by Preston Brady III 2023
The Charles Wood Japanese Garden is often called one of Mobile’s secret gems – a beautiful place nestled off to the side of the much larger Langan Park, a place many people have no doubt drove past and maybe remarked I wonder what that place is? What it is, is 14 acres of a piece of Japan right inside of little old Mobile, Alabama, the result of a dream of a then 89 year old man who wanted to create a place for artists to draw and paint in the style of Japanese ink painting called sumi-e. In 1992 he was able to acquire the right to lease an old fish hatchery ( I remember visiting the hatchery as a kid. Not a lot to see, just ponds of fish.) What started as a single-handed vision began to take shape with the help of friends and family, and today is aptly called a zen like spot to come and take in koi and lily ponds, a number of marked walking trails (bridges make it handicap friendly.) This of course was not my first visit, but during lunch yesterday I parked under the shady oak trees across from the entrances ( there are several trails leading into the park.) Minutes in I see a turtle down on the sandy bank along the Three-Mile Creek that rushes through this park.
Then I ran into one on the bank of one of the lily-koi ponds:
Across the park on the edge of one of the ponds I spotted two people exercising Tai Chi:
As I said, this place is still one of Mobile’s “best kept secrets” so I practically had the park to myself, seeing only two other people (besides the Tai Chi folks) during my half-hour walk. There is a welcome-gift center at the entrance but perhaps due to being the lunch hour it was closed. The Charles Wood Japanese Garden is a non-profit organization with a web site here. As beautiful as it is, it continues as a work in progress, and there were gardeners working the day I was there. It would be neat if the City could chip in and maybe help beef-up the little road leading in and out of the park. I can definitely say leaving the hustle-bustle of the city and walking into this park, admission-free no less, is a rewarding experience most people will enjoy. For me the best part are the beautiful lilies and koi ponds, and the bridge paths that weave over them and the creek.