Many favorite garden plants were introduced to Western horticulture from Asia by late 19th- and early 20th-century collecting expeditions, including magnolias, rhododendrons, camellias, peonies, maples, and bamboos, all of which are well represented in the Asian Area.
The collection area includes much of the Asian continent with the majority coming from temperate climate and subtropical areas of China, Japan, Korea, Siberia, the Kamchatka Peninsula, and the Himalayas. Plants here are not arranged geographically; rather they are placed in a naturalistic way, with a focus on aesthetics.
The topography within this area accommodates plants from incredibly diverse wild habitats. Sunny, relatively dry areas contrast with damp, shaded places, which are often ten degrees cooler than the surrounding Garden. Plants from disparate areas may be juxtaposed, and what they have in common is their latitude in the wild or a similar habitat type. Temperate climate plants from across the Asian continent thrive here.
The Asian Area began as a collection of rhododendrons donated to the Garden in the spring of 1930 and these plants still form the core of the collection below the Japanese Pool along Strawberry Creek. The Rhododendron collection is diverse, representing the many colors and growth forms of the genus, which includes azaleas. Other well-represented groups include the witch hazel family, maples, hydrangeas, and epimediums.
Among the Garden’s horticultural treasures are nearly 450 kinds of Japanese plants, over half of which are of documented wild origin. They provide great seasonal interest to the landscape beginning with the showy azalea bloom in spring, the maple color in fall, and the sculptural beauty of the enormous Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica ‘Elegans’) in winter. We also have an expanding collection of herbaceous plants and woodland plants from Japan.
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