The Japanese Garden at Pocantico

2006 marked the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Asia Society by former RBF president John D. Rockefeller 3rd. The occasion was celebrated with the Asia Society exhibition, ‘A Passion for Asia: the Rockefeller Family Collects’, which displayed sculpture, ceramics, prints and textiles amassed by three generations of Rockefellers. However, the family’s love of Asian art extended beyond these objects to two gardens indebted to the landscape tradition of the Far East – the Japanese garden at Kykuit, and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden in Seal Harbor, Maine.

This article by Kykuit's former curator, Cynthia Bronson Altman, offers a history and tour of the Japanese garden at the Rockefeller family home, now a property of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and will consider the garden’s early form of 1908 and its expansion in mid-century. An important example of the Japanese garden in America, its design combines elements of several types: stroll garden, hill and pond, dry landscape (kare-sansui), and tea garden.