ROCKFORD – The quiet peace and beauty of Anderson Japanese Gardens is a definite draw for the winter weary.
Although the gardens officially open May 1, something special is in the works for April 20. The second Guest Chef Dinner, a four-course meal, will be prepared this year by Al Castrogiovanni of Alchemy and Giovanni’s.
The courses will be accompanied by a cocktail developed by Grant Hurless, a master mixologist from Death’s Door Spirits of Middleton, Wis. There is nothing sinister about Death’s Door Spirits. Its name, however, comes from a notorious strait known for shipwrecks that stretches between the Door County peninsula and Washington Island, Wis.
Guests at the dinner will not have to worry about that. The meal will be served family-style, and diners must be at least 21 years old. Reservations are due by Tuesday.
When the gardens open, visitors will not encounter a spot designed for loud, boisterous exploration. The mood here is one of reflection. Benches can be found along the walkways for rest or to just to sit and take in the beautiful work of nature, and gardeners, all around.
The tranquil mood does not preclude visitors from talking, laughing, or enjoying the gardens. Visitors come with a need to share the sights – was that a turtle? a color fish? a sweet-scented flower? and look at that teahouse. Every turn in the path offers something different.
In all, the gardens have 12 acres. Within that area are streams, paths, gardens of raked gravel, waterfalls, architectural wonders, cooling shade, and glorious sunshine.
A variety of plants add to the visit. Guests will see pines, magnolias, Japanese maples, and rhododendrons to name a few.
The bridges, the sculptures, the koi, need to be experienced personally; meaning a visit here is never wasted.
Those who are interested in taking home a souvenir of their visit will find the gift shop stocked with choices.
A special note for smokers: This is a smoke-free environment, and that restriction also stretches into the parking lot. Do not let that prevent a visit.
Those wanting a special treat should plan a visit on the third Thursday of each month. Garden admission is free; donations are accepted.