Is it Shanghai? Singapore? Beijing? Yokohama? No, this lovely Asian garden is on the east bank of the Des Moines River! It’s just a short walk across a pedestrian bridge from the Iowa Events Center, where the third annual AQS Des Moines Quilt Show & Contest wraps up today, and it’s just one of the many pleasant surprises an out-of-towner can experience in Iowa’s largest city.
The Robert D. Ray Asian Gardens and Character Garden were opened last year on a site provided by the city of Des Moines. The gardens are the first phase of the Chinese Cultural Center of America Riverfront Project, designed to highlight the importance of diversity and acknowledge the significant contributions that Asian Americans have made to Iowa. The picturesque Asian pavilion sits atop an undulating bridge, spanning a pond that cascades into the Des Moines River with a series of waterfalls. Strolling by the stone pagodas, lanterns, and sculptural rock formations, you are spiritually and visually transported to a Far Eastern paradise.
The Character Garden features six large granite boulders arranged in a circle, each carved with Chinese characters representing responsibility, citizenship, fairness, respect, caring, and trustworthiness. The boulders symbolize and celebrate the six enduring moral values that transcend time, nationality, and culture.
Back to quilts: The AQS Des Moines Quilt Show & Contest closes today at 5 P.M. Congratulations to best-of-show winner Lisa Calle of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, for her quilt Hula Hibiscus. You can see photos of this beauty and all the other award-winning quilts at http://americanquilter.com/. If you couldn’t make it to Des Moines this year, it’s not too early to plan ahead. Next year’s AQS show will take place Sept. 28 – Oct. 1, 2011.