The Korean Bell Garden at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens since 2011 has captivated visitors with a wooden pavilion, volcanic-rock statues, totem poles, flowing water, a flower wall depicting the four seasons and a 3-ton bell engraved with longevity symbols.
State and local officials joined the Korean dignitaries Oct. 7 in planting a Korean pine tree at the garden in celebration of the site’s 10th anniversary.
Created by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NOVA Parks) and the Korean American Cultural Committee, the garden has become a cultural landmark beloved by visitors and is a “visible symbol of the strong partnership between Korea and the United States,” said Cho Tae-yong, ambassador to the U.S. from the Republic of Korea (ROK).
Dignitaries planted a Korean tree at the ceremony to reaffirm that alliance.
“Just like pine trees, the ROK-U.S. alliance will defy hardships and stay the course in promoting the values it was founded upon, and those are the values of freedom and democracy,” he said. “I look forward to hearing the bell ring for many years to come.”
Supervisor Walter Alcorn (D-Hunter Mill) said board colleague Penelope Gross (D-Mason) was unable to attend the ceremony because of a family emergency, but had been the “godmother” of the garden’s creation.
State Sen. George Barker (D-Alexandria) noted that an aunt and uncle of his had been Presbyterian missionaries for about 40 years in South Korea and that he had four cousins who grew up there.
“It has broadened our perspectives and [given] an appreciation for how Korea has progressed in many ways – economically and in terms of democracy and all those types of things,” Barker said.
Del. David Bulova (D-Fairfax) said he thought his legislative district had the most Korean-Americans of any in Virginia.
“I take that trust very, very seriously,” Bulova said.
The garden is a special place that underscores Korea’s not only with the United States, but Virginia as well,” Bulova said.
Those ties are academic – George Mason University has a campus in Korea – as well as economic and cultural, he said.
Del. Irene Shin (D-Chantilly-Herndon-Sterling) noted that Korean is the third-most-spoken language in Virginia, after English and Spanish.
“I think that’s a testament to the thriving Korean-American community that we have, especially here in Fairfax County,” Shin said. “The pine tree . . . has been a long-standing symbol of the Korean people, not just for its usefulness, but also for its evergreen nature and its resilience.”
Del. Vivian Watts (D-Annandale) recalled attending the dedication of the garden’s bell of peace and harmony.
“Particularly in today’s world, we are concerned about our friendships and our allies and our respect for democracy,” Watts said.
The Korean Bell Garden was one of Fairfax County’s loveliest places, said Del. Karrie Delaney (D), who represents part of western Fairfax and eastern Loudoun counties.
The tree planting “just really deepens the beauty of a place like this, because it is now just so symbolic of not just the physical beauty of nature, but of the relationships and the celebration of culture that is just so important to Northern Virginia,” Delaney said. “The vitality that the Korean culture brings to our Northern Virginia area is something that is so worthy of celebration.”