HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The Japanese Tea Garden at Monte Sano State Park has been around for over 20 years. Some say it's a bridge between Japanese and American culture.
Although, in recent years, it's gone downhill and needs some repair in many areas.
"In the beginning, it was just a project for me and my daughter, my oldest daughter to do together," said landscape designer Robert Black.
In 1988, Black closed a garden center in Huntsville and had experience with different Japanese plants. Living on the mountain, he needed some space to put those plants.
"I asked the ranger at the time, could I find a place in the park that had a creek or some kind of water to make like a bridge and a little Japanese garden, but just for surprise, like a secret garden," explained Black.
Throughout the years, Japanese Spring Festivals were held on the grounds and it was known for its serene atmosphere... then, things changed.
"About 10 years ago, I guess, I had cancer and I had to battle it off, but I couldn't work for a while... so this started going down," said Black.
A state park ranger at the time noticed the condition of the garden and didn't realize what it really was -- prompting Black and other volunteers to start the cleanup process before they lost the garden as they knew it.
In the Spring of 2016, Black and volunteers decided to bring the garden back to life, like it was 20 years ago.
"We'll work for a little bit, we run out of money and material and have to sit and some of that's damaging it, but that's why we're trying to get it all kicked off and get it all fixed right away for," said Black.
With the help from the north Alabama community along with locally owned and nationally recognized Japanese companies, Black hopes they can restore the garden into what you might see in Japan.
If you'd like to help with the revitalization of the Japanese Tea Garden, visit this GoFundMe page. The group would like to raise $30,000.
If you'd like to see the garden in person, take Nolen Avenue and drive in to Monte Sano State Park, passing the guard gate. Don't turn towards the lodge. Keep going on Nolen and proceed to the office. Park there, and just to the right of the office, you'll see a sign for the Japanese Tea Garden.