Phalen Regional Park China Garden

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

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 geotechical 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