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How, why are you a member of this JGO foum?

Started by pstanton, October 10, 2016, 09:58:16 PM

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For the origin of this topic see "Feeling the berm" in the Projects sub forum.

Trying to remember how this came about.  Equivalent question would be how, why, when even where did I become interested or even aware of J. Gardening? What are you trying to accomplish in JG?

Very young I knew I was a Japanophile, preteen, I was a woodworker carpenter and such also from youth and earned my living that way off and on throughout my life.  This lead to an interest in Japanese woodworking, tools and architecture.

At some point in the 60s I obtained a copy of  Japanese Homes and Their Surroundings by Edward S. Morse, a Dover book.  I read and reread this book and expanded my collection of books on this subject with The Japanese House: A Tradition for Contemporary Architecture by Heinrich Engel. I began collecting and using Japanese woodworking tools.

Those books are long gone, the tools I still have and use.  Somewhere in this time I got Landscape Gardening in Japan by Josiah Conder, which I still have and use.  The images in that book are the first images of Japanese Gardens I ever saw.  Black and white photographs poorly reproduced, but they where enough to spark a life long interest.

These images evoked a feeling, not sure how to describe this feeling but it was a good feeling.  And if poor quality two dimensional black and white photographs of these gardens evoked a feeling, what would the actual experience do?

I have never had that experience, except for what I experience in my own garden.  My experience is second hand through images, photos and videos.

As for what I am trying to accomplish?  I am not that goal oriented, I like experiencing the process as I am taking part in it.  Just like doing it.  So maybe visiting existing gardens is not so important for me (unless it is to set some rocks, or even just pull a few weeds).




In honesty there is a goal, or really goals, but right now goal is to get a good overall design for the site, get a plan.  Then work the plan.

Much of this is done and much remains to be done. 

The main theme, shakkei of this garden is in place (image), the rest remains undone.


well, as it is often said, the goal is the journey itself... some may disagree with that, but I kind of share this idea. It seems to me that you do as well...
PStanton, the land you have there is vast...  as much as I'd like to develop my garden on such an area, I would perhaps at times feel... sort of lost ... but then:

I guess it's natural to start from the centre ( immediate vicinity of the house, the living area and then spread outwards... like a solar system.
You have your house, your Sun... then a bright Venus, the blue beloved Earth, an intriguing Mars... and on the perimiter, obscure Pluto and Charon...

Remember: " Out here in the perimeter there are no stars..."   :o

You need the perimeter, best left to be a perimeter, to appreciate your inner solar sytem and some fabulous comets.

Now, to put in an argument for the concept of the journey itself being the goal: I came to JGO forum roughly 2 years ago when searching the web for info/hadvice  concerning an overgrown pine of mine... and in addition to getting some great guidance, I encountered many other wonderful ideas and people here.

Maybe not that many people per square mile trying to do do Japanese gardens ? ... we're rather spread out, it seems (like those darned planets ?)
So, I guess JGO is a great place for us to exchange thoughts and ideas. 



Hi kabuki, good to here from you!  Have cool crisp autumn days arrived in Budapest?

Appreciate the lyricism of your post.

Yes the problem of the rural Japanese garden or just the rural garden in general ...

There a few enough Japanese Gardens not in Japan, then add the further qualifier rural.

I do at times feel lost trying to define a garden in such a vast space. There is the pond and the borrowed view beyond, a sort of boundary and enclosure on a large scale.  Then the tree line and berm on the left of the entrance a much more confined space.  (which I have been listening to as a right brain activity i.e.; trying to intuit or better let intuition - insight  happen on its own, which seems to be how that works.  Not neglecting the other side - left -with a bit a analysis. 

In general it seems easier and more natural to have a looser informal approach to rural gardens.  Fences and walls yes, but sometimes just plantings up to the border of the woods as enclosure.  Well suited to tea garden style.

I have a design process step by step example which I will post in the projects "feeling the berm" topic.

It's been interesting doing this and not finished yet so curious myself how it will turn out.



Hi there pstanton,

Autumn days here this year seem to be more of the soggy type, whereas we usually get a fair share of the crisp coolness that you mention and I myself miss this a lot... but still several weeks to go, and though w forecasts show rain and cloud symbols for days on end, I reamin optimistic.

Summer, which I tend to b..tch about, turned out unexpectedly "traditional", the heat waves we had were brief (2-4 days ), were not that frequent and not that very extreme either.
Precipitation was more or less ideal, didn't have to do much watering.

Huge gardens in old Japan had the necessary labour to build and maintain them, for us, who are not daimyos, it's a different story - I hardly have the time and energy to properly tend to my own much smaller garden  - that's why I say the that letting farther areas stay or go a bit wild will not necessarily hurt the aesthetics of the garden, but the we need to have  the basic concept of having less formal solutions and to apply a gradation of aspects and attitudes, as one ventures outward from the center..

Since your trade is carpentry,maybe you've been thinking already of doing something like the attached pic ?  Here, what is natural, blends so nicely with what is man-made...
At a first glance it seems to me that it pretty well matches the basic character , sizes and proportions of what you have...

And now for the trivia question of the day: Where was this quote in my previous post taken from ?

"Out here in the perimeter there are no stars..."

No fair checking the web...   ;)



Glad to here you did not suffer too much heat this summer.  Envy your copious rainfall.

Beautiful image that; humbling also.

Have not seen a yatsu-hashi that sort of meanders along the shoreline before.  Not sure also if this is a true shakkei garden.  In the sense that some borrowed scene is the main view and focus of the garden, the rest being supportive.  Hard to tell from the image. I suspect more of a stroll garden.   I think on the scale of my pond such a prominent and high energy structure in the foreground would draw much attention to itself, when the attention should go out to the distant view.  And of course laziness (euphemistically "repose") is another element that is present in my garden, the bridge is the opposite of that.  But beautiful and brilliant in the image.  Look for low energy foreground elements, turf, gravel low rounded bushes and stones.  Just to frame the view but not draw the attention away.  Also the is a long sinuous curve in the foreground, and going off into the distance, near the shore line which draws the eye out to the view. (image)

Image taken from the main viewing position.

As for the quote, I have no clue of course, I need a hint, at least the genre, is it sci-fi?

Any guess on "There's not a speck of dust in the mountains."  ?



yeah, hard to tell if it's borrowed scenery there, way in the back, or "just" more of the same (huge and as you say, humbling) garden.
It's always a big dilemma, to decide how to guide the visitor's view...  it's a delicate balance that awaits to be achieved... sitting at this pc here, from what little I know about your garden, I wouldn't say that the environment would outrule some structure like this at the shoreline closest to the house, but of course I can't be sure...

Karikomi is a good idea, but very generally speaking, if you blend too much, there might be a risk of losing the original purpose, and while I understand that you've set your mind on the shakkei thing, that does not mean you can't have very few elements in the front that stand out.  Anyhow, I'm sure you'll conjure up the right recipe on how to get the best solutions... it's a slow process, and so much hard work , but who's in a hurry ?

My quote was Doors, Jim Morrison... ( I guess in line with my lyrical mood last night...)
You got me with yours... no idea...   let me in on it ?


The outlet for the pond is at the very far end, I could really use a bridge there at times, so maybe if I live long enough?  Ha, just like everything else, when I stop and consider.  Up close to the house, where I have a little spot to just sit and look around I need a little something to stand on as I feed the fish, but probably a good size flat stone, and some supporting rocks.

Google Earth 42 deg 08' 11.51"N   76 deg 23' 33.74"W

Maybe this can give some idea of what I am working with.

Amazing times we live in, thinking of the ability to be able to show someone this birds'eye view so easily!

Funny, I was thinking scientist not artist for the quote.  Maybe some cosmologist, Stephen Hawking. Imagined someone looking into the deep reaches of space, and way back in time as a result to an early epoch before the formation of stars.

The speck of dust quote was from zen master ta hui

Don't know his dates, but an old timer fur sure.

More from the same writing

"Just when you can't escape, suddenly you get rid of the cloth bag(of illusion) and without being aware of it you will be clapping your hands and laughing loudly."

From a book my daughter gave may a ways back "The Little Book of Zen"


Possibly better not to consider too much, but just do...  although this advice is not really authentic from someone like me,  as I am a great  "contemplator" and "considered" myself.
I downloaded Google Earth last night, but when I enter your coordinates, it gives me a street about 4-5 miles from where I am... Iwill have to find out what I'm doing wrong...

till then,  you might find  the attached photo  interesting ...  at least in case you don't  know about this  garden already....it's part of the gardens of the Adachi Art Museum, created in 1970, I think.

My saying "blending too much" in my previous post, is easy to misunderstand,  I meant blending of similar shapes , in search of  harmony might result in getting something too homogenous... But the photo I have attached now is proving me wrong:
I find this an extremely refined composition, seems to be good use of Shakkei  there,  the colours and some intermadiate shapes create the necessary contrast,  while the blending itself is really great, nice undulating style, connecting beautifully the foreground, middle and back parts.  The pines among the gravel in the  middle are kept short to enhance the optical illusion of depth and distance with relation to the hills and the canopy int he back... You can see more great pics and short videos here:


The Adachi M. Garden is really a contemporary garden, it's landscape art hinting at minimalism, which is not alien to certain traditions in Japanese art. I really like it, a great syntheseis  of the traditional and the modern.

Thanks for your Zen quotes,  I dig the one with the sack... while the one with the dust and the mountain does indeed sound zen-like, but  somehow,  I failed to catch on, that it is indeed  a quote from an actual  Zen master.  Athough I really appreciate  Zen and sometimes instinctively relate to things with that attitude, I am not well educated in it... With the cold seasons here, I should catch up on this a bit with some reading.

The quoted part of the Morrison verse goes on like this:   
"Out here in the perimeter there are no stars ....Out here we IS stoned Immaculate"
I also sense a zennish kick-in-the-behind in this quotation... I guess that's why I like it...  It's actually last lines of a longer verse, but I think these two  lines are very effective on their own. 


"Possibly better not to consider too much, but just do...  although this advice is not really authentic from someone like me,  as I am a great  "contemplator" and "considered" myself."

Maybe consider, I think a rational side of the brain function, for a time(craft); then let the wonderful, and underused, intuitive, sub conscious brain go to work(art).  IMHO all great art has come from that side of the mind.  Evidence: We stand dumb founded, silent only feel, in its presence. So rare!

About the Adachi.

Please understand I have never seen this garden, only images, quite a few.  So my comments are really BS.  I hear almost nothing but raves and praise for this garden. 

To me the images are perfect in every way; except they are too perfect!  Giving it an unnatural clean crisp appearance which put's me off.  Not intimate.  Trying too hard.  Not restful. Anal.  You get the Idea. Maybe like you want to go visit an old friend , to experience the comfort of his company, and he's dressed in a three piece suit. But I'm a bit of a lazy sloppy fellow so maybe It's just me.  The feel is off for me.

And this is BS I have not been in the garden for real.


Thought just occured to me: Maybe there are some spooky security measures going on with google, given the state of world today? Does that make sense?

More on Adachi;  From the images it is amazing for sure, craftsmanship and maintenance impeccable, rock arrangements superb, plants too, much to be learned from it I am sure.

Zen:  Not so intellectual, not thinking, reading about okay, but like reading about exercise program, it won't tone your body. reading about zen won't tone your mind.  Building new neural networks into new states of mind.  This from a serious back slider, who lately seem to doze off every time I practice.  Age. I go thru phases with it, but it is potent stuff and cure for our lopsided modern brains.


Earlier I tried picking up some books on Zen, but after browsing  these a bit, I ended up putting them back on the shelf...Suzuki or other, I didn't feel there was much in these tomes, at least not for me, though I have one book, which is sort of an introduction to the topic, which I liked a lot. So, I guess it really is, as you say, sort of like exercise... you gotta do it, to appreciate what it's about. At the same time, if you can recommend any good reading on the topic, I'd  try follow up.

Adachi: My experience is like yours... only photographic, 2D, second hand, BS as you put it... wasn't aware it's such a phenomena and subject of general praise and raving, but I guess that's what perfection amounts to... like Greek statues, or the Nightwatch, the Mona Lisa, or the Brothel of Avignon in western art... eventually they may get boring... and then, small imperfections can usually make a work of art much more interesting  (eg. aspects of wabi-sabi).
Though that place (okay, I won't say the name again ;) seems too pristine and perhaps without soul to you, I think it gives lessons, incl. shakkei.

Google Earth: you could be right, but I think it's more my fumbling and being clumsy with new softwares... I still have to check and try again.


kabuki, I have done as you have throughout my life.  Reading on buddha, forms buddhism, zen, and such.  Suppose I just was not ready to meet the dharma until nearly 60.  Now a practicing buddhist.

And it is the dharma, the doctrine that is important.  How you practice not so much, everyone seems to have an individual path.  So trial and error, and as Buddhism comes to the west easier and easier to find places to practice , teachers, books.


Lion's roar is a popular Buddhist magazine which seems to cover all aspects and I don't believe sectarian, so not leaning toward mahayana or hinyana, zen or tibetan tantra its all there.  All paths leading to the same thing, liberation.

The mahamudra meditation is similar to zen and I enjoy.

I also meditate along on youtube with various teachers.

Go to local zen group that meets once a week.   Or should say went, its too far, but if it was less distant I would be a regular.

Tons tons on the internet.

Hope this helps.


October 15, 2016, 10:33:43 PM #14 Last Edit: October 15, 2016, 10:40:18 PM by mslater
My first experience of Japanese gardening was visiting the Normandale Community College Japanese garden in Bloomington, MN, as part of an after-school elementary enrichment program on Japan. I was hooked. (In retrospect, it was not especially authentic, with lots of Chinese and Western elements.)

Many years later, I was a Chinese history major in college and then lived on Taiwan for two years, which had been a Japanese colony for a period of time. There is a beautiful Japanese garden in Taipei that I visited regularly and of course, lots of Chinese gardens. Since then, I've mostly read books on Japanese gardens and have paid several visits to the Portland Japanese Garden. Terry invited me to tour his home Japanese garden, which is amazing. This summer, TK Cannon gave me a tour of the Queen Lili'Oukalani Japanese Garden on Hawai'i. Hopefully, I can get up to the Seattle Japanese Garden this coming spring.

My long-term goal is to have a Northwest ornamental woodland garden that draws on a Japanese plant palette, and some Japanese materials and aesthetics.