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Hello from Pennsylvania

Started by JamesT, March 27, 2008, 03:53:26 pm

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This is also my first time to enter any discussion forum. Japanese gardening has been an interest of mine for a long time, and as a garden builder by profession, I have had the privilege to indulge my love for natural beauty at work.  As I experience just how difficult it is to create truly outstanding gardens, my respect for the gardeners of Japan continues to grow.  Several years ago our family moved to a rural home on 5 acres.  There I tend a collection of plants, mostly trees, which have been with us for years.  I have dreams of nestling a stream with a swim-in waterfall into hills and valleys to be cut into the bank behind our home. Then creating a Japanese-inspired garden in the space between.  I look forward to joining your exchange of ideas on one of my favorite topics.

Wishing you joy in your gardens,

george in the uk

Hi James,
Welcome to the forum.
It sounds like you have got yourself a dream property, best of luck with your project and if it takes years to complete  I am sure it will be well worth it.


Hi James,

Dreams are made for realization! Good luck and welcome!



Welcome, JamesT.  Sounds like you have a fantastic potential in your homestead.  I share the dream of the swim-in water features - have to convince my family that green sides and bottom can be good (yeah right).  I am looking forward to your participation!


Welcome James, and oh does your plan for your future garden sound intriguing.  Can't wait to see what you do with your property it sounds gorgeous.

Cheers  June


Hi James!

Welcome to the forum. I'm new to this site as well, and also from PA. I love your idea of the tumbling stream. Given lots of time and money I'd probably do something similar in my yard.  :)

Take care,
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."
-- Dr. Seuss


Hi James : )

Been many months since I have used the computer.  I have enjoyed your well thought out dialogues.

I am located near Monticello NY in the Catskills . Often my work brings me into the Pocono Mountians . If ever you wanted to see some of the Japanese style gardening stones I have collected from the Hudson River valley region between NYC and the Catskills , Please let me know anytime. So far ? I have not shown anyone from this forum or even that many to speak of in my offline life these stones. But I would be quite excited to show anyone what I enjoy finding . 

I hope the collection of stones are still around . I donated them to a martial arts / cultural arts center with the intent to one day build them a garden . They were all found within a few years .  From experience anything I leave on the ground ends up with the cats and dogs so to speak : )  So if you find artistic stones ? Hide them away under lock and key . I had a construction company cross the property line by 5 feet onto the property where I kept a line of stepping stones and painterly image stones.Sadly they reached over with the excavator and pulled them in as backfill for thier retainer wall !!  Oiy Vey haha .   The best part of Japanese Gardening to me is actually the impermanence and unexpected turns of it all. The more I glean from the forums here the faster my tastes and ideas change. Eventhough Japanese gardens may seem static and contrived at times(Ironic to type this after speaking of impermanence) its more and more about not the gardens finished composition but how the garden changes me within.
Thats how I am evolving here as I share and read others .

Hope you enjoy . This is a great place. Truely is. 




A friend of mine, who also does bonsai, is involved in a group who collect viewing-stones, as suiseki.  They fit them very elegantly with wooden stands carved specially for the individual stone.  (Here is a descriptive web-site http://www.suiseki.com/about/index.html for any not familiar with that interest.)  Are you also involved in this display method?

If either of us can pull away from other things long enough, it would be a pleasure to meet up some-time.  We are near Hershey, PA, in northern Lancaster county.




Hi James.

Agreed. Anytime you can pull yourself away from work for a day , I'll do the same .If and when that time comes  we can exchange E-mails with information such as phone etc .

I know of Suiseki. I believe Suiseki has best taught me what Japanese artwork is about .Therefore I use what I learn from Suiseki  to understand what others are sharring in these forums .

No , I havent mounted rocks on Daiza's or in a tray. that part of the artform is not of my needs , desires. I'm far from displaying objects I covet as beautifull.  So far when I go collecting for Suiseki stones ? It ends up that day of the following weeks as the rocks are still sitting in a bucket of the cars trunk , I meet someone along the way. I enjoy sharring my finds with strangers and as compensense for thier lost time ( we all have places to be ) I end up giving the stones to such persons as gifts . In this manner I pay for the time I took to teach each person ( stranger or friend ) of my found objects - Suiseki Stones.

So there isnt a real need to mount them. I enjoy the spontaneity of crossing paths with stones in a stream and then sharring that with strangers during my travels elsewhere .

To me this is really cool. Like pulling something out of your pocket such as a coin and pulling off some sly of hand coin tricks for some kid . Every kid seems amazed as the coin appears and dissapears to only reveal itself behind his ear  : )  But the magician doesnt keep the coin he took out of his pocket. Right ?  He hands the kid the coin . I guess you can see it as a gift . To me ? The gift was the exchange of magic , not the coin given to another.  And for the magician I guess to loose a gold coin or a copper penny doesnt matter to him if the child is truely amazed with genuine happyness . Like the heart and mind of a 3 year old.  It was the exchange of ideas , thoughts and opening the mind's perceptions - creates pleasure .

This is how I am summing up suiseki . I could pull a gem of a stone worth a gold coin or a mundane suiseki stone to that of a copper. But if what I took out of my pocket or bucket leads to what the magician does the value or not of the stone , it becomes thiers once I sharred its magic .

I didnt plan this. Its just me .

I was going to write a reply on another forum you and Edzerd are sharring together about contrast and juxtaposition. Towards the end I saved the reply in an e-mail not liking what I wrote.  What bothered me was that I thought of the word peace . Peace. How each person can define the word peace differently . Because each person comes from another country or ethnic backround or village to that of different governments and religions or secular . So in the end a Christian peace might be a different peace all together than a Athiest peace or an American peace might be different than a Russian peace.

What I mean is if America and Russia said the sun is white  today and with all our propaganda machines  both nations  convinced its people the sun is white and everyone used the term White Sun then the Sun is White .  1000 years latter people are calling the sun Black. Meanwhile the sun's appearence never changed . And to the people the sun's appearence never changed yet they were convinced this to be true over 1000 years . Lets say this occured over the course of just a decade . People would obviously argue . But over time I dont think people would argue . Things get blurred and what was once white is now black but actually never changed color. The people were brainwashed .

I think this is called a Black and White Fallacy in Logic . English Class , literature. I didnt like the subject of Logic .

Anyhow . I was thinking of the different periods of Japan. From the Poetic Golden age of Hein to that of the Fuedal systems for centuries after . How the transition of color in the garden occured to that of monochromatic styles using hues of green like moss and ferns .

My mind slipped away from the subject of 'contrast' and 'juxtaposition' as the Japanese Garden  to write about and instead I thought about words being used today as we live such as PEACE .  And how contrasts and juxtapositons evil or holy  right or wrong ugly or beautifull can be applied . So I kept wandering in thoughts to that of Victory Gardens of WW2 .  For sure not my taste so I think ugly . Yet poetic when you think of the human element , famillies who are waiting for loved ones to come back home and plant such gardens ..hoping for the wars end , victory .  Celebrating such when the war is won.  Then the garden seems beautifull .  But war seems so wrong to me and why feel sharred emotions over someone elses  Victory garden if I feel that way .  If I am against war totally then I would plant a Peace Garden ? And think that is beautifull .  But I am patriotic and in the end I would serve for my country and fight any war I believe so what type of garden am I. Who am I .

These thoughts occured while typing that reply I never sent . The following day I went suiseki collecting after work.  And then the following day after that was Sunday. Mothers Day. Needing a coffe break during work that Sunday I took a quick trip to the gas station.Walking out of the store coffee in hand I noticed  gentlemanselling mothers day flowers  out of the back of his car so to speak.We chatted a little and he said he was a proffessor . Quickly I thought Gee, maybe he would get a kick out of Scholar Stones aka Suiseki Stones . So I asked him what did he major in and what does he currently work with. His reply was he majored in Education of a particular feild I can recall at the moment and now works with a non for profit group that is about PEACE , defining peace for individuals , helping  the world . Right away I took out a notebook from my car and jotted down thoughts of how to connect the dots of what he sharred about himself and to that of Suiseki - Scholar stones and then to that of creating a Japanese Garden.  When I was done we spent a good half an hour together discussing suiseki stones ,how one teaches peace and  artists of various media . How to apply this to his feild of work.

In the end I told him the stones were his . I really admired two stones out of the group. And it was with great pleasure to see his face glowing not at the giving of the stones to him but from the exchange of ideas and expanding perceptions , how we see words and ideas .  I left with the website to the Peace organisation he works in and a request to find him related websites on Art and Gardens that help define peace . I think I know of just one site about paintings from around the world. But it would be nice now to understand how Japanese Gardens define the word Peace and how contrast and juxtaposition is used fully in this context .  How can the use of contrast and juxtaposition in the garden defined as Peace re - establish dialouges between two opposing groups , at odds of what peace defined means to them both as a whole .

This is my Display Method.  Raw. Out in the open .  What one person on another Japanese Garden forum explained as " hot streaming tooughts " no editing .

Most Discussions on Japanese Gardens lead to Form \ Function and how this applies to Utilitarian or Purely Ornamental designs and how words like Contrast and Juxtaposition work.

Knowing how black and white fallacies do exist and have changed the course of large groups of people for better or worse .  Or in the Contrast - Juxtaposition > for uglier or prettier : )    Maybe now I cna appreciate why Japanese Artforms such as Suiseki and Bonsia are so reluctant to change thier form , criteria and definitions of words .  Staying true to an essence , core of  design prnciples that are bound to original principles - beliefs of how one defines a word in art , society , religion etc . Leads to unchanging easthetics, hard to uproot such ideologies .

I think China is currently in the process of uprooting Confucian thought and transplanting it with a more maleable modern frame that other Asian countries like Japan have succeeded in.

When I view stones , Suiseki stones I am searching for roots . How to define myself . And how this defines the process of what a Japanese Garden is to me . Leading to exactly what style - era of Japanese Gardening  I would like to adopt one day .

I'm always breaking  molds . Adopting new ones . Thier is a plethora of rocks in a rivers meanderings to visualy aid in this process . To validate the process . Ties my thoughts to that of nature making me feel part of the divine . Kind of like Rulers tie themselves to Gods so people have faith in thier power - rulership.  I guess Suiseki is kinda the same ? If I believe in a contrast or juxtaposition and have to define these I would validate , finds these first through Suiseki stone and nature - the river itself as the teacher. Then go back to the forum here and try to understand the logic of what edzerd and yourself type , usually way over my head : ) But if I feel that Suiseki , Nature taught me differently than what is being defined on a forum thread ? then I feel like my definition has more power and I have usurped the logic of language , how words , definitions are used > Cold thought processes . Exact opposite of my thought processes being hot streaming thoughts , mostly vague and always feeling .

This is what a day spent with me is like . Discussing how each stone touches upon words , thoughts ideas visuals and how they came to be. Finding the earliest personal examples that triggered you to know this stone to be such. If two people share this process you begin to see more and more .  Some stones require very little discussion and are silently viewed . Most of all Painterly image stones such as those of a Junk Ship or a Bridge Stone . They are one to one ratios of visual and thought . Once the stone is applied to a composition however then maybe there can be a deeper moment and further discussion as to the bridge stone's meaning . But a stone that looks like a bridge laying in a river as we hike , a newly found object is just that to me , another painterly image stone - a bridge .

So far I havent found anyone to really hike up a river and examine all the boulders and rocks trees and such and truely share as many possible examples as to thier uses in Japanese Arts . From Suiseki , Kare San Sui Gardens to that of Bonsai and Edo Period Stroll Gardens
etc . Like a Blitz Krieg of quizzing eachother as to what each found objects value is . From Abstract to that of Logic .

To this end , I have one collection of rocks in Putnam County NY at a Japanese Cultural - Martial arts center . About 100 stones . From 800 lbs to that of palm sized .  So if ever you wanted to share in this type of experience , how I think type . I would love to take you there and see what you feel. 




I'm sorry that I'm so busy right now that I can't go today.  I'll try in a month or two.



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