HUNDREDS of people had the chance to take a sneak-peak into the historic Japanese Garden at Cowden Castle.
The garden, considered “the most important Japanese garden in the western world” by a 20th century Japanese professor, is now undergoing restoration.

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Reaching the milestone was celebrated by around 300 people at the first-ever public viewing on Saturday, September 3.
The evening garden party gave chair of the charitable trust, Sara Stewart, the chance to raise some much-needed funds for the ongoing project, which still needs £500,000.
Thanks to the generous donations of those attending, around £6,500 was raised, helping Sara to employ a gardener sooner than expected.

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She told the Advertiser: “The party was a chance for those who are enthusiastic about the garden to have a chance to see it at our mid-way point of the restoration.”
“The landscaping is pretty much finished. Future funds will go towards the education pavilion, bridges, summer house and island tea house.”
With the seven-acre garden complete, sans a few structures, those attending had the chance to walk around the whole area before enjoying a party in the tent as rain started pouring.

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The garden was originally created by Sara’s great-great aunt Ella Christie, a keen explorer and the first western woman to visit Samarkand and Khiva in Uzbekistan, in 1910. It was distinguished from the start by the involvement of Japanese practitioners including designer Taki Handa, who was the only woman to have designed a Japanese garden of this nature.
Her work was overseen by Professor Jijo Suzuki, the 18th hereditary head of the Soami School of Imperial Garden Design in Japan, who considered it the “most the western world”.

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Unfortunately, an act of vandalism tore the garden apart in 1963; when the tea houses, bridges and lanterns were ruined beyond repair. The garden then became overgrown.
Once all the funds have been raised and the structures are complete, the garden will be open daily between April and October. Sara hopes to finish the restoration by spring 2018, adding: “unless a generous benefactor comes along in which case we’ll open sooner”.

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Sara also wanted to say thanks to the restoration team from Japan who visit twice a year and to Clacks man David McCulloch who helped with the ground works and without whom the Japanese team could not have been able to complete the job as fast as they did.
Since the beginning of the project, The Japanese Garden at Cowden Castle operates as a charity. To donate to the project, visit or