The Japanese Garden, originally designed with extensive landscaping and stonework by storied Dallas garden design firm Lambert's and established in the late 1960s, remains a vibrant green space nestled in Kidd Springs Park, a City of Dallas public park.
The lush grounds of the Japanese Garden are populated by a magnificent variety of trees that are unique and rare to the Dallas area. These include a rare Shortleaf Pine, several Ginkgo biloba trees (aka Japanese maidenhair trees), and Red and Black Pines. The Dallas public green space also contains towering Deodor Cedars, Windmill Palms, Golden Rain trees and many varieties of Japanese Maples as well as an admirable variety of bamboo species and flowering perennials. Meandering walking trails overlook a two-acre natural spring-fed lake.
This cherished public green space also contains a remarkable collection of Japanese antiquities including two 17th century Buddhist sculptures, the oldest public art in the City of Dallas, as well as a magnificent ten-foot tall carved-granite stone lantern originally sent by the Emperor of Japan's government to the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago. All of these antiquities were collected by Ethel Buell, an Oklahoma/Texas oil heiress in the Roaring Twenties and Thirties for her 10-acre Japanese garden in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Her collection was acquired in 1967 after her death by the Dallas Park and Recreation Department and thus was born Dallas' only public Japanese garden in Dallas, officially dedicated in 1971.
A 2016 campaign to rehabilitate the historic Japanese Garden is now underway by Friends of Oak Cliff Parks along with many community partners including the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, Dallas Park and Recreation Department, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension/Water University, Crow Collection of Asian Art, Japan-America Society of Dallas/Fort Worth, Dallas County Master Gardeners, Kidd Springs Central, Kidd Springs Recreation Center, Edith O'Donnell Institute, Old Oak Cliff Conservation League, and neighborhood park supporters.
Recently over 45 new trees were added in 2018 and 2019 to the Japanese Garden by Friends of Oak Cliff Parks including many evergreen tree varieties such as Arizona Cypress, Feelin’ Blue Deodar Cedar, Thunderhead Black Pine and Blue Atlas Cedar. All of these trees were acquired with funds donated to Friends of Oak Cliff Parks by individual Dallasites. Major donors include Dr. Elba and Domingo Garcia, Laura and Walter Elcock, Ellen and Allyn Fitzsimmons, and John Mark Ellis and Mark Pritchett.
*In the park's rec center, pick up a free copy of the broadsheet publication by conceptual artist Cynthia Mulcahy produced for her research-based public art project "Performance as Gesture: Songs for a City Park," which in 2015 uncovered the forgotten history of the Japanese Garden at Kidd Springs Park.
For more information about the Friends of Oak Cliff Park's 2016 rehabilitation campaign, please contact us at www.friendsofoakcliffparks.org. A link to the above mentioned publication is also available on this website.