About Phalen Regional Park China Garden

The Minnesota China Friendship Garden Society, working with the Saint Paul Parks & Recreation Department and two Changsha architects, is pleased to announce the conceptual plans for a Changsha-style China Garden at Phalen Park. The sister-city project between Saint Paul and Changsha in Hunan Province is a relationship that began in 1988 and will be the first Changsha-style garden in the U.S. 

Design features include an open-air pavilion and stone garden, a Hmong Cultural Plaza, a lakeside pavilion with a waterside patio and veranda, an entrance arch, and an arched bridge. The main pavilion will be in a Changsha-style architecture and modeled after the famous Aiwan pavilion in Changsha. A stone garden will lead from this pavilion to the water channel and use Minnesota stone. The Hmong Cultural Plaza is an important element in the China Garden because Minnesota Hmongs claim Changsha as their ancestral home, and a large Hmong community live in the Phalen Park area. Hmong cultural symbols and historical information will be included in the Plaza. 

The China Garden will be built at a site north of the Phalen Park picnic pavilion and water channel and east of the Stone Arch Bridge along Lake Phalen. It will complement Public Art St. Paul’s “Minnesota Rocks!” symposium sculpture “Meditation,” already at Phalen Park that was created by internationally known Changsha sculptor Master Lei Yixin, who introduced the two architects to the China Garden Society. Master Lei was the sculptor of the Martin Luther King Jr. Stone of Hope Memorial in Washington, D.C. 

Garden designs will integrate nature and culture; expand cultural understanding; demonstrate the aesthetics of Chinese art, landscape design, and architecture; foster further sister-city activities and trade; and create a sense of community as a place for celebrating life events, recreation, and meditation.  

Project Updates

Summer 2019

The bridge and path leading to the pavilion are currently closed due to construction of an archway. 

Winter 2018-19

The Hmong Heritage Wall and Xiang Jiang Pavilion are now complete. The parking lot nearest the China Garden will be closed during winter 2018-19. To view the Hmong Heritage Wall and Xiang Jiang Pavilion during winter, please park at the golf course or picnic pavilion parking lots. 

Phalen Regional Park (PDF)

June 14, 2018

Construction of the Hmong Heritage Wall and foundation for the Xiang Jiang Pavilion foundation is ahead of schedule.  The first excavation for the Hmong Heritage Wall revealed better soils than anticipated.  The sandy soil is perfect for the foundations and easily drained any rain that fell the past week.  The concrete wall for the Hmong Heritage Wall is complete and backfilled.  The following links show the progress. 

Foundation Ready to pour

Forming the wall 

Completed Wall 

Wall backfilled and site ready for the pavilion foundation

The Xiang Jiang Pavilion foundation is being formed today and will be poured tomorrow, Friday June 15th.

The containers with the Xiang Jiang Pavilion, West Entrance Gate, and Hmong Heritage Wall were loaded onto a ship earlier this week and departed the port in Shanghai at 8:45 am CDT yesterday morning.  It is expected to arrive in Vancouver on Wednesday June 27th.

June 1, 2018

Construction for the foundation of the Xiang Jiang Pavilion, Hmong Heritage Wall, and West Entrance Gate began on Thursday May 31st.  The excavation for the Hmong Heritage Wall is the first item being completed followed be the concrete pour the week of June 4th.  A progress photo can be seen here: Photo 

This past winter, the health of one of the existing pine trees behind the building site for the Xiang Jiang Pavilion significantly declined and died.  See attached photo.  Even though none of the existing trees were to be impacted by the development of the garden, it was determined it was best to remove this tree before construction of the pavilion began so the tree didn't become a liability later on.  Additionally, a large branch broke out of an oak tree just west of the construction site.  Upon inspection, the loss of the limb and internal hollowing, has left the tree as a safety hazard in the park and will be removed.   

April 26, 2018

Fabrication of the Xiang Jiang Pavilion has begun in Changsha, China.  Once the pavilion is constructed, it will be carefully disassembled, packaged, and shipped to the US with an arrival in St. Paul in late June.  Chinese artisans are being sent to direct the assembly of the pavilion which will begin on July 9th.

Photos of the progress will be posted soon.

April 4, 2017

The Geotechnical Engineer will be onsite Wednesday April 5, 2017 to collect soil borings for the Geotechnical Report they are preparing for future structural features of the garden.  They will complete their work in one day.

March 2017

Parks and Recreation has just received a Neighborhood STAR (Sales Tax Revitalization) grant for the project.  We are currently awarding a contract to a geotechnical engineer to perform soil borings and provide a geotechnical report.  This information will be used for the design of future site elements.  The engineer will be on site in the next few weeks to perform their work.

The MN China Garden Friendship Society is still actively fundraising for the project.

January 2016

In January 2016,  husband and wife architect team Jennifer Junfang Fan and Jon Youhua Wen, from Changsha, and Alice Messer, senior landscape architect at the Saint Paul Parks & Recreation Department, completed the conceptual design for the Phalen Regional Park China Garden.

The Phalen Regional Park China Garden conceptual designs are preliminary, and the China Garden Society and St. Paul’s District 5 Planning Council will be seeking community input in March. This garden will be built in phases with Parks & Recreation creating the phase budgets. Construction will begin in 2016.


In 2015 a bill sponsored by House representative Tim Mahoney and senator Foung Hawj provided $50,000 Legacy Funds for the China Garden conceptual designs.   

In October 2015, four members of the China Garden Society traveled to Changsha with St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman’s eight-member delegation to conduct research on Changsha garden architecture, tour several famous gardens, meet with Changsha architects, and learn more about Hmong culture in Changsha. A sister-city park agreement was signed between Phalen Regional Park and Yanghu Wetlands Park in Changsha at that time.


The conceptual design process began with a District 5 Planning Council community meeting in November 2014 to gather community input.


In 2011, the City of St. Paul, Ramsey County, and the Metropolitan Council approved the China Garden as part of the Phalen-Keller Regional Park Master Plan.


Donations are needed to help build the Phalen Regional Park China Garden. Call Mealey-Lohmann at 612-791-2218 or donate online at www.MnChinaGarden.org.

Last Edited: July 19, 2021