Garden at Risk: Mukai Farm & Garden

In early April 2016, the State Court of Appeals ruled that the Friends of Mukai organization is the lawful governing board of Island Landmarks, the property's owner. The decision was reported in the Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber.

The ruling, which gives the Friends group control over the house and garden, marked the end of four years of legal battles.

The legal dispute began in 2012, when the nonprofit Friends group asserted control of Island Landmarks, contending that the organization had failed to fulfill its obligation by not opening the home and garden to the public and by allowing the property to fall into disrepair.

Mukai Farm and Garden, located on Vashon Island in the Puget Sound, is a unique cultural resource in the Pacific Northwest. It is the former residence, garden, and place of business of an Issei (Japanese immigrant) family. BD and Kuni Mukai, the original owners, overcame many obstacles in their quest to establish a life for their family in America.

Mukai Garden is a Japanese stroll garden bordered by many cherry trees. It was designed to be shared with family and friends and to provide a venue for social gatherings. In addition to its legacy of the immigrant experience, the garden is significant because, contrary to male-dominant Japanese tradition, it was created by a Japanese woman. Mukai Garden is a synthesis of Japanese and American influences— a combination of the Japanese elements of earth, stones, and water and Kuni’s knowledge of Pacific Northwest gardens—that tells the story of how Japanese women achieved new freedom upon their immigration to America and how the social structure of the Issei was changed.

History: The Garden Conservancy supported and guided the restoration efforts at Mukai Farm and Garden from 1999-2001. In 2000, Mukai was one of the first recipients of a federal Save America’s Treasures grant. It  is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

More info on the Friends of Mukai.


Recent news from other gardens at risk around the country:

A public hearing was held on February 24, 2016, by the Boston Department of Public Health about the fate of the Prouty Garden at Boston Children's Hospital

A settlement between UCLA and Hannah Carter's family on September 30, 2015, gave a new lease on life to the Hannah Carter Japanese Garden in Los Angeles, CA.

In June 2015, the New York Times reported that the Russel Page garden at the Frick Collection in New York City was spared from pending demolition.