The Ordway Gardens: A Japanese Collection


The Ordway Garden through different seasons.

The Ordway Gardens, previously know as the Como Ordway Memorial Japanese Garden, is a lasting memorial to the friendship between the city of Nagasaki, Japan, and Saint Paul. It was endowed by the Ordway family in memory of their mother Charlotte Ordway, and designed by Masami Matsuda, a ninth-generation Japanese gardener.

The original design for the garden was a gift from the city of Nagasaki in the 1970’s. The garden is landscaped in the Sansui mountain-and-water style and covers an acre. Construction was made possible by donations from the people of Saint Paul and Nagasaki and the hard work of volunteers from both Minnesota and Japan.

The Japanese garden you see today is the result of renovations completed in 1991. Renovations included the addition of the tea house and tea house garden. The purpose of the renovations was to create a truly authentic Japanese garden experience. Much of the renovations were overseen by the original designer Masami Matsuda. Matsuda traveled to Minnesota and volunteered his time on four occasions, staying for months to work on the garden with his own hands.


Podcast Audio Tour

SPNSCC is proud to offer a free podcast audio tour for the garden. The Ordway Japanese Garden Podcast Project was a partnership between the Saint Paul – Nagasaki Sister City Committee (SPNSCC) and the Minnesota Historical Society in 2012 to document the creation Como Japanese Garden. The podcasts served to document key individuals involved in the creation of the garden and SPNSCC’s commitment to the garden as a symbol of the friendship between the cities of Nagasaki, Japan and Saint Paul. Additional stops may be added to the audio in the future.

The podcast is available to download free here from the Community Stories website.


Japanese Lantern Lighting Festival

The Japanese Lantern Lighting Festival provides an opportunity to visit the garden at night lit by traditional Japanese lanterns. The Como Lantern Lighting Festival, presented by SPNSCC and the Japan America Society of Minnesota, is held the third Sunday of August every year and celebrates the Japanese Obon holiday. To learn more about this years’ lantern lighting festival, visit our events page or the Como Park website.


Experience a Japanese Tea Ceremony

The Como Japanese Garden features a traditional Japanese Tea House. Not normally on display to the public, the tea house may be accessed by visitors when accompanied by a Japanese Garden Volunteer. The tea house is fully function and regularly hosts tea ceremonies during the spring and summer. To learn more about the tea ceremony and sign up for upcoming ceremony presentations, visit the Como Park website.


Now Recruiting Volunteers for 2015 Season

Get Involved with the Garden Today!

Are you interested in volunteering at the Ordway Gardens (including the Japanese, meditation, and bonsai gardens) this year? Information and a link to the online application may be found here or call to inquire to Como Park Zoo and Conservatory Volunteer Services – 651-487-8252.

The Ordway Gardens: A Japanese collection

The Ordway Gardens include a Japanese garden, a meditation garden, interactive educational components and a bonsai display. Learn about the history of Japanese gardens at Como, discover the key elements of a Japanese garden and bonsai, and explore the intricacies of a tea ceremony.

Persons completing this training are expected to schedule shifts at least every other week in The Ordway Gardens for the entire season (April-September/October).