Tea Party In Tokyo

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.

The Potting Shed V

I keep wandering out to the country this Winter and I can’t seem to embrace an Urban existence. And, in my hometown the country is called the Lowcountry. South Carolina’s coastal plain is filled with neat things to visit and most recently I have found Botany Island and it’s subsequent park, Botany Bay Plantation to be just lovely. I ran right into this gardener’s shed on the now public lands dedicated to the Department of Natural Resouces. I was so excited to see this little gem with it’s oyster tabby walls dating to the late 1700’s that I ran back here to research the potting shed. And, boy did I find quite a lot of material on the history of the shed, from a philology of the word shed across Teutonic translations unto philosophical derivations of the existential “shedliness” of the word shed. My interesting trek through the Google myriad of articles led me to laugh out right with this one from the Telegraph UK. Leave it to the English to corner the market on a precious potting shed contest!

Ever Wish You Were Somewhere Else?

Today I woke and just wanted to be in Paris again. Maybe it was the daylight savings account depletion. Maybe the sun tilted dramatically during it’s trip around my world yesterday or maybe Paris is the BEST in the Fall. Anyhow, I couldn’t transport myself fast enough to be at work here on the East Coast of the United States by the morning (let alone manage the exchange rate), so, I’ll just dream about strolling through the Jardin de Tuileries on my way to the Pompidou and maybe I can recreate a little Tuileries tomorrow in my own little garden by trimming some boxwood.

Visiting Public Gardens – Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

Went to visit Magnolia Gardens today. Ah, the camellias…they are starting to bloom. I love the Fall and Winter just because of the romance of camellia gardens (well, that’s not the only reason, but, it is certainly one of the reasons). And, I love the late Winter/early Spring when the garden floor is dotted with their fallen petals and blooms. Magnolia has certainly one of the most impressive and breathtaking camellia gardens in America. Merci, Monsieur Grimke… {photos to follow soon}

From Saint-Cloud to the Tuileries

Visiting Paris for me is almost the apex of inspiration (as it is for millions and millions of others). However, it is the Jardin des Tuileries that I like to get lost in…and, Andre Le Notre’s work. It is a mistake to think of your garden as merely curb appeal, plants that line the sidewalks and grass that has to be mowed. Gardens are so important in our visual and visceral lives and this particular book has a way of looking at Gardens, especially these so very important ones of Le Notre. This book, published in 1997 and again 1999 is a collection of photographs by Michael Kenna. Kenna’s collection of landscape photography books are as reverential and historically venerable as these Gardens. Through his lens, we can experience daybreak in Paris and be moved even in black and white. I can’t say enough about his work or Le Notre’s. This book is available at Amazon.com.