Thank you so much to a good friend, Nicky Stolker, of Amsterdam that alerted me to this visual column. What else can you say, but, “WOW, WOW.”
I have been travelling around Asia lately photographing gardens. The Japanese take the cake in the 21st century for their style And, the 4th. And, the 14th. They essentially have three types of gardens, most of the influences begins in 400AD with Buddha and they continued to finesse until the 14th century. Karesansui Gardens, or Zen Gardens as we refer to them in the West, are the dry gardens that are abstractions…the box of sand with rocks and the rake, you might recall? These are for meditation. And, of course they exist not only in the miniature you are familiar with. Tsukiyama Gardens are the style that really makes the gardeners of the East famous with the gardeners of the West. These are the majestic sculpted gardens. I will talk more of these later as I have visited one of the style in Tokyo. And, finally, Chaniwa Gardens. Tea Party Gardens. The fountain above is typical and the visitor is to cleanse his hands before partaking in the sacred green Tea Party. The fountain is followed by lanterns and the lanterns light a path and the path leads to a tea house that is generally kept amongst the flora and out of site. These are the gardens that support the Western decorations of towers of cemented lanterns and fountains and such that are curiosities of our garden supply shops. In Charleston, South Carolina we have many formal gardens that have such accoutrement in them. The Tea Party was all the rave in the colonies, brought to America vis a vis the Dutch who colonized New Amsterdam (New York). The Dutch had the most magnificent Eastern trade on the ocean and brought with them the tea. Think about a serene scene and not these very, very misguided and embarrassing rallies that are going on across the United States today. The influence of the Japanese Tea Garden is one of my favorites: peace and harmony in the pretty garden.
Wow! I am very lucky some days and I get to visit places that look like this. Airy Hall in Charleston, South Carolina is a private piece of heaven and this is the ancient Live Oak, or Quercus virginiana, drive way. She is underplanted with lime shaded, gorgeous annual Ryegrass or Lolium multiflorum. Used for color, beauty and erosion control out of doors and quick growing (seeding almost overnight) color terrarium extravaganza indoors by me (see category). And, I must credit myself with the photo, though, I would like to make sure that everyone knows that I have not always used mine own photographs and will continue to find others that enchant me….however, I will try and find the author and give credit where credit is due!
Forget the enormous amount of upkeep necessary for that gorgeous lawn in this shot. I am here for that little garden path. The encroaching wildflowers make themselves at home in these rocky, compacted areas. I just love irregular spaces in between slate and granite crammed full of hardy little succulents and Alysum, or Lobularia maritima, crowding the stones and creating an old world feeling, like it has been around since the Appian Way, making it the queen of garden paths. This gem is created by Edwina von Gal for her client on Long Island.
Okay, I am still on Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina and dreaming of Piet Oudolf designs. Why else would I want to sculpt a topiary tunnel up the pathway? His combination of boxwood and natural grasses are legendary in Europe. Now he has just finished the High Line garden design in New York City. And, we can all learn from Oudolf: plant native grasses. They are so indelibly conservation savvy. And, look how pretty, too.
I have just recently broken ground in a garden I designed for an urban/townie location; small and shady. Today the garden path started to really take shape and got me very excited. And, tonight I am pouring over others’ ideas for hardscapes…..softer hardscapes to be exact. Mine will evolve over the next few days because the hardscape is to look natural and like it has been in place for quite a while. (I drive my mason crazy because I am very hands on during the creation and want to scatter the pebbles just so….) I just love how the two of these garden paths are so similar and, yet, evoke pleasures of different eras of time as well.