Garden, Tassajara Zen Center, and Merritt College.  

 Leslie will be speaking about her apprenticeship in Kyoto and signing copies of her book on Thursday night, at around 7:40 PM.


Click here to read reviews of Cutting Back

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Saturday's Walking Tour

Historic Bay Area Gardens

The Welch-Bruce Garden was designed in 1908 by John McLaren (designer of San Francisco's Golden Gate Park) for Andrew Welch, heir to the American Sugar Refinery Company and director of Matson Steamship Navigation and Honolulu Oil Company.  In 1932 it was enlarged by Masasaburo Asai, who added a second pond and waterfall. Current renovations are being overseen by Ron Herman, who will be on hand to guide tour participants through his vision for the redesign.   Ron Herman is responsible for designing many of North America's largest and most intricate private gardens. He has created more than four hundred full-scale garden designs in his thirty-five plus year career in landscape architecture. 

The Bowie-de Sabla Garden in San Mateo was built for Henry P. Bowie in 1902 at his estate Severn Lodge by Makoto Hagiwara, the designer of the Japanese Tea Garden at Golden Gate Park.  It was originally named Higurashi-en, or "A garden worthy of a day's contemplation". Bowie was a lawyer, artist, diplomat and noted Japanologist who co-founded the Japan Society of Northern California and wrote the book On the Laws of Japanese Painting. The property was featured in the July 1914 issue of The House Beautiful, and more recently on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Highlights include a silvery-green, five-needled Mikado pine given to Bowie by Emperor Meiji, and a triple lace leaf Japanese maple and other artifacts from the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. The property was purchased in 1988 and has been restored to its original pristine condition.

The Yonezawa Garden is an intimate and serene entry garden designed and built by Kay Tanouye in 1968.  The garden features many fine structural details that meld seamlessly with the natural aspects.  Along each side of the house are narrow view gardens which offer framed views from the interior of the house.  A creek and woodland are viewed from the back deck.  Care of the garden over the years has been overseen by Aesthetic Pruning Association founder Dennis Makishima.

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