Created: 1989
Designer: Petranek Brothers Landscaping
Days Open: Varies. See Hours & Location
Hours Open: Varies. See Hours & Location
Entry or Parking Fees: Adults-$7, Youth-age 6-15 or Military $5. Under age 6/free, Senior 65+ $6 from April 2 - October 31.
Garden Phone: +1 608.314.8416

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Excerpt from the website:  Located in Janesville, Wisconsin, Rotary Botanical Gardens is 20-acre, non-profit botanic showcase with over 24 different garden styles and 4,000 varieties of plants. The Japanese garden was one of the first gardens built at Rotary Botanical Gardens.

Garden Features:

Bridges – The Arched Bridge, one of the most photographed locations at the Gardens, was built with curved, laminated light poles from the former Janesville wastewater plant.  This bridge connects to the north path which leads to the Gazebo Garden.

According to centuries-old legend, the Zig-Zag Bridge (yatsuhashi 八橋) to the east, gives one the ability to elude evil spirits, that can only travel in straight lines.  Additional bridges help guide visitors throughout the Gardens and along the edges of the Dry Sea.

Dry Sea – The raked Dry Sea (karesansui  枯山水) symbolizes a sea punctuated by islands, which are represented by stones.  The sea is raked often to display “waves.” The pattern is occasionally modified.  Japan being a country filled with mountains, streams, lush greenery and wind-swept islands. These symbolic features help evoke the qualities of naturalness and tranquility.

Water – From ancient times, the Japanese people have had an affinity for the sea.  Water as a design element in the garden is crucial (but not essential).  Waterfalls and streams are used to create movement and sound which helps augment peace and tranquility.  The large waterfall, stream and lower pool were all reconstructed in 2011 to create a soothing sound heard throughout that garden.

This meandering stream runs the depth of the garden and two bridges offer access over this primary feature.  Note that the stream has variable depth and rock placement to affect the speed of water flow and thereby the sound varies as well.

Lanterns – In Japanese culture, Lanterns had long been used to light the paths to shrines and temples of ancient Shinto and Buddhist deities.  In the Japanese Garden, these lanterns lend a traditional “feel” and are positioned as focal points.  There are five different styles represented in this garden, as well as iron lanterns near the entrance structures.

Garden History:

Rotary Botanical Gardens’ (RBG) Japanese Garden was designed and built by Petranek Brothers Landscaping (Milton, WI) in 1989.  Originally positioned on the west edge of an old sand and gravel quarry, this garden was one of the first built when RBG was founded.  This contemplative setting is designed to offer a view to the adjacent pond and create an immersive experience.  Features include gates, fences, a dry gravel see, stones, a waterfall, stream and many Japanese lanterns and other elements.


Additional Resources:

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