Carbondale Public Library's Japanese Garden was officially opened on September 29, 1988, as part of Arts in Celebration '88. Evergreen Garden Club developed a plan for the garden, and Southern Illinois Landscaping Services installed it. The project took about two years to complete and cost $5,000.
One of the garden's most popular features is a weeping cherry tree, which is a beautiful sight in the spring and a favorite with library patrons. The garden also includes Blue Rug juniper, azaleas, rhododendrons, mugho pines, variegated liriope, threadleaf maple, Japanese maple, bird nest cypress, and Japanese black pine.
A patio with benches adjacent to the garden provides a place for people to relax and enjoy the serenity of this quiet, peaceful spot. In 1996, another Japanese lantern was added to the garden. It is from a 1902 World's Fair display and was donated from the estate of Mary Marberry Swindell. Mrs. Swindell had been a trustee on the Carbondale Public Library Board for 20 years. The Evergreen Garden Club continues to assist the public library with the garden's upkeep.
The original Evergreen Garden Club Japanese Garden committee members were: Barbara Lesar (Chair), Sue Casebeer, Sadako Clarke, Jean Morrill, Polly Fink, Marge Patton, Carol Christensen.
The initial impetus for this project was the acquisition by the Evergreen Garden Club of a Japanese lantern at the garage sale of a departing member, Helen Leys, in the spring of 1985. Discussions followed as to the best use the club could make of the lantern, and understandably, the idea of a Japanese-style garden emerged.
An initial plan incorporated placement of berms and rocks on the uncompromisingly flat site. Money from gifts and fundraisers allowed hiring a professional, Cheryl Francis of Southern Illinois Landscaping. Large rocks were donated by Jerry and Boyd Butler. Other gifts in kind included small rock and gravel by Southern Illinois Landscaping, removal of soil by E. T. Simonds Company, shredded bard and handmade wood signs by the Carbondale Park District, extension of a fence by the library, and donation of two trees by Memorial Hospital of Carbondale. City of Carbondale workers moved topsoil onto the site, and a local ceramist, Lois Lembcke, donated a stoneware lantern.