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A GARDEN IN FULL BLOOM PARK'S GATES OPEN TO PUBLIC.

Byline: Cecilia Chan Staff Writer

THOUSAND OAKS - Hundreds of people lined up Sunday under blue skies to take a tour around the world.

The Gardens of the World community park, featuring an authentic mission courtyard and a Japanese garden with a pagoda and koi pond, took root on 4.5 acres on Thousand Oaks Boulevard, thanks to the nonprofit Hogan Family Foundation.

``I liked the Japanese part because of things like the water fountain,'' said Sky McLeod, 8. And ``I like to study about Japan.''

McLeod was one of about 100 elementary school students throughout the Conejo Unified School District organized by teacher Gail Small to visit the park featuring roses in an English garden and cypress trees in an Italian garden.

``This will not only be a community park but an education to everybody,'' said Small, who spent a summer in Japan as a Fulbright Memorial Scholar. ``This is right around the corner so we will be here a lot.''

The event included entertainment by local high school bands and the release of 50 white doves. The park will be open 8 a.m. to dusk, Tuesdays through Sundays and will have docents who will lead educational tours.

``It's outstanding,'' said Thousand Oaks City Councilman Andy Fox, who toured the site with local dignitaries invited to a preview of the five gardens before the official opening. ``It would be great for any community.''

More than 1,000 varieties of plants and trees from around the globe are featured in the park, sharing space with a replica of a Victorian bandstand and a resource center. The park was under construction for two years.

``I think it's wonderful that all the people came out and they are showing great appreciation, great respect for all of the workmen that put this all together,'' said Ed Hogan of the foundation, which built the park for $7 million.

Hogan and his wife, Lynn, also are founders of Pleasant Holidays, a tour operator in Westlake Village specializing in Hawaiian vacations.

Hogan said he hopes visitors take away with them ``an understanding of all of the various cultures in the world because peace and commerce work together.''

``When you have good commerce and you have good peace you have prosperity,'' he said. ``When people go and visit the Japanese garden, when they visit the Spanish or Southern California garden here at the mission structure, when they go to the English garden or French fountain and French garden and the Italian garden, all of this show the beauty that is in all different cultures.

``I think that is very important for people to recognize - not (be) parochial-minded but world-minded,'' Hogan said. ``You know, it is a global village.''

The Japanese garden seemed to draw the most visitors.

``I like the Japanese garden more than the mission,'' said 11-year-old Lisa Baffo, who was at project's groundbreaking last year. ``The Japanese garden is more detailed.''

The California mission courtyard, which includes a fountain, stucco and tiles, will soon feature a mural of the state's 21 missions.

Her father, Gino Baffo, who grows a cactus garden, pointed out the plants to his family.

``You wait a year and a half for it to be finished and you get excitement there,'' he said. ``We were geared up to come and visit.

``We've been impressed,'' he added. ``It's a beautiful, nice place.''

CAPTION(S):

2 photos

Photo:

(1) Dozens of white doves flutter by the bandstand and water fountain as part of Sunday's public opening of the Gardens of the World community park.

(2) Garden backer Edward Hogan greets guests Sunday at the long-awaited opening of the Gardens of the World community park in Thousand Oaks.

Michael Owen Baker/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 10, 2001
Words:619
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