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One thought on “Bainbridge Gardens’ Junkoh Harui dies at 75

  1. This is very sad news. I can’t count the times since I moved here in 1992 that I stopped by Bainbridge Gardens and Junkoh gave me advice on anything and everything related to the natural Bainbridge environment, which he knew so well. He always greeted me – and everyone who came by – as a friend thirsting after knowledge of whatever grows on this little swatch of land in the Puget Sound. Each time I visited, when he saw me, he was sure to come over and say hello and ask what I was looking for. He wasn’t interested in selling me a tree or a bush or a flowering plant. His interest was in helping me understand and surround myself with the natural wonders of the Pacific Northwest, to take pleasure in planting and growing and loving my garden. His knowledge of the local flora and fauna was instinctual and encyclopedic.

    In his memory, I’m sure the story will be told over and over from today on – as well it should – of how Junkoh and his wife Chris restored the gardens of his father and mother, who had been forced off their land by the cruel policies of war, of how he and Chris had taken gardens overgrown by blackberries and turned them into an island oasis, revered by all.

    The last time I saw Junkoh was about a year ago. I was looking for fig tree that might work for our climate and my soil. An improbable quest. He took me out and showed me a Desert King fig that he’d had good luck with and explained why it was suited for this island’s soil and climate, as he had so many other times with other trees, like the Plane trees that grace my driveway and the Lombardy Poplars he’d special ordered for me that now hedge my northern property line. That fig tree now thrives in my front yard, steadily growing and this year filled with fruit.

    On that last meeting, he and I, with a twig and leaves in hand, sat at his desk and plied the pages of several books to try to determine the particular species of birch that had been planted so that I could somewhat match it. Parkinson’s made his hands tremble like leaves rocked by the wind, but his voice was steady, his knowledge intact, and his enthusiasm constant. Though his health was becoming more fragile each time I saw him, it still seemed like he would be here forever. And so, in a sense, he shall – just as he will remain in the hearts and minds of the thousands of people on this island who have ever dug a hole in the ground and placed roots into Bainbridge Island soil.

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