Japanese Gardening Forums 日本の園芸フォーラム

Front Desk- Open To Public => General Discussion => Topic started by: edenborn on May 13, 2009, 06:05:30 am

Title: Favour/request
Post by: edenborn on May 13, 2009, 06:05:30 am
Hi everyone,

I have a huge favour/request to ask of this community. I have a section of my garden which today is just plain grass and my intentions were to buy gravel and make a japanese inspired stone area with an abundance of japanese maples.  :)

Would it be too much to ask if I took some photos of the area after work today and posted them on these forums? I obviously want an as genuine feel to it as possible and am scared senseless of screwing it up.  ??? After all, I've come to believe that members of this forum know what theyre talking about and also given me an impression of being very helpful.

Thank you in advance,
Title: Re: Favour/request
Post by: edenborn on May 13, 2009, 12:41:47 pm
I've now photographed and measured the area. The first picture shows the measurements and the second shows where my key plants are placed just now. Anyone up for a good challenge?  ;)

My most humble gratitude for all efforts/tips/ideas. Thank you.


Title: Re: Favour/request
Post by: Jando on May 14, 2009, 05:41:09 am
Sorry no photos are displayed.  Try again Richard.


Title: Re: Favour/request
Post by: edenborn on May 14, 2009, 02:48:17 pm
Oh dear. Looked just fine after i uploaded it. I'll use another photo sharing service.



Does that look better for you all?

Title: Re: Favour/request
Post by: Jando on May 14, 2009, 03:20:25 pm
Richard I am not sure I understand what type of garden you are after.  When you say a bunch of gravel and maples with a Japanese feel, it really doesn't give us an idea of what you are looking for.  Perhaps you could find a photo on the Internet of the type of feeling you are after and share that. 

Do you want raked gravel and boulders and have the maples for a background, or gravel pathways that curve through the space and maples planted randomly like a forest or ??????? 

Title: Re: Favour/request
Post by: edenborn on May 15, 2009, 01:33:57 pm
I truly appreciate the interest you've shown June and understandably my first description might have been vague at its best.  :o

I was thinking racked gravel with islands of green (moss) and rocks. I would need to remove the grass and my thoughts were to use this grass as some sort of elevation around the gravel area. I would also need some sort of barrier to keep the 4 and 1 year old kids from making it their personal sandbox.  :D

By all means you are all free to use the pictures I've uploaded and sketch on and post.

I did find a nice picture though i didnt want to post it here as i do not have the websites permission but i can paste the link for you.

The Pinus Thunbergii i labeled out on my picture has still to grow and become a niwaki as it was just planted last year from seeds picked from Japan and today i came home with 6 new different japanese maples!  here is the coloration of the maple types i purchased and am looking to recreate.
Title: Re: Favour/request
Post by: patch on May 15, 2009, 02:59:39 pm
Your picture link is from Komyozenji Daizaifu temple outside of Fukuoka.
My wife is from Kyushu and we visited family last year. I tried to visit the garden but, A monk had passed away and the temple was closed to visitors.

If you search under the name you should be able to find additional pics.

It was an inspiration for me as well.
Title: Re: Favour/request
Post by: don on May 15, 2009, 06:29:05 pm
Richard, if you follow the example of those photos, you are on your way to a good Japanese garden.
Title: Re: Favour/request
Post by: Jando on May 15, 2009, 10:56:21 pm
Richard, Love the photos, and we can see what you are trying to achieve.  You now have your blueprint and there is no reason to be afraid of starting your project.  Study the shapes of the Island of moss and the outer edge of the gravel in the photo.  Pay attention to the shapes you see, lay out your edges with a hose or something similar and decide how that should take shape before starting.  I like the idea of having the outer edge raised slightly and a good use for the sod you remove, I am just not sure about drainage.  If elevated too much it may make a mess of your raked gravel area.  Study stone placements and research that before placing your boulders in your raked gravel area.  I think you are well on your way to a beautiful garden.

The photo's of how you would like to see your maples look is very similar to one of our members gardens.  I hope he recognizes the similarities and gives advice on how he achieved his beautiful woodland garden.  What planting Zone are you in?


Title: Re: Favour/request
Post by: patch on May 15, 2009, 11:50:13 pm
Richard, I just wanted to add some info that may help you.

When the time comes to choose gravel and if it is within your budget, see if you can locate "Turkey grit" It is granite stone used by poultry farmers that has been chipped into small pieces. It will hold the raked patterns and won't lose it's color.
I have used it on my front yard in a small area and plan to use a lot more in the back yard once my dry stream is structured.

The color, size and texture of the gravel you choose may however depend on the type of stone you have avaliable. Other on the forum can guide you with such information.
Good luck,

Title: Re: Favour/request
Post by: patch on May 16, 2009, 12:04:41 am

Also wanted to advise. You only want Turkey grit that is from Granite. reason being it is also sold as limestone or oyster shell. I have heard horror stories about the smell of the oyster shell grit. :'.
So try to locate a poultry or animal feed store source. If you try to buy from a small garden center or bonsai nursery etc. you will be paying too much.

Anyway you have time to work on all that as you progress.

Good Luck,
Title: Re: Favour/request
Post by: edenborn on May 16, 2009, 01:27:01 am
wow, all the replies! a big thank you!  :)

in sweden i live in zone 1 which is the mildest for sweden so im blessed with being able to plant most things apart from some bamboo's. I did a cross reference on the web and in your zone scale it shows up as Zone 7 to 8.

Ive become friends with the local sand/gravel/stone companies around where i live and the prices as you mentioned vary alot. I would never consider bauying 25kg bags from a store, their prices would ruin me. for 1 ton of gravel i pay approximately $10 and thats their overall price for everything they sell. So if id prefer i could get a 1 ton rock the the same price. a question however that has arisen is the type of gravel that is available in my area. its dark???

ive read and understood the reasons for using a lightly colored gravel but never seen any gardens using the darker types. is this acceptable?

gotta rush, my wifes mother needs help in her garden.  :)
Title: Re: Favour/request
Post by: don on May 16, 2009, 09:15:42 am
I dont know why darker gravel wouldn't be acceptable if that is what you wish to use and if it offers the contrast you want.  The horizontal plane it provides would still be the same.  You would not have the glare problem some find themselves with.  The important thing Patch is saying is don't use round gravel.  You need it to have angular shapes that hold the pattern of the rake (if that is your goal).
Title: Re: Favour/request
Post by: edenborn on May 16, 2009, 11:53:42 am
great don, thank you. yes my most trusty supplier of stone only has rounded "sea stone" which also varies in color from reds, whites, greys blacks but they dont sell the colors seperately. the type im talking about is the one found on the cover of a book called "japanese gardens in a weekend" and im staying away from that. I have however found another supplier which roughly translated from swedish is "crushed mountain rock" so ill be using that instead.

I went and fetched my maples yesterday and there will be a total of 6 new plants. I didnt care much for what colors they had now during the summer but instead stayed focused on what they would look like during Autumn. this is what my final purchase looked like:

Acer Palmatum "Ornatum"
Acer Palmatum "Red Pygmy"
Acer Palmatum "Beni Komachi"
Acer Palmatum "Seiryu"
Acer Palmatum "Katsura"
Acer Palmatum "Koto No Ito"
Title: Re: Favour/request
Post by: Jando on May 17, 2009, 06:17:51 am
Richard you should have great luck with your maples in your zone as long as you have good drainage.  I am looking forward to your progress through shared photos.

Title: Re: Favour/request
Post by: edenborn on May 17, 2009, 10:51:41 am
I have loads of bricks laying about from the previous owners and I tend to smash a few with a hammer and throw down the planting area Ive dug up for the sake of drainage. I will certainly share photos as soon as any progress is made.  :)
Title: Re: Favour/request
Post by: edenborn on May 17, 2009, 12:48:38 pm
After several hours of doubt and retries I've come up with a basic outline of the graveled area. I havent added any "islands" as of yet and the wooden stakes which contain the fargesia rufa's in the upper right hand corner will have to be moved. Ive read the rules on the forum about having to be nice but I really want people to scrutinize the design and let me honestly know if im on the right track. If I'm not then please point me in the right direction with suggestions or perhaps your own outlines on the picture.  :)
If it is ok but you feel your idea's would look better than even these opinions would be grateful. Thank you.
Title: Re: Favour/request
Post by: don on May 17, 2009, 01:20:10 pm
Please provide a picture from the viewing point.  Also, do you have an alternate path to get around this area?  You do know that a gravel area near a treed area is high maintenance?

Consider putting down a small area of your gravel to make sure it is the affect you want before you do the whole area.  In famous gardens with raked gravel areas, when snow falls and removes the contrasting color of the moss/plants areas, the effect is lost.  The test area will show you weather you have the contrast high enough to be pleasing.

Why have you brought the area to a point instead of having it meet the patio?  Again, we need the view from your primary viewing area.
Title: Re: Favour/request
Post by: Jando on May 17, 2009, 05:01:04 pm
Richard, Don has made some valid points and at the bottom of the photo I would continue your curve instead of it going between the planting areas.  The small grass area between your existing plantings would be a par;t of the existing planting areas.  If you need a pass through to another area of your yard just add stepping stones there.  I would not include the patio in the gavel but have a soft curve around that end of the garden and take the point out. The gravel area would be an island.

Raked gravel isn't my choice because of the the heavy upkeep. But that is my personal choice for my garden.  I admire those who do have the time and patients for it.

More for you to think about.

Title: Re: Favour/request
Post by: edenborn on May 18, 2009, 03:36:03 pm
All points made are valid and i do have another area which also would do nicely but the mrs. will have nothing to do with it so ill be stuck with the area under the Sakura. My first thought was to have the main focal point from between the 2 half-circle planting areas to the left of the picture below but i think i just might follow jandos idea and instead create a large joined planting area there. I also like the idea about having the gravel following past and behind though not so that it will join up with the patio. that section around the patio is reserved for sheared red japanese azaleas.


the main viewing point would abviously be alot closer to the area but for the sake of fitting everything onto the photo i had to stand a far bit back.

Title: Re: Favour/request
Post by: Jando on May 18, 2009, 11:39:18 pm
How beautiful it is snowing blossoms.  Pruning your tree would help a lot.  Look at photos and notice how light travels through the cherry trees in gardens in Japan.  Is now the time for pruning after they flower?  It will probably take several years too prune your tree properly.  It looks like it has great bones.

Title: Re: Favour/request
Post by: edenborn on May 19, 2009, 01:36:29 am

I have to agree. I love it when it snows in pinks in summer.  :)

Ive removed all the dead branches from the tree a few monthes back. im not sure if it was the right time but i certainly didnt want to cut into it during summer. I heard that trees generally bleed alot during its growth period. the tree is my gardens most sacred possession and it makes me reluctant to start pruning off branches. the "crown" of the tree is approximately 8 meters from tip to tip and it really does look like a big floating pink cloud.  ;)

Something i have considered though is building a frame out of bamboo around the tree to support the heavy branches.
Title: Re: Favour/request
Post by: don on May 19, 2009, 09:40:54 am
Among Japanese gardeners in Japan, there is a joke about knowing how to prune a cherry tree.  The answer is, "Don't."
Title: Re: Favour/request
Post by: edenborn on May 19, 2009, 10:37:01 am
Thank you Don for confirming that. I like it the way it is and became uncertain. hehehe.  :)


Ive now been to the gravel pits and found what I believe would be a nice size. After some time i did however wonder if it perhaps was too small? What do you think? Im thinking it will easily wash apart with rain?

They even had some really nice big chunks of mountain rock which was solid black in color, I've got a few in mind which im thinking about adopting.


And one last picture just for good measure. My Magnolia Liliiflora Nigra has finally bloomed out!  :D


Title: Re: Favour/request
Post by: kobold on May 19, 2009, 01:53:20 pm
June, Richard

as Don advised against the pruning, I know from Yama san the same and  that the cherries in Japan are different varieties than our  cherries. But even the fruit bearing cherries, as I remember,are  huge trees, not pruned.
Lots of ch.trees have some fungi or virus infection, we used a kind of spray early in the spring, before the leaves came out. The infected branches turned black with dry leaves. Now , after 2 years spraying, no problem. But our tree was damaged, once a soil delivey truck backed in and broke one huge branch. Since the tree is lopsided.

Even in this cold spring, the tree bloomed for my birth's day, end of April. 

Title: Re: Favour/request
Post by: edenborn on May 19, 2009, 03:05:27 pm
Hi Andrea,

Nice to have you join the thread! That cherry tree you got there is a sweetheart. We have a fruit bearing/white flowering cherry in our backyard and that too has only been pruned to remove dead/damaged branches and its probably twice the size of our japanese cherry.

Anyone have any input on the gravel i photoed? Feels like this thread soon is going to be moved to the plants section.  ;D
Title: Re: Favour/request
Post by: Jando on May 19, 2009, 07:54:14 pm
Great cherry Andrea, and I didn't realize you couldn't prune a cherry tree.

I am not certain Richard but I think the gravel has to be larger to hold its shape.  I am sure someone will chime in with a proper answer.  I do like the color.  And the blossoms were worth waiting for they are beautiful and the color is really cool.

Title: Re: Favour/request
Post by: patch on May 19, 2009, 08:51:09 pm
This is just a suggestion...  and only if it is cost effective and reasonable for you.
Would it be possible for you to purchase a small test quantity of the gravel pictured and perhaps a few of the dark colored stones you considered adopting (certainly much smaller sized ones of the same color and texture for testing).
My idea would be to lay out a sample design with the stone and gravel in the area you plan to redesign. (don't thing you would need a large amount) That way you can view your materials together to determine if they are cohesive and provide the effect you are looking for. (also if you have your listed maples that would be a great opportunity to see their cohesiveness with these materials). (the textures, colors, patterns, sunlight, shadow, etc.)   
Don or someone else who may know... I believe I read somewhere that there was a recommended measured size for gravel. anyway, I would test that gravel both wet and dry to see if it holds a pattern. Even the best gravel will of course eventually lose the patterns... That's what makes raking soo much fun. 

Good luck,  Patch.
Title: Re: Favour/request
Post by: don on May 19, 2009, 09:24:47 pm
Try to find something around 1/4 inch with angular sides like crushed stone, not river stone with rounded surfaces.  Make sure it is double-washed or you will be pulling weeds constantly, even though I am sure you will be putting down permeable barrier cloth.
Title: Re: Favour/request
Post by: edenborn on May 20, 2009, 12:51:44 am
thank you,

yes the gravel is smaller than 1/4 inch. and I also read somewhere that the ideal measurement should be 4-8mm which is equivelant in inches (1/4 inch = 6.25mm). The stone is crushed and does not have a smooth surface. I'll be using double layered geotextile as experience has taught me that 1 layer sometimes isnt enough to keep weeds away.

Getting a sample quantity sounds like a very good idea. Ill see what i can pull off but at this time i feel im still in the designing phase and have yet to get alot done here.

In regards to viewing point, wouldnt it be more attractive having it at a long and narrow area to get a sense of depth from the boulders/islands instead of on the longside?
Title: Re: Favour/request
Post by: don on May 20, 2009, 06:52:23 am
Narrow would not be good unless you indend a river bed.  In this case, it would be set with stones along its edge and meander with crooks and elbows.  Look at some of the examples on the web.  Some examples are in www.japanesegardening.org under Gardens in Japan.
Title: Re: Favour/request
Post by: edenborn on May 22, 2009, 05:24:51 am
A colleague of mine had the opportunity to go to Japan on an assignment for a year and during this time he managed to take a great deal of photo's, he too being interested in Japanese gardens. On one occasion he booked himself into a cheap motell and boy was he suprised to see what was in the backyard.  :o

Something along these lines were what I was thinking in regards to the shapes of "islands" in my garden.  :)