Well, here to read and learn. Stumbled on this forum out of gardenweb. I like Japanese style gardens, but not sure they're for our location (coastal plain w/no stones).
We are at the top of a large hill, ~7 blocks from the water. Our yard has quite a bit of shade from large oaks, maples, cedar, wild cherry and a few others. The soil is pretty good, it is a loam/sand loam with 20% or more glauconite pellets in the fines, a "green sand soil", but there are NO STONES.
We have one 30 year old Japanese maple out front that is ~10-12" in diameter and 10' tall and wide, no much landscaping the elderly couple that built the place let it decline with their health. The house is a 1970s contemporary and the lot (~150x 80) slopes ~10' from side to side and front to back.
If there are any Asian influenced gardens that rely less heavily on stones than others, I'd appreciate being pointed in the right direction. I've been borrowing plant choices from some Japanese garden books and have been thinking about a pond.
Welcome Kurt and it sounds like you have a beautiful setting. And I don't think you need to have stones to create a Japanese inspired garden. It would be great to see some photos of your location. It sounds like you have some great bones to work with in your mature trees. I have seen many photos of Gardens that do not rely on stone. You should have distant views to work with and being on top of a hill should give you great elevations to play with. We would need to see some photos to really get into it for you. You say you are from Maryland near the bay but if you could give us information like your climate Zone that would help too.
Again welcome to the forum and I sure hope you post some photos.
Check into the use of large flat stepping stones and massed shrub groupings called Okarikomi.