Tag Archives: Japanese Gardens

KotoJazz 88: Dry Creek Rocks

A dry creek is often preferred over a creek with flowing water. It provides the visual effect of flowing water, and doesn’t require the maintenance of a flowing stream. In this case, using black creek rocks offer a striking color contrast to the green ground covers.

The sound of flowing water can be experienced by adding a simple recycling water feature, such as the mini waterfall toward the back of this mini garden.

This landscaper uses a few types of flowering ground covers along the black dry creek in the foreground accented with Japanese maples in the background.

There are three types of Japanese maples featured here. Two Japanese purple lace maples in the foreground and far rear and the canopy created by the taller green moonlight maple in the center.  Variegated hostas, an azalea, tulips, a calla lily, and mock bamboos offer nice fill ins for variety and balance.

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What makes a Japanese garden ?

From garden paths to architecture, fences, gravel patterns, and types of plants, this website details key distinctions of what makes a Japanese garden-

http://www.japanesegardens.jp/

 

Seattle’s Biospheres – Exclusive Connection to Nature?

Because “Amazon employees need connection to nature” (geekwire quote). Yes. We all need connection to nature; it connects us to ourselves. Hopefully, parts of it will be accessible to the general public –

http://www.geekwire.com/2016/amazon-biospheres-will-happen-inside-giant-glass-orbs-company-building/

The most recent news as of July 26 by the Seattle Times is that there will only be opportunities for public visits. Specifics  are not yet available. Generally, the space is closed to the public, though much can be viewed from the street.

 posted from WordPress for Windows Phone

Wildlife and Nature Pictures – A True Respite from the Daily Grind

I find refuge and inspiration of the photos of the “Wildlife and Nature Pictures” website on Facebook. As a pretty new member of Facebook, I highly recommend this site for viewing all the beauty of nature that the world has to offer. Here is a picture of a corridor of blooming pink Cherry blossom trees in Japan:

KotoJazz 80: Mini Garden Simplicity

Here is a mini garden I started below a pink flowering dogwood that blooms fabulously in the spring (see picture below). In the tradition of Japanese gardens, the intent is to create patterns of paradise scenes often seen in the natural world. I spent a total of $7-8. Much of the splendor of this garden will not be fully seen until next year or the following year when the plants have fully grounded into their new homes [also, the strawberries on the right (photo above) will need to be replaced by moss or ground cover].

Pat'sDogwood

This mini garden features a simple rock creek flowing down from the a tall stone representing a mountain. The “mountain” stone is surrounded by large rocks or rounded mountains/ front range hills leading up to the cathedral- like mountain. Flowing from the “mountain” stones is the dry creek rock bed, with the visual effect of a true flowing mountain stream of water. Note that at each turn there are larger stones which is common in creeks. These help re-direct or guide the creek in another direction, reinforcing the natural occurrences seen in nature. The dry creek spreads wide at its base, suggesting it has reached more level ground, or perhaps a lake.

The white lantern is placed on the side of the hill surrounding by sheet moss I found in shaded areas of the yard. In the spring, I plan to add a stunning gorgeous version of moss toward the background area called the hair cap moss. There are two transplanted ferns, one in front of the lantern, and one behind the stone mountain. Though hardly noticeable today, these ferns will show a full display of leaves next spring into summer. The fern in the foreground is a common tassel fern which will experience minimal growth in size, while the sword fern I planted behind the mountain stone will grow to a size potentially twice the height and size of the mountain stone.

Other plants include a few strawberry plants in the foreground (not recommended; these were pre-existing plants placed there by the owner) and a spider flower to the left which flowers a resplendent deep purple in the late spring to early summer, and is now passed its prime and going dormant for the fall season. Also to the left showing simple iris-like leaves is the common orange crocosmia, which grows naturally throughout the Pacific Northwest. Finally, for effect, I planted the Acorus cascading yellow grass. The acorus next year will be a bright yellow cascade that will contrast nicely with this shaded area. There are two in the foreground. These are off shoots, so will not show their true cascading splendor until next summer.

KotoJazz 79: Japanese Ferns

The most popular of Japanese ferns is the Japanese Painted Ferns (Athyrium niponicum). The fern is known for its resplendent silvery green to misty light blue and maroon colored leaves. The silver green fern leaves meld into a light maroon to purple color toward the center of each fern leaf. It flourishes in a moist, partial to full shade environment. They are ideal for shaded walk ways as ground cover, garden accents, and any foreground features, as they normally do not grow very large nor tall (at most 18-24 inches). Once it takes hold in a garden, it becomes relatively low maintenance so long as it is planted in a nicely shaded area, such as the foreground of a Japanese maple tree.

Koto Jazz 73: Kubota Gardens

Spring into Summer has sprung and it’s time to visit your favorite outdoor places! The Kubota family created a stunning beautiful Japanese garden with mountainous waterfall landscapes, serene koi ponds, and a Zen garden in South Seattle. It is a gardens where many of my musical pieces were first inspired (Kubota Birds Water Dance and Raindrops Fall from Trees, for example). To me, the legacy leaves us much more. Fujitaro and family, including Tak and Tom, were interned at the Minidoka camp in Idaho during World War II, and came home to Seattle to say “I forgive” by presenting the City of Seattle with one of the premiere Japanese gardens in the Northwest. It is the former home of the Kubota family and their landscape business. Kubota Gardens may be the largest Japanese garden in North America and offers 22 acres of rolling hills, natural springs, and hiking/ walking trails, and of course, beautiful landscaped gardens. More information is available at http://www.kubotagarden.org/.

KotoJazz 67: Spacing in Gardens

Probably the most well known concept around spacing in gardens is Mel Bartholomew’s “Square Foot Gardening”. This first and foremost applies to vegetable gardens, but can be applicable to spacing in ornamental gardens as well. Here is an exploration of spacing for garden designs.

All plants ornamental or otherwise, need space to grow, and a minimum of twelve inches apart is generally a good growing space principal. Open spaces are critical, especially in dry Zen gardens where open spaces represent the open sea. In Japanese gardens, open spaces are often the center piece of Japanese gardens, while plants and stones provide the backdrop or outline.

Koto Jazz 64: Balance in Japanese Gardens

Japanese gardens seek to bring out the balance of the natural world. A key intent of Japanese gardens today is to replicate the natural world in smaller spaces; re-creating miniaturized versions of serene natural landscapes. In that re-creation, there are a few principles that bring across that image of balance, such as boundaries and regions that reflect the natural world.

Boundaries include regions divided by grass areas, or dry gravel areas. These can be divided by pathways, borders, or water. These borders can be rounded or straight edged, but remain consistently one or the other within the same region. These also include water borders, such as waterfalls, dry creek beds, flowing streams, ponds, and lakes.

A common number to create balance in the garden is the use of threes- three stones or three clumps of grasses. As a general rule, taller trees and plants are placed in the background, while shorter plants such as ornamental grasses and flowering plants are placed in the foreground.

So long as the plants create a natural flowing space, the garden can be minimalist with very little foliage, or it can be lush with carefully placed grasses and flowering plants and shrubs. Both can be accented with lanterns in the foreground, or off to the side.

A taller Japanese maple tree is always a good background for either approach, as are tall pogodas.

Koto Jazz 59: Stones & Rock Gardens

The Way of Zen and Zen values of simplicity (kanso), naturalness (shizo), and refined elegance are similar values expressed in the Japanese garden, and defines Japanese rock gardens. Stones and rocks derive from the natural banks of rivers and creeks. They provide accents for distinctive garden areas, including walkways, waterfall bases, creek borders, ponds and lakes, and garden sections. Rocks and pebbles of rock gardens are raked into patterns of flowing streams, undulating waves, and accents around larger stone island or bonsai trees, and other features. Other patterns can be checkered or angled or alternating lines.

Large feature stones are grouped by themselves or they are grouped in threes with a taller boulder standing regally behind two shorter boulders, presenting balance. All three stones are generally vertical, with the taller stone in the center representing The Buddha (one who has become enlightened), and the two other stones on each side representing two Bodhisattvas (one who is “bound for enlightenment; the two stones are called sanson). They are placed next to water, a body of water or water feature, as images of water features, natural hills and/or mountain scenes.

Bodies of water are represented in the Japanese garden by a pond or lake. In the case of dry Zen rock gardens where sand and gravel represent the sea or ocean, the stones would be placed next to or in the sand/ pebble garden. The scene of ocean and sea occupying the majority of the garden space (“chisen”) originates from China, as does the garden aesthetic and spirituality of Zen Buddhism. Groups of rocks on one or more sides of the body of water in the garden may represent the seashore.

KotoJazz 54: Song Stories – Kubota Birds Rain Dance

Kubota Gardens sits on 20+ acres of Seattle City Park space in South Seattle, and has a range of walking, light hiking trails, including Japanese gardens landscape designed by Tom Kubota and family. (See Kubota Gardens history.)

Of the dozens of Japanese gardens all over the Asia Pacific and the U.S. that I’ve seen, Kubota Gardens is among the most nicely diverse Japanese gardens in the world, featuring traditional tea garden designs, bonsai pine pavilion, and even a Zen garden. While it’s intended to support a large volume of visitors it distinctly features both natural water springs and gorgeous waterfalls cascading into numerous ponds and inlets.

Though written just a week ago, my Kubota Water Dance tunes (to be recorded shortly) was inspired in this special space during the early spring season of 2014 underneath a lace Japanese maple with exposed leaf-free, winding, twisting green moss- clothed branches. Chickadees were frivolously doing a water dance — chirping and dancing under the maple tree on a drizzly cool day, and occasionally stopping for a droplet on the green moss or branches.

Koto Jazz 45: Water Garden Ponds

Ike (池), or garden pond, has been accepted as an assumed part of the Japanese gardens, symbolizing a larger body of water, such as the sea or ocean. There are no restriction as to the size a pond can be; it really depends upon space availability. The pond or still body of water in a garden originates from China, where it is thought to represent feminine elements in the natural world, or the “yin” of yin-yang. Adding koi to the pond may presents a dramatic natural feel to wataer garden.

The spiritual pond or body of water, or kami-ike (divine ponds), represents the Japanese Shinto spiritual belief that the pond in Japanese gardens are sacred. It has been a special place of prayer and meditation. As mentioned in KotoJazz 9: Islands of Japanese Gardens, the scene of ocean and sea occupying the majority of the garden space (“chisen”) originates from China. Groups of rocks on one or more sides of the body of water in the garden may represent the image of a seashore and/or mountains. If an island or stone island is placed in the pond, it represents a special divine place from where the kami came hahaguni (妣国).

The pond is the centerpiece of numerous other Japanese garden features, including the following:]

  • Koto Jazz 24: Waterfalls/
  • Koto Jazz 40: Stream Gardens
  • KotoJazz 9: Islands of Japanese Gardens
  • Koto Jazz 18: Japanese Garden Bridges
  • Koto Jazz 7: Water, Water Everywhere
  • Koto Jazz 41: Duality

    Everything in life can have its duality.

    Personally, it’s engrained in my blood and DNA. I am bi-racial, bi-cultural, once bilingual (not currently), and definitely bi-spiritual, among others.

    In addition to “bi-“, there’s a duality in general, a duality of perspectives, a duality of existence. There is a duality in the political arena, a duality in social arenas too.  You walk down the street and some people are more interested in suburban convenience and others are more interested in access to the entertainment, arts and culture that the big city provides. There is a duality of east and west. There is a duality in science- one that believes in a supreme order and the other believes that all sources of life derive from chaos and chaos theory.

    For me,  the great experience of life is its collision of the unknown into a synthesis of something more, which in its social form could be the defining characteristic we call “the great American experiment”. It doesn’t offer answers to the unknown, but it does offer freedom from needing to have answers. It is in the “process” of life that we achieve complete immersion in the present moment; that we achieve “understanding” which is quite different from “knowing”. Knowing has definition and finality; understanding neither seeks nor achieves either.

    In gardening, the minimalist Zen garden contrasts with what we can call “maximalist” English garden. The maximalist English garden style offers a plethora of colors and floral varieties; mostly perennials. I love low maintenance, constantly flowering perennials (see the above photo)! At the same time, too much variety and color can be overwhelming.

    On the other end of the gardening spectrum is the minimalist Zen garden. Again, a minimalist Japanese Zen influence can be settling with the scene of open space, simplicity and elegance. It offers room for the eye to appreciate the simple elegance of a single stone, a purple iris, or bonsai tree. It offers the opportunity for the mind to experience space, and fill the gaps with one’s own creative options conjured up in their own minds; and yes, even freedom from the need to fill in the space and find the beauty in open, uncluttered, undefined space.

    In music, Koto jazz is in itself a bi-cultural duality. It proposes a piano synthesis of eastern influences sounds, melodies, and themes with western style jazz embellishments, rhythm and beat. Traditional Japanese nationals and westerners may be offended by their perceived in-authenticity of koto jazz as it takes from the purity of traditional music and modernizes it with new sounds, rhythm, and embellishments. In these cases, koto jazz music is not a fit for them. For those interested in exploring this duality in music and collision of two cultures and musical styles, koto jazz is an ideal genre for you.

    Koto Jazz 38: Japanese Maple Varieties

    There are hundreds of varieties of Japanese maples. They tend to be divided into dwarf, green leaf, red leaf, and large tree varieties. The Japanese maple tree often refers to maple tree cultivars from Acer palmatum, Acer japonicum, and Acer shirasawanum. Japanese maple varieties feature feathery and weeping brightly colorful leaves that turn to even more resplendent colors in the fall.


    Acer Palmatum, Higasayama Japanese Maple

    The dwarf Japanese maple has predominantly yellow leaves with occasional pink pointed ends. In the fall, the Japanese maple leaves turns brilliant orange-red colors. The Higasayama dwarf maple has pink buds in the spring that spread into shades of cream, pinkish, and/or green.


    Dwarf Japanese Maple

    The Green Cascade Japanese maple is a mid-sized maple tree with drooping green leaves that turn to deep orange- red in the fall.

    The Autumn Moon Maple and Moonlight Maple varieties show a brilliant golden color, which can turn into bright orange, pink and red in the fall.


    Moonlight Maple

    Hogyoku is a sturdy green leaf variety. It is also a mid-sized maple that grow to 15-feet. From a fairly pedestrian green, it can turn to glorious yellow, orange and red colors in the fall. It handles the heat better than most Japanese maples.

    Beni Kawa is another Japanese green leaf maple variety, although these smaller, lighter leaves bring out a delicate, lighter green color as well. It thrives in colder weather than the Hyogoku, which is one of the few Japanese maples that withstands a hot climate.


    Beni Kawa Japanese Maple

    The Katsura maple is likewise a small leaved, light, pale yellow-orange when emerging. Toward the summer, leaves turn light yellow green, then yellow into orange in the fall.

    The Emperor Japanese maple varieties are also mid-sized trees that are named for their deep red or purple colors.


    Emperor Japanese Maple

    Another popular reddish- purple variety is the lace maple, such as the Bloodgood and Burgundy lace, which feature the reddish weeping feathery leaves.


    Bloodgood Japanese Maple

    The tall Red Filigree lace maple retains its reddish purple color throughout the summer and turns a bright crimson in fall. Overall look is of the weeping effect of the dissectum along with fine twigs.

    The Sango-kaku or Coral Bark maple has a light green throughout the spring into summer seasons, and then a bright yellow glow, even pinkish in the fall. After the leaves fall off the tree, the unique bright red coral bark is highlighted.


    Sango-kaku, Coral Bark Maple

    KotoJazz 26: Water Basins

    Short and wide water basins are for the humble, literally. Water basins of this type moves the user to bend down to the earth in humility to wash or drink the water. Most all Japanese water basins are made of stone and serve both a functional and aesthetic purpose. Like the stone basin pictured above, this Japanese tsukubai water basin can be placed in a dry pool bed of black pebbles for distinctive visual effect. Originating from Buddhist purification basins (called chozubachi), water basins were used to cleanse the temple visitor before entering a Buddhist temple. This is also true of Shinto shrines, and during preparation for traditional Japanese tea ceremonies. A Japanese tea garden ladle is often used to scoop up water from the stone basin to drink or wash hands.

    The kiku (chrysanthemum) granite water basin is popular among the stone basins, as it is shaped like a chrysanthemum flower. To add to the aesthetic beauty, the most common way to add the image and sound of flowing or trickling water is by adding a bamboo kakei water spout (as pictured above). Kakei in this case can mean beautiful view or flowing water system.

    Here are a few pieces about flowing water and water basins:

    Nagare: Stream/ Flow, by Satomi Saeki

    Drawing Water From a Mountain Stream, by Elizabeth Falconer

    Koto Jazz: Kuriku Iwa No Hamon (Ripples On Creek Rocks)- by Kenji (short sample)

    Koto Jazz: Rain drops from Trees, by Kenji

    Koto Salad, by Chin Chin

    The Sound of Water, by Izumi Fujikawa

    The Room: The Water Basin, by Bennett Lerner

    Where Peaceful Water flow, by Chris De Burgh

    Medicine Waters Flow, by Albert Tenaya