Valley Garden's long-lost gem is restored

Harrogate's Valley Gardens.
Harrogate's Valley Gardens.
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After more than 12 months' hard work, a lost feature of Harrogate's award-winning park is nearly ready to be unveiled in its full glory for the first time in nearly 90 years.

Friends of Valley Gardens’ long-held ambition to revive the town’s Japanese Garden will finally be realised at the end of this month.
The restoration project was originally launched in January 2017 after Friends of Valley Gardens were awarded £89,200 to partner with Harrogate Borough Council.
A final planting session is scheduled to take place next Wednesday and the third and final phase of the work is expected to be completed by the end of April.
To celebrate the return of this once essential part of Harrogate’s traditional splendour, FOVG has teamed up with Yorkshire Centre for Wellbeing on Duchy Road to launch a series of free yoga and meditation sessions in the Valley Gardens.
Ann Beeby, FOVG volunteer project manager for the Japanese Garden Restoration, said: "It is a well-known fact that both being and working in gardens and green spaces improves a feeling of wellbeing.
"Japanese gardens in particular, in various parts of the world, are already used for meditation and mindfulness techniques owing to their calm and peaceful ambience.
"For the next 12 months the project is embarking upon a series of events in the garden to engage and inspire our visitors."
The restored Japanese Garden, whose heyday was way back in 1930, has been created and designed by an expert - Graham Hardman, vice chairman of the Japanese Garden Society.
Led by Ann Beeby and Liz Chidlow, volunteer project managers from local charity Friends of Valley Gardens, donations towards the lengthy project have also come from from North Yorkshire County Council's Community Fund through councillors Jim Clark and Don Mackenzie, Harrogate Flower Club, Waitrose, Asda and the Co-op Community Funds.
The aim of the restored Japanese Garden was to create a design which incorporated elements of the garden as it was in 1930 from archive images with up to the moment ideas in Japanese gardens, making the most of its rock and water features, in particular.
The project managers have also been working closely with Harrogate Borough Council on the project, joined Russell Towers and Robert Wood from main contractors TWS and stonemason Johnny Clasper.
The first free Wellbeing class was held on Easter Monday.
Two more are still to follow - Yogic Practice with Yorkshire Centre for Wellbeing's James Burford on May 7 and Yoga and Moving Meditation with Yorkshire Centre for Wellbeing's Anne-Marie Burford on June 23.
On the day it will be the first 30 people to register who are able to take part.
Registration will commence at 10.30am on the day at the main entrance to the garden and is open to the first 30 people to register.
In the event of wet weather, the sessions will still go ahead up in the Colonnade near the Sun Pavillion.
Anyone interested can contact Anne-Marie in advance for more information and to register an interest on 01423 524893.
On the day it will be the first 30 people to register who are able to take part. Registration commences at 10.30am at the main entrance to the garden.
In the event of wet weather the sessions will still go ahead up in the Colonnade near the Sun Pavillion
Work on restoring the Japanese garden began in January 2017, when FOVG began clearing the site, along with Leeds tree surgeons TreeSaw.
Then in April the main contractors fenced the site off to begin.
Last September saw the end of the second phase of restoration of the Japanese garden in Harrogate’s Valley Gardens marked by the removal of the fencing around the site.
Ann Beeby and Liz Chidlow, Volunteer Project Managers from the Friends of Valley Gardens (FOVG), who have worked closely with Harrogate Borough Council on the project, joined Russell Towers and Robert Wood from main contractors TWS and stonemason Johnny Clasper to mark the exciting milestone.
Phase Two saw the stream drained and desilted, additional footpaths created, new entrance archways erected and three new bridges constructed.
Japanese rock sculptures were installed by volunteers from the Japanese Society and new seating has been provided.
Phase Three has been carried out by FOVG volunteer gardeners, assisted by the Japanese Garden Society.
FOVG also worked very closely with local schools and other members of the community to encourage on-going active support for this new area within Valley Gardens.
Financial support for this phase has been given by The Heritage Lottery. Donations from NYCC Community Fund through Councillors Jim Clark and Don Mackenzie, Harrogate Flower Club, Waitrose, Asda and the Co-op Community Funds, and Friends of Valley Gardens.

The Japanese Garden Society team at work on the Valley Gardens' Japanese Garden.

The Japanese Garden Society team at work on the Valley Gardens' Japanese Garden.