The arrival of summer in Fukushima is heralded by the sweet fragrances
and vivid colours of plants in full bloom. While the prefecture
is renowned primarily for its high quality fruit and vegetables,
there are also a number of farms in the region specialising in the
cultivation of herbs. The Miharu Farm Herb Garden, a sprawling 70,000
square metre garden lovers' paradise located on the outskirts of
Koriyama in Miharu-machi, is one such place. With a collection of
over 350 different varieties of herb, the garden is well known both
within and without the prefecture, with visitors from all over the
country among the 180,000 people who pass through its grounds yearly.
Created seven years ago by a group of Miharu residents who began
growing herbs for fun, the garden quickly expanded, as did staff
numbers. From its small beginnings with only ten employees, the
business has grown to the point where it now has a payroll of approximately
one hundred. The Miharu Farm Herb Garden prides itself on its "hands
on" policy - something which differentiates it from other such
gardens which discourage visitors from touching their plants. The
garden was made with the objective of teaching people about herbs
and their uses, and as the primary characteristic of herbs are their
smell, the garden's owners encourage people to touch and rub the
leaves of the plants in order to enjoy their fragrance. The herb
garden holds several special events throughout the year to coincide
with the seasons for different types of herbs. By far the most popular
is the Lavender Fair held every June. More than forty types of lavender
are featured, and classes on everything from cooking with lavender
to the use of lavender oil are offered. Miharu is also the only
place in the country where visitors can enter gardens and pick their
own lavender. Other events include the Summer Fair - a food festival
held in August, a "concert under the stars" where people
can relax with a picnic in the gardens while listening to jazz music
(also in August) and the "Herb Garden Christmas" in December.
Regular activities include classes on flower arranging, Christmas
wreath making, making pressed leaves and the use of aromatherapy
and essential oils.
The garden itself is divided into several sections, including
an "English - style" garden, a rock garden, a fruit
garden and a rose garden. Although herbs are the centrepiece,
many of them do not flower, and for this reason, flowers have
been added to the garden for aesthetic purposes. Vegetables such
as zucchini and tomotoes are also grown and sold at the garden's
food shop in addition to other homemade foods such as herb sausages,
herb sauces, seasonings and dressings. Visitors can also enjoy
these freshly grown products at Parterre, the garden's restaurant.
The selection of mouthwatering dishes on offer - all the chefs'
original creations - utilise the freshly grown herbs and vegetables,
and the menu changes regularly according to the season. A selection
of herb goods ranging from pot pourri, essential oils and dried
flowers to cookies, cakes and teas can also be purchased at the
main shop, while at the adjacent Green Shop, those with a green
thumb can buy seeds , plants, pots and other gardening supplies
to create their own herb gardens at home. The Miharu Farm Herb
Garden is located ten minutes south east of Koriyama Station beyond
the Koriyama City Art Museum. Buses run between the garden and
the station throughout the day from April to November. Open every
day except Tuesdays, the entrance fee is 500 yen for adults and
300 yen for elementary school students. Contact details are ph.
024-942-7939 and fax 024-942-7941.