Extracted and summarised from cowdengarden.com Image linked from cowdengarden.com.
Teenagers broke into the garden and burnt the teahouses, bridges and knocked the lanterns and shrines into the water during a night of mayhem. They were witnessed fleeing. This act of vandalism destroyed the work of Isabella ‘Ella’ Christie of Cowden (1861 –1949).
She had created Shãh-Rak-Uen, ‘the place of pleasure and delight’ in two months with the help of Taki Handa. Between 1908 – 1925 Professor Suzuki, 18th Hereditary Head of the Soami School of Imperial Garden Design, came regularly to prune the many imported shrubs and trees. In 1925 Shinzaburo Matsuo, who had lost his family in an earth quake, came to Scotland and worked in the garden until he died in 1937; he is buried in Muckhart churchyard.
The garden was handed over to Miss Christie’s great, great niece (Robert’s daughter), Sara Stewart.
Taki Handa’s granddaughter visited the garden.
Two new bridges commissioned by Robert Stewart.
The pond was dredged in order to clear the weeds and ﬁnd
the missing pieces from the lanterns. Inclusion in the Historic Environment Scotland Inventory of Designed Landscapes.
Professor Masao Fukuhara, from Osaka University of Arts, Japan, was appointed to restore the garden.
Start of restoration.
Formation of the charity The Japanese Garden at Cowden Castle, Charity No: SC045060.
2018 On the 6th July 2018 the Garden was reopened to the public. On 10th August 2018 Susan and I visited the garden after reading about it on Facebook. It was a spur of the moment decision. Getting there was not so easy, in fact it was to put it mildly “Bl**dy frustrating”. We finally found the turn and headed up a steep one track, very few passing places, to what looked like the semi demolished entrance to a contractors site. Following the route we came to a newly set up parking area. A short walk took us to some porta cabins – Visitor Centre (shop and cafe), Toilets and at rear an outside seating area for cafe.
On paying (a reasonable) entrance fee you are stickered with a badge and may now freely roam the restored areas of the once proud gardens. As I said I felt very frustrated and in a mood after taking nearly 2 hours to find the gardens. However, being met with politeness and having consumed an excellent home baked cake and filled up with coffee I was somewhat mollified. We crossed the road from the porta cabins and took a left to enter the Gate to the Garden.
Once again, as I experienced in the Japanese Friendship Garden at (Lauriston Castle), a feeling of tranquillity slowly settled on me. The garden was living up to “the place of pleasure and delight”. Much needs to be done to fully restore this lost gem and the team are working hard to achieve the aim of fully restoring Shãh-Rak-Uen .