Gilbert, Ariz. – Gilbert Sister Cities and the Town of Gilbert hosted a ribbon-cutting event on May 20th to mark the opening of the Gilbert Sister Cities Friendship Garden at Gilbert Regional Park.
The garden is a joint project by Gilbert Sister Cities and the town designed to celebrate Gilbert’s relationships with Antrim-Newtownabbey in Northern Ireland and Leshan, China.
The garden features a 30-foot mural by artist Julia Berryman that symbolizes the three cities coming together through friendship, culture, and long-term relationships.
Representatives from the Antrim-Newtownabbey Borough Council attended the ribbon cutting, including Mayor Billy Webb and Alderman Mark Cosgrove, along with members of Gilbert’s Chinese American community and the Gilbert Town Council.
“It’s important to have a garden like this in Gilbert to show the connectedness that we have across the countries, through the world,” Gilbert Mayor Brigette Peterson said. “It connects our cultures, our people and our love for each other.”
The garden is located on the southern end of Gilbert Regional Park, 3005 E. Queen Creek Road, and is open to the community during regular park hours, 5:30 AM – 10:00 PM.
The project was funded by community support in the form of donations and in-kind services which has equated to more than $200,000 to date.
Gilbert Sister Cities Friendship Garden Amenities
- A 30-foot mural that represents Gilbert, Antrim-Newtownabbey and Leshan, coming together through friendship, culture, and long-term relationships. Mural artist Julia Berryman is a Gilbert native and graduate of Mesquite High School. Her parents are of Chinese and English/Irish descent.
- A bridge representing Northern Ireland designed after the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge in Northern Ireland which links the mainland to the tiny island of Carrick-A-Rede.
- A bridge representing China that most resembles the Haoshang Bridge which leads to the Wuyou Temple in Leshan. Its highly rounded arched pedestrian bridge is associated with gardens throughout China.
- A white crane sculpture. In Chinese culture, the white crane symbolizes positive change and focuses on the need for balance and living in harmony with others.
- A holestone sculpture that, as Irish folklore claims, will bestow everlasting love on couples who clench hands through the hole in the stone.
- A water fountain located in the middle of the garden that emulates columns from the Giant’s Causeway on the edge of the Antrim plateau in Northern Ireland. The area is comprised of 40,000 interlocking basalt columns which are the result of an ancient volcanic fissure eruption or as folklore tells it, a walkway for giants making their way between Northern Ireland and Scotland.
- More than six hundred plants and ten trees planted by Gilbert Leadership Class 30.
- Ten benches, including one solar-powered bench with charging ports, designed for comfort and reflection.
The original article posted on the Town of Gilbert Website can be found here: