When he travels to Japan this summer to study abroad, University of Louisville senior Paul Gardner already knows what he wants to tell his host family.

“I’m going to talk about these all the time over there,” Paul said as he stood beside one of four newly-planted Japanese Kwanzan cherry trees on the Belknap Campus. The trees were purchased by the Japan Club, and Paul, who is club vice president, helped plant them in March along with members of the UofL grounds crew.

The anthropology major/criminal justice minor said one of his favorite things to do on campus is to sit quietly under one of its many trees. Belknap Campus has more than 2,500 trees, many native to Kentucky and historically significant.

Since he also loves everything about Japan and Japanese culture, it was only natural that he and fellow Japan Club member Takeshi Lee Dempster came up with an idea about a year ago to plant the cherry trees.

Concerned about upcoming building construction near Crawford Gym, where a grove of Yoshino cherry trees provides a spring show of blooms every year, the club searched for a different area to plant the taller-growing Kwanzan cherry trees.

The trees were planted near the North visitors’ center on a patch of land adjacent to the Gheens Science Hall and Rauch Planetarium. Paul said he hopes their pink blooms will be a refreshing and welcoming site for visitors, students and parents.

He said he hopes club members can hold traditional Japanese tea ceremonies someday under the trees.

“I just wanted to do something that would add nice balance to the campus,” Paul said. “You can see (the site) gets the perfect amount of sun, rising from the east, which I love because Japan is known as the land of the rising sun, and it’s in the East.”

The four trees cost about $100 apiece, and Paul said the club would like to purchase more if it can raise the funds.

The trees were planted in late March by the North visitors' center.
The trees were planted in late March by the North visitors’ center.
Janet Cappiello covers student success for the Office of Communications and Marketing. She has more than 30 years’ experience in journalism, including working for The Associated Press and magazines such as Vegetarian Times and Sustainability: The Journal of Record. She has been at UofL since 2014.