From the early 1900s, Japanese American gardeners have cared for their clients' yards, community gardens, and public parks throughout the West Coast. Often faced with limited job opportunities in other fields, Japanese Americans turned to gardening as one of the ways they could start their own business with few resources - just mowers, hand tools, and perhaps a truck. Through their work, they also found an outlet for their creativity and a way to build community pride.
After World War II, large labor organizations tried to unionize gardeners and politicians considered regulating the field through licensing. In response, Japanese American gardeners pushed to preserve their independence by establishing the Southern California Gardeners' Federation in 1955.
Over its fifty-year history, Federation members have volunteered their time and skills to create Japanese-style gardens throughout the region, often in tribute to the achievements of their parents. These gardens commemorate lives with distinctive methods of pruning and arrangement that continue to mark the community's presence upon the landscape. These group activities contribute to a more diverse landscape and greater beauty for all residents of Southern California.
This display is part of Landscaping America: Japanese American Gardeners and Their Gardens opening 2007 at the Japanese American National Museum and is made possible, in part by The Annenberg Foundation and The National Endowment for the Humanities.