March Lecture

March Lecture

Ben Chu

Horticultural Supervisor,

Missouri Botanic Garden

The Creation and Preservation of Missouri  Botanical’s Japanese Garden, Seiwa en

Mr. Chu will present about the history of Seiwa en, the Japanese Garden at Missouri Botanical Garden, discussing the Garden’s progression from conception to present day.  He will also focus on current efforts currently underway to preserve the Garden for the future without the direction of its designer, the late Koichi Kawana.


Mr. Chu graduated from St. Louis Community College-Meramec in 1979 with an Associates of Applied Science in Horticulture.  He joined the Missouri Botanical Garden team in 1982 and worked as supervisor of the Japanese Garden from 1985-1990.  He worked with the designer of the Garden, the late Koichi Kawana, and gained important insight into Mr. Kawana’s vision for the Garden.  He currently supervises the staff that maintains the South Garden including: the Japanese Garden, English Woodland Garden, Strassenfest Garden, Victorian District, Boxwood Garden, and the Gardens at the President’s Residence.  As the head arborist, he is involved in various aspects of tree care instructing staff in sound horticulture pruning techniques, training new staff in safe and efficient tree climbing, conducting tree health and hazard assessments making recommendations for tree removal and replacement.


Throughout his career, Mr. Chu’s expertise and passion has been arboriculture.  He continues that pursuit as a member of the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA).  In April 2012, he was awarded the Foreign Minister’s Commendation from the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs that recognized his contributions to Japan/US relations in the cultivation and promotion of the Japanese Garden.   In December 2014, Mr. Chu obtained ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualification.


Mr. Chu also instructs Adult Education classes and University of Missouri Extension Master Gardener classes covering Pruning Basics and Japanese Garden Design.  He has consulted, designed and built private Japanese Gardens in and outside the St. Louis area.  He also regularly consults and prunes at Terrace Park in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.