Japanese Garden, ideas and comments

Tony_C(z5Michigan)December 4, 2004

I've been working on my Japanese Style Garden for a couple of years now and although I've tried to stay with appropriate shrubs and trees I'm concerned I'm not getting the "Japanese Look" I'm searching for. I realise it's still early ...

I'd really value and comments, ideas or observations, from those of you who might have been through this process.


Here is a link that might be useful: Tony's Garden

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edzard(3b Canada)

Tony,... you've done a great deal of work.
- personally I would observe that trying for a 'style' garden is not in the same category as a Japanese garden you may be expecting of it. Observing that a Japanese garden is also a 'system' that incorporates architecture and gardening, along with compositional painting etc.

Is there a template or something that was being followed? What is the 'concept' of the garden? -many things in the composition ie: alignment of the tops of the shrubs do not relate to things I can relate to.
What are 'appropriate shrubs and trees'? I ask since one uses whatever shrubs and trees that carry the reflective qualities one needs within the concept.

-mostly, i find that the garden has not been designed top down.
-that the stonework + retaining walls do not relate to anything I have experience with in a Japanese setting.
-Stones on path are regimented and not set into the ground, rather onto the ground.
-the main view seems to be the bench, rather than a main feature such as the waterfall.
-having said all this, the space lacks groundcover and background corrective tree material that tells me 'where/what, it is. (and why are all those trees staked???)

back to the beginning, if you are expecting a 'style garden' then this is heading in the right direction. If you are expecting it to perform as a Japanese garden then the above would need to be worked upon.

and thank you for sharing,..
(heavy downloads, wheew,.. on 2 copper wires...) and for posting the additional 'lower pond' picture that harkens back to the EPDM liners in ponds...

    Bookmark   December 4, 2004 at 8:01PM
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Thanks for the input edzard.

Maybe I can add some background that might make it clearer where I started from:
The low timber retaining wall was already in place, I used it (breached it where necessary) as a means of seperation between the lower (lawn area) and the garden proper.
The slope was planted with about 30 Formal Yews (Tuna cans), I removed them as necessary and pruned out lower branches to show some of the structure. I left some in place (for now) to provide mature evergreens until my newer plants have time to fill in the space. I can see why you would say they look aligned, they very much were.

As far as a template was concerned my intention was to orientate the waterfall and cascade to the major viewing points (the sunroom and the initial garden entry). My thoughts where to produce a strolling garden, where the path across the slope presented different views as one walked thru' it.

By appropriate shrubs, I've tried to use a variety of spreading evergreen, (particularly Juniper ' procumbens nana), Japanese maples (there's probably more than a dozen in total), azaleas (in the woodland understory) Kousa Dogwood, Pieris and Kalmia, several kinds of cypress, a couple of pines and larch to name a few.
I was looking for shape and texture in each of these choices.

Could you clarify your thoughts for me on Stones on the path? Would removing some and having an irregular steamside
I now see the bench is a focal point, that's easily fixed, it was there to allow one to sit quietly by the waterfall alongside.
I am beginning the process of clothing part of the slope with Creeping Thyme (Mother of Thyme) and although that's progressing well it's still a lengthy process. I'm hoping the spreading evergreens will cloth much of the area currently under woodchips.
Since reading on the tree forum that trees shouldn't be staked, they are now gone, most have been there for better than a year anyway.
Any thoughts on the arbor (type, style etc), I was trying to "borrow the woodland landscape" with it and on the fence design?


    Bookmark   December 4, 2004 at 9:15PM
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Hi Tony,

Great photo and I second Edzard's comments about the download! I've got the old dial-up as well.

I also concur with his statements about the lay-out. I'll make a lot of comments, please don't take offense at anything. One thing that I've learned from these forums is that "cyber-talk" is easily mis-understood in tone.

From my view, it looks like you are trying to have one of everything. JG's work best when they are simple. While I would kill for your stone, it seems to be all over the place and not sited properly. I think that fewer stones would work better.

I have the same Yews as you in front of my house and have been working on shaping them. Unfortunately, I don't currently have the ability to share the photos. You did well by cutting away the botton branches to expose the trunk, but seem to have left the old "pom-pom effect on top. Because they are planted on a slope they would look really great if you trimmed the top down towards the front of the plant. Hard to describe but I got the idea from one of the local businesses who did that with their yews. Try and shape the top more irregular, almost kidney shape and then try and tilt the whole thing to slope down to the front. Think artist paint paint palete sloaped down. Am i making myself clear? At any rate, the ones I saw and am tring myself looked beautiful!

The retaining walls will never work so try and cover them with either some bamboo or the straw mats that sell in the garden catelogs. I'm going to use some split bamboo to cover my 2 by 8 lumber that I use for my raised bed veggie garden.

My last suggestion it to try and look at as many books on Japanese gardens as you can. Get them from the library or read for free at a Borders. If you see enough, you'll get some inspiration.

FYI, I've been working on mine for a few years now and it's hard to get it right. I do it, redo it and then change again. But I guess that the fun in it.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2004 at 6:06AM
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Thanks for the input mrlee, no offense taken, this is the reason I asked...

I do have a lot of variety in there

By fewer stones, do you mean fewer in the landscape or fewer aroung the waterfall/stream. I can certainly reduce the number since I'm planning to add a second stream, which will converge just before they cascade into the lower pond.

I like your thoughts for the yews, I've never been very fond of them 'as is' only leaving them in place to add some maturity to the lanscape.

I realize the retaining wall will have to go and like your thoughts on a more suitable covering, rather than tearing it out.


    Bookmark   December 5, 2004 at 9:33AM
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Jando_1(Zone 5 IL)

Hi Tony,

You and I have the same problems with our streams. The stones look like they are just lying on top of the ground instead of being a part of the earth and make it look like the water has cut a path through it. Try to bury at least one third of the stone so they look natural. The stone bordering the stream should be partially under water. One thing that might help is do a google and look at lots of Japanese gardens with streams, notice how most of the stone intigrates with the earth. You may also notice the stone that is grouped together is of same color, texture and size.

Do a google for stone placements in Japanese Gardens and you should come up with some ideas. Or start a thread on just how one should place stones in the garden.

You might try and have something grow over the retaining wall and plants in front of it to soften the effect.

I can tell you have spent lots of time and hard work on your garden. It will take time but read again what Edzard has said and take the time and layout your garden on paper. Share the changes and ask more questions.

Good luck. Cheers Jando

    Bookmark   December 5, 2004 at 10:43AM
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Thanks to everyone, this is exactly what I'd hoped for, constructive critism.

I hope I've reduced the download on the photographs, the picture of the overall slope is still huge, but I'll get it fixed.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2004 at 10:48AM
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Tony - here's my 2c worth. Herb -

Click here

    Bookmark   December 5, 2004 at 1:13PM
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I went back and looked again at the stones. First off, many old masters in Japan study for years and years to learn how to place stones properly and never fully master the art. To be effective, i think that good stone placement requires a lot less stone. They're usually grouped in three's with appropriate sizes situated just right. Tall stone in the rear, smaller ones on front and as someone mentioned, a third of the stone buried to look natural. A proper stone arrangement should look like a distant mountain range and will look much more impressive standing alone in an open area.

On the yews, in the spring, trim the hell out of the them on top. Leave the rear alone and start cutting down towards the front. By the time you get to the front, you should be cutting bare branches having removed all the foilage towards the front. It'll look bad in the spring, but by summer that yew will be throwing off buds all over the place. And while you're at it, you can slope cut the yews down to the side as well to follow the conture of your hill. That would look great and don't worry about cutting too much, they respond well to drastic pruning.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2004 at 8:53PM
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edzard(3b Canada)

I would hesitate any specific suggestions since I do not understand the 'purpose' or concept of the garden. This would be very specific to pruning any of the shrubs to any form without understanding the context.

In mentioning template I did find what it reminded me of, being Josiah Conder's book, plate 14, XIV, being the Daimo of Mito's Garden in Honjo... which brings in the bridge in the same angle as the retaining wall. And the original suggestion was to face it with stone, however what pattern of drypack or ? is unknown based again on where this garden is or the concept behind it.
In the plate I would note that the seating is replaced by the Kasuga lantern, and the difference of scale is noted by the yukimi in the foreground. The stone setting itself is mountainous, and a bit upright, yet very much the Tokyo flavour.

again, I would suggest that -place, mountain, valley stream or wherever be determined to know what the pruning regimen and groundcover, shrubs, other trees be so that they fit in appropriately...
--where is this? what is the concept, or what will it be in time? where is it going?

    Bookmark   December 5, 2004 at 10:58PM
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Gardener_KS(zone 5 KS)

I like Herb's idea for the change in the roofed gate, which would look more authentic. I can see where you have planted junipers that will cascade over the retaining wall; as they mature, the wall won't catch your eye, so I think they are a good idea. The flat-top pruning of the yews could be changed for a more authentic look, and you might want to go for a bench with a simpler design. I think you are off to a great start. As the plants mature and fill more of the eye-level-and-above space, the plantings will have a different look. I think the garden mostly needs time to mature.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2004 at 7:11AM
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Thanks again to everyone. Herb, the photographs helped a lot (O' to be able to do all that photographic stuff). I'll be spending a lot of time looking at those pictures.(the gate will change for sure)
I have lots of things I can see need attention, so with a winter to plan and a summer to execute, I'm hopeful I'll be closer by this time next year.

It's obvious to me that I know just enough to get myself into trouble and not enough to get myself out of it.
To edzard's thought's I'm still trying to get my mind around the concept. I see this as a mountain stream (not unlike,albeit,much less impressive than I have seen in the Andes and I assume in Japan). The landscapes there varied from lush vegitation (Jungle) to rolling steep greenscapes to rock debris fields, often in short distances.
I fear my Michigan boulders are not as rough shaped as I might have liked but the're what I have and the guys that helped me put them in place probably wouldn't show up to pull them out :)

I'm thinking of replacing the cedar bridge with a simple stone (concete) bridge, to simplify. Any thoughts?


    Bookmark   December 6, 2004 at 9:31AM
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nachodaddy(quiet, I’m trying to meditate!)

Hi Tony;

It takes a lot of courage to post pictures on here and ask for criticism. You have made a huge step on a wonderful journey. We are both on the same path. Don't worry about "being in trouble". Just think of what you started as a lifelong pursuit of happiness (complete with chainsaws and tripods).

I like to take walks in the forest for planting inspiration and try to visit natural streams for water/stone inspiration. Also,try to see what others have done in your area. Pics are cool on the I-net but I find that they can be a little two dimensional. Try jgarden.org to see if there are some places you can visit locally and see them in wonderful 3-D. I like winter gazing. Garden looks stripped, you can really see the bones.

Concerning your retaining wall. I like the hard line. If you like the line as well too much planting above/below can soften it. Not old school but have you considered cement backerboard and phony stone? Easy to work with and if you find a texture and shape of stone you like, it's a good weekend project. After you put in the phony stone, you can soften/break up the line with select plantings above below.

I like the bridge. It stands out nicely. Just don't paint it red. LOL


    Bookmark   December 6, 2004 at 11:43AM
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edzard(3b Canada)

hmmm, 'trying to get my mind around the concept',..
so am I.
however you have alluded to perhaps part of the scenario. If this be the Andes, then bring out the photo's, and begin seeing the crevices, slopes, steepnesses, rivers and so forth. Begin to form the concept of where in the Andes. Then find the one common denominator unique to the sites, foliage texture-refraction, steepness of slope, trickles-torrents of water, or cloud formation around peaks-blinded by light,.. what?
Determine from where the perspective is that you are looking from. Airplane, up the slopes, down the slopes, from a trail down a vast chasm to a wall of green... what where.

What size? what scale? is it realtime stream? or is it a distant view stream? Is it 'looking down at a mountain tarn' pool or is it and ocean or is it a what???
make me feel what it is, so that I can see your vision as well.

begin using the stone such that it is seen as the bare stone cliffs with foliage beneath the cliff and foliage above (or as clouds). Or on angle as a ridge of peaks above green forest. The garden needs to be an evocation of 'somewhere', which is a concept..
Perhaps look at a photo and hold a clear glass plate in front of yourself. Note that you may change the plane of the glass, and that the photo stays much the same..... the glass is the shape or angle of your hillside and you only need to fill in spaces, (green or ? ) to equal that distance that is taken up on the glass that matches the vertical picture. Or if the photo was tilted the same angle as the glass, the picture would disappear. :. use the angle of the slope to recreate the vertical of the picture...

if the concept is finished, then the ability to design, install as a solution becomes possible. Iow's, if finite, parameters, then 'this' fits, yet 'that' does not. And that over there belongs over there, and that not at all and shall be removed, while that tree needs to do that job, for that purpose to carry the thought of 'the' (not your) artistic concept. (distance,.. like a musician playing only for himself, it is only understood by himself)
This then allows seeing beyond the individual items that comprise the whole.

stones in three's evoke Buddha, Fudo Myoo,.. normally only used once in a garden, not all over. The rest of the stones are to 'visually' support a main (triadic) installation.

... and I always need to tease and ask,.. what is authentic?
Auth'or = Auth'enticate, Auth'entic, though not accurately syllibic or phonetic, I am trying to draw attention to the root context. (authentes, establish authorship, author: originator of policy, document, art)
at times I wonder if duplicate is a better word choice than authentic as 'authentic'/genuine, seems to always lead to confusion.
As I note that Michael is not using real stone, however in thought it may be authentic, even if the pattern is not duplicated from Japan. His intent is authentic.
(think for a moment about restoring this garden in 55 years, the (documented) authentic stone used was phony stone. To restore to authentic (documentation), phony stone must be used, not real stone.)

Since nothing is authored in this garden, it does not relate to authentic...
details, schmeetales.. yet it will never be authentic, no matter the materials, since he has not authored it to be anything yet...
I still agree with Gardener, just not the word selection...

    Bookmark   December 6, 2004 at 3:13PM
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Hi. Lots of great information and ideas here. In your original post you say: "I'm not getting the 'Japanese Look' I'm searching for.".
When you think/say 'Japanese Look' what images do you see in your minds eye. What is in those images that is not in your garden? Or, conversely, what is in your garden that does not have a 'Japanese Look'?


    Bookmark   December 6, 2004 at 7:22PM
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Tony - here's another 2c worth. I quite like your lantern, but I feel it might look better somewhere away from the stream. Perhaps a smaller lantern, placed near the bridge like the one in the right hand picture would suit the stream? I wonder what other people think?
Click here

    Bookmark   December 6, 2004 at 7:45PM
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Cytania(UK Midlands)

Great photoshop job Herb. That lantern is a little elongated, is it homemade? Night want to try for a more classic look Tony but your 'tall' lantern could still do a neat job elswewhere. The other thing that strikes me is a lack of planting; just a few deft touches now, a fern or mondo grass. Give it a year or so for moss to grow and the stone to age.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2004 at 1:16AM
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Gregoryjohn, The look/feel I'm not getting is the lush fullness and sense of stillness/quietness/solitude that I see in many Japanese landscapes.

I like the idea of moving/eliminating the lantern and using a smaller one (maybe more traditional)either at the bridge or by the pond.

Cytania, the current lantern wasn't home made, it's got what I describe as a very contemporary look to it and I liked it's simple design, but I can see a need for a more classical lantern.
As far as the planting goes, I'm still adding to it. I put in the rocks, then the primary trees and am contemplating the smaller 'softer' elements (grasses/ferns/mosses) to full in the spaces (or maybe create softer spaces). I'm not really in a hurry there, I know that a couple of years of growth will bring a huge change in the appearance and thus the feel.
What I was hoping for (and have received in spades here, thanks to everyone's input) were thoughts/ideas before everything matures too much, making it more difficult to fix and loosing several seasons in the process.


    Bookmark   December 7, 2004 at 9:08AM
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I'll try to respond to your posting Edzard, as best I know how anyway. You've given me lots to think about.

I'll be the first to admit, I didn't have a concept when I put this garden together, merely using the site and materials available to create a "picture" as I saw it. Further the photograph of the slope was taken not from one of the 2 (maybe 3) primary viewing points but composed to show as much of the overall slope as possible (in retrospect, probably the wrong thing to do)...

If I'm understanding you correctly (bear with me here, it's what I'm trying to learn)the garden should reproduce an "actual place" even if that "place" is a composite of several places with features of that place represented by garden "elements", eg, "pillowy" cedars representing clouds or rocks in the pond representing an island? I take it the place I ought to be trying to create would conform most specifically from a given viewing point and might be less of a satisfactory reproduction from a different viewing point?

I have a couple of questions that revolve around these ideas.

Can dissimilar "places" be portrayed in the garden?, By that I mean if one views the waterfall from viewing point A as a representation of a vertical mountain w'fall, would one be able to represent a lake or ocean when viewed from Viewing point B. Although they are all embraced in the one garden, they might depict two very distinct places from different viewing-points?


    Bookmark   December 7, 2004 at 9:37AM
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edzard(3b Canada)

thank you for attempting to understand what is undoubtably not well expressed.
Stroll gardens are the typology of the different places seen along a path in the same garden that may be dissimilar. Another way of expressing that concept is that any bridge auto matically represents 'the other side' = that far over there... other land. one side of many gardens is japan proper and then over the bridge the pruning changes, stone etc. to be China, or other places.

Places are real in the designers mind, not necessarily the viewers mind. Yet yes, they are real places geographically in the beginning stages of understanding and more abstract later in the seasoned designers mind.

Given that you are attempting a more difficult construction in having one location to do 2 or more jobs, this will always add complexity which invariably does not allow for simplicity, silence, and such manifestations to be felt.
yet, yes, one side may be one concept and the other another concept. Just be very very careful in selecting the right stone, the right shrub or tree. Be careful about blocking any views that leak one thought in to the next.
iow's, yes the waterfall is seen oblique as best position to feel 'of mountain' and then the other view would need to show only the placidness of lake, or the stillness of ocean.
Then all materials used, shaped, would need to ensure that the viewer is grtavitated to each site at the appropriate viewing times in season or shadow of day.
hope this clarifies somewhat the endless solutions available...
p.s., the empty, the serene, the stillness, is brought into the garden by the Mu composition. This can be done on many scales.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2004 at 12:27PM
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I like your concept of authorship. I never thought of it that way - it makes sense and it makes conceptualizing easier for me and I also like this statement "think for a moment about restoring this garden in 55 years". This puts a lot a context on it for me. This helps further define my goal in my efforts.

To strive for a garden worth restoring in 55 years puts substance in the concept, gives it foundation and reason. I can start to see your message.


    Bookmark   December 7, 2004 at 12:31PM
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I'd like to ask two more question and then I'll sit down and try to absorb and develope from all this wonderful input.

Micheal mentioned fake rock using cement board, could you expand on techniques using cement board.
I envision that using cement board over the retaining wall will probably lead me into squarer more angular rocks (probably more in keeping with what's needed) but vastly different from the "Michigan Boulders" I have in place. Any thoughts how to integrate the two?


    Bookmark   December 7, 2004 at 5:07PM
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nachodaddy(quiet, I’m trying to meditate!)


Google "manufactured stone" and you will find a wealth of info on what I like to call "phony stone". Basically they are concrete products that simulate a wide variety of stones and shapes. I am willing to bet you will find something close to what you have now.... Here is one site (picked randomly)



    Bookmark   December 8, 2004 at 12:34AM
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nachodaddy(quiet, I’m trying to meditate!)


Another one of my strange thoughts (as related to stroll gardens)......

Think of Disneyland as one huge stroll garden. You start walking and you go from one "land" to another. Now if you look really close, you can see when one ends and one begins but if you are like me by the time you are almost out of Fantasyland you are running towards the Fastpass at Space Mountain. In a Japanese Garden sense, the designer does this by coercing the stroller not to dawdle but to move to the next view. This is done visually most times but it is kinda cool when it can be done by smell (I'm a sucker for Wisteria in the spring) or by sound (you can hear a stream but can't really see it, must.....find.... stream......)

Back to D-Land. Note the strategic location of bridges (Edzard's "other side") between the lands. Not coincidence. There are almost always bathrooms, benches, and overpriced soft drinks at these transitions. They want you to stop. In a Japanese Garden sense, you kill two birds with one stone. You sit on the stone, to your left is what you just left, to your right is where you are going and right in front of you is a nice transitionary view which makes you forget what you just left. Back to D-Land. You are entering Frontierland via a bridge but you stop to look at the maniacs coming off of Splash Mountain just before you get in line for the Country Bear Jamboree. Makes you forget that you just got off of Pirates of the Carribean.

I just messed up your next trip to D-Land but give those Imagineers a lot of credit. They start with a plan in a static sense and they have taken great pains to either keep you moving or slow you down. They amplify complimentary views and dull down conflicting views. Same thing happens in a Japanese Garden.

Which begets the question to all........... In a stroll garden (not a dining room window) do you start with the "lands" first and build the paths or build the paths first and fill in the "lands" later??????

No Mickey Jizos please


    Bookmark   December 8, 2004 at 2:19AM
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kobold(Vancouver BC)

Tony, for "fake rock" check out Hypertufa Forum, different postings, there is one " 120 feet retaining wall", can help.


    Bookmark   December 8, 2004 at 3:04AM
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mark_nova(6/7 Snst32 AHS7)

There is a view in one photo that I particularly like--the pond, the bridge and the upper waterfall. I like the way the curve of the bridge sticks slightly up from the 'mountainous' landscape (looks like it could be over a 'gorge'), and that it has a tall waterfall (nicely done with one big rock) above it in the higher area of the mountains, with smaller waterfalls closer to the pond, echoing a natural flow of steeper-to-more-gradual from a mountain down to a lake. Is this a view that you will somehow attempt to emphasize?
It's interesting also to look at the pond from above (where the liner shows) and from a distance (where just the stones of the shallow part, and a darker deep part show).
I've learned from the photos and the comments--thanks to all!

    Bookmark   December 8, 2004 at 11:00AM
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ScottReil_GD(z5 CT)

Nacho, interesting that you used Disney as an example I was just saying to a friend the other day that there is a classic example of every garden form on the planet to be found at Disney and not a gardener on the planet who could not learn a thing or two looking around. It IS a small world after all...:)))

Tony you have done the hard part in asking for help, and I believe you have come to the right place for it. Better minds than mine are already hard at work on the problem so I withhold judgement and comment (unlikely as it may seem to some...) and wish you best with your project (I don't think it's as bad off as you think; just needs tweaking...)


    Bookmark   December 14, 2004 at 5:19PM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

Why haven't you brought the garden into the lawn? It's probably just a matter of time.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2004 at 10:35PM
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Gorfram(7b W Oregon)

Just an odd thought...

Tony, my addmittedly incomplete skim of this thread leaves me with the impression you fear that your michigan boulders aren't right, and that you need more angular boulders to recreate the Andean/Japanese feel you're trying for?

If so, then perhaps it would be easier and more sucessful, on a rolling hillside in Michigan, to create a rolling hillside garden than a high mountains garden.

Not that it needs to be flat or streamless, but perhaps you could look around the local lakeside bluffs and slopes for models of nature more easily integrated to your site?

Japanese garden call strongly for a sense of place, and an integration with their surroundings, that might be part of the factor your garden needs.

(Or else I could just be all wet :)

- Evelyn

    Bookmark   December 14, 2004 at 11:06PM
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Botann, The area of the pond and around WAS lawn,but one of the thoughts that have been spinning thru' my head is that more lawn (below the retaining wall) will end up as part of the garden.
Evelyn, your exactly right on the Michigan boulders, I do fear they are not quiet right and I really like your idea of local slopes and bluffs as a "model"

I've taken to the library to accumulate some images and it is my intention to give myself some slow-soak time, before I commit myself to major re-design.

Thanks to everyone here I have a lot to think about and I'm looking forward to the planning this winter and the execution in spring and summer.


    Bookmark   December 15, 2004 at 8:12AM
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Just thought I'd try my hand at a little 'touch up'

enjoy! :)


Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   December 24, 2004 at 1:27PM
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Mozart2(Zone 5 Michigan)

Tony C:

It is very late in the evening and I am too tired to read all of the responses in your post, but I wanted to at least post something in the wee hours of the morning.

The Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis is well noted for having the largest Japanese Garden in the continental United States and is also noted for its Japanese Festival held over the labor day weekend.

If you link to the site below, you find that there are various links to take you to the international gardens located within this wonderful gem - one of which is the Japanese Garden.

While these links will provide some "inspiration", there is nothing like a 2 day visit to this outstanding garden. While I currently live in northwestern Michigan, I was born, bred, and lived for more than 5 decades on the Illinois prairie, where I was able to visit this garden more frequently.

If you plan to head in that direction and are the type of person who enjoys staying at a bed & breakfast, I recommend that you contact Maggies Bed & Breakfast in Collinsville, Illinois. She is a retired Librarian who has traveled in the far east via freighters and other means of transportion. Her rates are reasonable, the conversation is excellent and the breakfast are very delicious.

If you're a person who enjoys staying at a motel/hotel, there are several excellent choices in the Collinsville, IL area. Collinsville is located very close to one of the Interstate Highways leading into St. Louis and the MBO - not too far west on I-44 - is about a short 15 to 20 minute drive.

Hope this information is somewhat helpful and/or inspiring.


Here is a link that might be useful: Missouri Botanical Garden - Virtual Tour - International Gardens

    Bookmark   November 4, 2005 at 12:27AM
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Tony, I can't read all the comments above right now so forgive if I repeat someone's words. The two main issues that strike me are how the garden is presented behind a bulkhead wall. Could you let the garden flow down into the existing lawn - and let the lawn flow up into the garden? Also, my preference in a garden this size is more undulating terrain. While you have a slope, it is all the same slope. Perhaps break it up with small valleys, cross slope dry creek, larg focal point stone arrangements, even flat areas carved in for special destinations.

Hope it helps!


    Bookmark   November 6, 2005 at 11:19AM
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Your garden looks and "feels" western because you landscaped it. Even with the finest stones and trained materials you would have the same empty feeling if you used the same planting and installing mentality. To me Japanese Gardens are more like paintings and poetry. The suggestion that it should be a journey is good as is the sense of place. This is your fantasy should you can draw inspiration from places you love and Japanese gardens you have visted.
In a Japanese Garden everything is related and all space plays a role. Trees and stones have "fronts" and "backs". You have a site with great potential, use features. Add to some areas and take away from others. Create scenes and areas of interest. Take all views into consideration and "dial in" all elements. Contrast and complement. Vary heights, textures,flat and raised areas. Good luck Grasshopper!

    Bookmark   November 25, 2005 at 10:06AM
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