Imagine walking through a moon gate that leads you under an arbor covered with fragrant blossoms on a warm summer day. To your right, you see people practicing Tai Chi under the weeping willows along a stream with an arched Chinese bridge….. ahead you see people sitting in a pavilion with upswept eaves overlooking a lake with the scent of peonies drifting in the air. This experience will soon become a reality at St. Paul’s Phalen Regional Park, the sight of the future St. Paul – Changsha Sister City China Friendship Garden.
The Minnesota China Friendship Garden Society has initiated this five-year international public art installation at Phalen Regional Park in St. Paul. The St. Paul-Changsha China Friendship Garden is a sister-city project with Changsha, Hunan Province (a relationship established by former Mayor George Latimer in 1988) and will be built in three phases with a budget of $7 million (see photo). This China Garden will be unique because it will be the only Changsha-style China Garden in the U.S., and because it will recognize the significant historical connection between St. Paul’s large Hmong community and their ancestral roots in China.
Phase 1 (budget of $350,000) will begin with a groundbreaking in the spring of 2017 and will include the installation of a full-size replica of Changsha’s famous Xiang Jiang Pavilion (see photo), with walking paths and landscaping. It will also include an artistic sculpture symbolizing the 5,000 year-old ancestral connection between the Minnesota Hmong and the Chinese Hmong (Miao Zu) and their historic Emperor Chi You in China. Subsequent phases will include a Hmong Cultural Plaza for cultural performances and for educating visitors about Hmong culture and history, a lakeside classroom pavilion with covered walkway for teaching culture and language, a courtyard for Tai Chi and yoga, a Chinese arched bridge and rock garden, and other elements.
Plan to visit Phalen Regional Park now to see the beautiful nine-foot “Meditation” sculpture created by Changsha Master Lei Yixin in 2006. Master Lei is an internationally-famous sculptor and subsequently created the 30-foot Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial “Stone of Hope” Memorial, installed in Washington, D.C. in 2011.
The China Garden Society (a dedicated all-volunteer board) is collaborating with the City of St. Paul, the St. Paul Parks & Recreation Department, St. Paul’s District 5 Planning Council, Changsha People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, and Changsha Yanghu Wetlands Park (sister park to Phalen Park). Carole Hyder, an internationally-recognized consultant, author and trainer in the field of Feng Shui, is a board member of the China Garden Society and is working to ensure the China Garden follows Feng Shui principles.
Become a Donor. Your tax-deductible donations for Phase 1 are urgently needed so we can meet our goal of $350,000 in the next few months. Become a Volunteer. If you have skills in the area of gardening, fundraising, marketing, graphic design, architecture, or photography, or are interested in China, or Chinese culture, art, or architecture, email us!
Join “Friends of St. Paul-Changsha Friendship Garden at Phalen Park” on Facebook. For more information, visit our website at www.mnchinagarden.org or call Linda at 612-791-2218.