The brainchild of Dr. Joshua M. Smith, his wife Satomi Smith, and his brother Matthew Smith, Serene Gardens blends Japanese-influenced gardening, art, cuisine, and culture in a fluid space that hosts a store, café, and educational space. Influenced by Josh’s stint as an apprentice at Japanese nursery and design company Furukawa Teijuen, the garden center lures in customers with Eastern plants and design elements ready for duty in yards, homes, or cars made of old terrariums. The music of Josh’s shakuhachi bamboo flute—featured on four CDs sold in the shop—wafts through the shop, previewing the art form that clients can learn during in-store classes. Other lessons delve into flower arrangement, which Satomi has studied since she was a child, and the choreography of a Japanese tea ceremony, which demands fewer pinkie lifts and more high-fives than a British high tea.
After lessons or shopping excursions, guests can find peace between the lime-green walls of a café serving tea brewed from loose-leaf blends. At midday, Satomi also delves into family recipes to conjure lunches that incorporate dishes such as edamame, gyoza dumplings, and miso soup.