Starting with a Water Garden

Gardening is one of our primordial fascinations. For thousands of years humans have gardened and for most of that time a major part of our diet came out of our gardens. As we became better at feeding ourselves, we also gained the time to indulge in activities that weren’t directly linked to our very survival. Flowers, ornamental shrubs, decorative trees all became a part of gardening for beauty and pleasure.

Water is a source of life. We are actually composed of 50 to 70 percent water and without water we can die in hours or a few days – far faster than from lack of food. Throughout history, water has been a necessity, even a source of warfare. We find comfort in sights and sounds associated with water, whether the source is the sea, a lake, river, stream or pond. I believe that the sense of comfort and relaxation most of us feel around water is deeply embedded in our being.

Water gardens of various kinds have a long history. From elaborate fountains with statuary to the simplest aquarium (yes, I include aquariums as a form of water garden despite the usual focus on the critters rather than the overall concept), water gardening is an ancient activity.

Currently, water gardening is considered a new trend for some reason. I’d guess this has to do partly with advances in technology, the widening availability of pre-constructed ponds and pumping systems, a growing awareness of the alternative forms gardens can take, and the fact that presenting something as new and trendy often improves sales.

Water gardening can be done using waterfalls and streams, ponds, fountains, and containers of various kinds some of which are as simple as a small indoor fountain with a recycling pump. The variety goes on and on and most can be further enhanced through using rock work combinations, various types of lighting both above and below the water surface (or behind a waterfall), plants, and, of course, fish or other water dwellers.

Water gardening doesn’t require a pond or natural water source either. It can consist of just a plastic tub, basically anything that can hold water. Many garden supply outlets can provide anything from the most basic setup to incredibly sophisticated water gardens consisting of waterfalls, pools and streams (with or without bridges).

The very first thing to consider is your budget since that will place some limits on how ambitious a project you can undertake. Water gardening can get expensive if you decide on a big garden full of plants, rocks, fish, and lights. Next you need to consider how much space you have available for a water garden. You probably won’t want a 15 foot waterfall with a 200 foot stream and a half acre pond in a suburban backyard. Be reasonable in what you choose as a first project, but also keep in mind the possibility of extending your water garden later. Size also affects the amount of maintenance your water garden will require.

If you plan to include fish and plants, you’ll want to choose a location with sufficient direct sunlight. Remember that if the garden is located close to trees and bushes, leaves and debris will end up in the water and need to be cleaned out regularly.

When you choose aquatic plants, don’t forget that the plants should, at most, cover about half of the water. Plants can be free floating, submerged, or marginal (near or at the edges). The types you choose are up to you. Some may be good for their scent, some are simply beautiful, and some plants provide more oxygen than others which helps keep the pool healthy. As well as being pleasant to watch, fish will assist in keeping debris to a minimum and in insect control.

Algae can be a major difficulty in water gardening. Most frequently, the problem results from having too many nutrients in the water either from fish food or plant fertilizer. Proper construction, feeding and fertilizing will keep algae to a minimum. Chemicals can be used to reduce algae but they can also kill fish and plants.

Like everything else, garden pools need to be maintained throughout the year. And it really doesn’t matter what size they are, even small ones will need care. However, with proper planning you can balance the living and decorative features of a water garden both to simplify and minimize your maintenance tasks.

You can eliminate algae through reducing the nutrients that cause algal growth by cutting back on feeding and fertilizing, adding more plants, putting in a filter system, or replacing existing water with fresh water. Chemicals are generally not recommended since overuse can kill.

An intriguing new method of algae control is through the use of ultrasonic waves. The use of ultrasound to destroy algae can be traced back to the early experiments with sonar for detecting submarines when it was discovered that some micro organisms were destroyed by ultrasonic waves. Transducers developed to control algae will not harm humans, animals, fish or aquatic plants. (They can also be used for swimming pools).

If your garden lacks a natural continuous water supply, you have a situation much like an aquarium. You will need to monitor both water quality and water level. Keep in mind that in many locations, tap water contains chlorine and a large amount should not be directly added to water containing fish (and some plants). Allowing tap water to stand in an open container for at least 24 hours will normally eliminate the problem. Closed systems will require added water as the surface water evaporates. A large water garden that relies on tap water and which contains fish and plants, should probably have small quantities of water added daily. For water gardens without circulating, aerated, or filtered water, maintaining water quality may be more difficult.

Still, water gardening really doesn’t take any more time than regular gardening and could well take less time once you have it set up and have your maintenance tasks well organized. It is different, however, so while you may not be able to grow anything but weeds in dirt, you might be superb at water gardening. As a hobby and a way to beautify your landscape, water gardening is excellent. And there’s nothing quite like the sound and sight of water to calm and relax you after the stresses of modern life.

Designing Your Garden

Garden design is a very personal thing and is often an expression of your personality. What I like you, you may not and vise versa. Some people like neat and tidy gardens where there are no surprises, others love the thrill of windy paths, lots of different plant material and not knowing what is around the corner. There are three main styles of gardens formal, semi formal and informal. They can then be divided into many types of gardens and that depends on what you would like. Garden design can be intimately tidied to the style of your house as in example of the grand french chateaux where the geometric patterns of the garden mimic the geometric construction of the house or it can have no connection to your house at all.

Some people are lucky and have this innate gift of knowing how to design space, making it a pleasing place to be in. Others don’t have this gene and find it very difficult to visualise how the space will work. To create a good design it is important you understand that design is about managing space and people moving around it. The core of good garden design centres round patterns and the space within these patterns. By using geometrical shapes, circles, triangles, rectangles etc. you can achieve a unified feel to your garden. So you need to think about ground patterns and movement around your garden. Where would you like people to go? Ground patterns can be achieved with the use of bricks, paving and plant material such as cut grass etc.

Formal gardens are symmetrical and geometrical and are strict in terms of repeating patterns and plant materials on either side. It is very controlled, plants are clipped, shaped, manipulated regularly and today is often suitable for small gardens like court yards. Urns, balustrades, stone, gravel paths, parterres, formal pools and framed views are all part of the formal garden. There are no surprises, you know what to expect.

Informal designs are asymmetrical and not as regimented. Plant material is allowed to spill over the structural elements such as walls, steps and paths. Plant material is allowed to self-seed and wander around the garden. Informal garden design is softer, full of surprises thus you don’t know what to expect.

And semi formal is the combination of the above two. Usually it is the built structures such as retaining walls, paths and steps that are formal and the informal element is the plant material which is allowed to spill over them, softening their hard outlines.

Within these three types, there are many different styles of gardens to choose from such as contemporary, Japanese, Mediterranean, cottage, courtyard, kitchen garden or secret garden.

Contemporary is a modern style that likes to reflect the surrounding but also use a wide range of plant material. Form and texture of foliage are as important as flowers. Hard landscaping is woven into geometrical shaped buildings; all of which flow into the wider landscape. Plants are used as focal points to highlight the architectural forms.

Cottage was a late nineteenth-century ideal to return to the simple cottages of the country. They were planted with hardy bulbs, flowers, fruit bushes and herbs and vegetables. They were geometric, colours were harmonised and luxurious as plants grew well as they were heavily manured regularly.

Mediterranean is not limited to one particular area but are defined according to hot summers and low rainfall. They encompass entertaining areas, shade, good views and dramatic shadows. Hot colourful plants are used and lots of lush green foliage plants to create a cool atmosphere. Plants need to be drought tolerant. Evergreen plants are popular because they cast shade on hot days. Walls are white washed to reflect the sun, pergolas built to create shade and use terracotta pots. There is often a water feature and water provides cooling vibes.

Japanese gardens encompasses religion and Japan’s cultural history. Japanese gardens are very symbolic often the symbols relate to nature. Plants are ‘tamed’ and there is an emphasis on evergreen trees and shrubs. They are very controlled and often minimalist. True Japanese gardens are contemplative a place of meditation and great calm.

Planning

If you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start when designing your garden, I suggest you break it up into areas called rooms thus dividing one big space into several smaller spaces. For example: there is the front garden, the side garden and the back garden. Once you have decided where they begin and end you can then divide each of those areas up again. For example in the back garden you could have the entertaining area, the grass/children’s area, the utilities area (includes the compost heap and shed), the pool area and the vegetable/orchard area. Once you have defined the areas/rooms you can tackle one at a time, thus making a huge project into several smaller projects.

The Three Planning Stages

To create an interesting and exciting garden there are 3 sets of plans (may be four if you need an engineer’s structural plans) you need to devise:- Site Analysis Plan, Concept Plan and Planting Plan, usually all drawn to scale.

The First Steps

To design a garden that works there are several things you need to do before buying plants and planting them. If you follow these steps you are more likely to have a successful garden.

Site Analysis

It is important to make an inventory of the area you are designing. Things to include are:

Levels – steep/flat
Aspect – North/south
Sun/shade
Sun Summer/Winter
Shadows
Existing trees and buildings
Wind
Views – good and bad
Soil conditions
Entrances – Front/back doors
Power lines
Underground cables and pipes
Clothes line
Fences
Sheds and garages
Paved and unpaved areas
Patio/BBQ
Lighting
Drainage – runoff of storm watered

Once you have noted the above, it is time to draw up the space. You can draw it roughly (not to scale) but eventually you will have to draw it to scale. Start by measuring the area you are designing, draw it to scale ie. 1:100 and put all the above points onto your drawn plan. All these influences need to be drawn on paper, so that you can gauge any trends. For example there might be a paved path from the back door to the garage, but everyone takes a short cut across the lawn, creating a desire line. No – one uses the paved path. So perhaps pave the desire line and make it the official path.

The next step is the concept plan and this is the plan where you put down you ideas. It can be as wild and as adventurous as you like. Forget cost, enjoy your creativity. This is the stage where you put down your dreams of what you have always wanted. Later on, you hip pocket will decide for you whether you can have them. Anything is possible, so don’t be shy, dream away. Again this can be roughly drawn or to scale, it is up to you.

The third and final plan is the planting plan and it is preferable that it is drawn to scale as this allows you to know exactly how many plants you will need. It incorporates all the ideas you have decided upon and shows you how the finished garden is going to look. It is the road map which will guide you to building your new garden.

There may be a fourth plan if your site is steep or you are having major elements built, as you may need the advice of an engineer.

Points to Consider

Think about your soil conditions, is it heavy clay or light and sandy? What plants will grow in these conditions? Are some areas boggy and some always dry?

Sun conditions

The sun is higher in the sky during spring and summer and shadows are shorter. Whereas in winter, the sun is lower in the sky and casts longer shadows. So a plant might be in full sun in summer and complete shade in winter. Can it tolerate this? Also think about the conditions the plants require. Are they full sun plants like roses or shade loving plants like azaleas?

Wind

You also need to think about wind direction. Which way does the prevailing wind come from? Screens and hedges are one way of managing this problem but what problems are they going to cause? Making the block feel narrow, casting shadows etc? It is important to know because some plants don’t like wind and it is no good putting the BBQ/entertainment area in an uncomfortable spot.

Views

Views out your window or from your garden are very important. Some are intrusive while others are desired. If you wish to block out flats/neighbours etc. you may need to put in a higher fence or a hedging screen of some kind. Or you may want to design your garden to enhance the view of the mountain, ocean etc.

Utilities and Service Lines

You also need to be aware where your services and utilities are; things like clothesline, overhead power lines etc. If you damage the gas, telephone or electricity lines, you are liable to pay for their repair.

Principles of Garden Design

To create a well designed garden, it is important to put the right plant in the right position. This means considering the cultural requirements of the plant. For example putting a full sun plant such as rose into a shady position isn’t going to work, because the rose won’t be receiving the right amount of sunlight for it to grow. The idea of good garden design is to follow this philosophy, using the placement of plants to create mystery, tension and surprise by using tricks of the eye, colours and textures.

Tension, mystery and surprise make a garden interesting. One way to create these is to use hedges, low walls, screens, paths, steps to make individual ‘garden rooms’ with tension points that captures your attention on the way. For example a narrow oblong garden can be made more interesting if you can’t see the back fence – that there is a feature (plant or statue etc.) that obscures the fence. It also becomes more interesting if the path way is narrow then opens up into another room. A winding path adds mystery to the garden if you can’t see what is around the corner. Surprise comes when you go around the corner and discover a focal point.

A focal point is something like a seat/statue/water feature that leads your eye directly to it. For example – a pergola that has a statue at the end of it. The statue is the feature and is the reason why you look/walk to see it. Another example of a focal point is a pathway leading through a door that is open and shows a vista of the wider landscape.

The success of the focal point can depend on the how successfully the ground patterns lead you there. If the paving encourages you along this path thus creating some tension and mystery, you are more likely to follow the path to see what’s there because you have become inquisitive. Narrow paths encourage you to walk quickly and not to dilly dally along the way, where as wide paths say stroll, take you time, look at the surrounding vegetation. A gentle curve can be negotiated at speed, but a tight curve can’t be so people slow down as there is risk involved. Paving is used as a directional tool says don’t walk that way, but walk this way. Edging bricks say don’t step over this – this is a boundary. Paving can also be used to reflect the ground plane of the house or other shapes in the garden.

Long narrow gardens have a strong directional emphasis that needs to be broken up. Square plots are static. To solve these problems the space’s shape needs to be changed. A circular design distracts the eye from the straight lines of the boundary fence. You could also use a series of rectangles using the boundaries as part of the design.

Another method is to turn the garden onto a 45 degree angle. A long diagonal line will immediately create a feeling of space. The paving near the house could be done on an angle and high light the diagonal line of the entire garden.

Gardens with a dog-leg in them can utilise the bend by using tension, mystery and surprise to lead you around the corner to a focal point of some kind.

Unified space is created by controlling the movement around the garden. It is the way areas are linked together by paths, bridges, pergolas, steps and terraces that determine whether a garden is successful. Careless placing can ruin the flow of the garden. If you wish to direct someone’s attention to a particular point then there must be a clear reason in the design for following this pathway.

Ground levels are very important when designing a garden. If a slope is too steep to walk down safely, steps may be needed and if the entire block is on a slope, the whole area may need to be terraced. What material you use is also important. Steps should not be of slippery materials and gravel may wash away. The surfaces need to be flat otherwise they could be dangerous and people will not want to walk along them and instead they may create a desire lines.

Levels help to create interest and ‘rooms’ in a garden because you move from one place to another by steps/paths/etc. Allow your levels to gently flow into one another and keep them simple. Don’t over decorate them. A slope up from the house will appear foreshortened whereas a slope down from the house will appear larger.

Choosing Plant Materials

There are 3 types of gardens:- the plants man, the garden designer and the gardener’s (mix of the first two). The plants man gardens consist of lots of singular plantings, unconnected and often rare and difficult to source. The garden designer’s garden consists of plants that are tried and tested – they use plants that they know and how they perform. The gardener’s garden has learned that their favourite plants can be more effective if planted in a scheme.

When choosing plants you must consider what the conditions are of your garden. There is no point putting alkaline tolerant plants in acid soil or vise versa. It won’t work! You need to think about what your plants you have chosen require moist soils, dry soils, shade, sun, well drained, boggy soils. If you do your research correctly and place your plants in the right position, you are well on the way to a successful garden.

The height and spread of your plants also needs to be considered. Tall growing plants are placed at the back of the garden bed, graduating down to the low plants. Remember some plants send up flower spikes that may be much larger than the plant itself, so they need to be positioned according to their flower spike height. Some plants are bushy so don’t forget to leave sufficient room for them to spread. They may need annual pruning to keep them in check.

Colour

Another trick in the designing tool bag is using colour. Colour is the sensation of illumination which is light. The way colours inter-react with each other depends on their position in colour wheel. Manipulating colour is great fun and can create all sorts of illusions. Colours are divided into 2 groups primary red, yellow, blue and secondary green, violet, orange. Secondary colours are made of combining two primary such as mixing blue and yellow together to create green. You can make a space look cold or create distance by using pale and brown colours. You can also make a space looker bigger than it really is by using warm colours such as oranges, reds or yellows. If you want to make a space look closer to you, again use warm colours. As reds, oranges or yellow are very busy colours to the eye, it is a good idea to intersperse white flowers or grey foliage plants to calm the visual scene down. White and grey also intensify blue and pale colours.

One thing to remember about the Australia sun is that the best time to look at our gardens is in the late afternoon when the sunlight is not as strong. Our hot sun tends to fade our flowers colours and the glare at mid-day tends to wash the colour out.

If you are feeling overwhelmed about designing your garden, divide your space up and take it slowly, completing one section at a time. Don’t start another part until you have finished the section you are working on and very soon you will have a beautiful garden. Remember gardens are ephemeral, it is a process that is for ever evolving. You never really finish.

Ways to Be a Great Gardener

Every Gardener knows how important it is to take time to reflect on ways in which you can improve the performance. Gardeners are observant people and as such, they can scrutinize, monitor, and take different signals from the plants so as to make a determination on whether the plants are the way they need to be.

Most professional gardeners make use of approaches that are idiosyncratic, so as to give the gardens everything they need. There are many tips that can help you be the best gardener and they include:

Design

Form and texture are more important than the color. The atmosphere and space are also very important. If you notice that the shrubs have no space below, you may need some pruning. You need to think about the design of your space and decide on what you should plant there and in what quantities.

Sowing

This is a very important part of growing a garden. When you sow your seeds, you need to water them using some warm water. Avoid using the ice-cold water as it ends up delaying the germination. After they germinate, it is important that you only handle the seedlings using the leaves since they are tougher than stems at this point.

Planting

When you are planting, then you need to think about every aspect of the process so as not to affect your plants negatively. Make sure you plant in the correct soil combination.

If you have the funds for it, then a greenhouse is definitely an amazing idea and definitely worth a try. Even a greenhouse that is not heated extends your season for growing your own good and increasing the summers. A greenhouse can be an invaluable addition to the garden as it can help you extend the range in the most incredible ways.

For real gardeners, it is important to listen to your own mood and do what you think should be done to improve the garden. You should choose the ideal time to move the plants as long as there is enough soil, shade, and a water source. This is what allows the plants to establish even more quickly.

It is important to act early. For example, if you feel young tree is not located in the ideal point, and then you need to move it early. Do not wait until such a tree has already matured so as to start thinking of ways to deal with it.

Vegetables

If you chose to grow your vegetables in pots, it is important to have a shade so as to slow down the bolting. You can use mulch to stop weeds from invading the vegetable area and this works well too. You need to consider which vegetables grow together. Doing this helps you make the most of the gardening experience by easing processes like pollination and so on.

Pests

Understanding pests is also a part of good gardening. There are some pests that will play dead if they are disturbed. It is important to stay alert and notice any changes in your plants. A good gardener always finds a way to deal with pest and diseases at all times so as to improve yield.

How To Grow Shiitake Logs In A Home Garden

Shiitake logs that are grown at home have superior taste along with appearance and texture when compared with the commercially available products. With a bit of knowledge about growing logs and effort, you can grow this product in the home garden. Depending on the capability and need you can start the plan of growing logs. In the beginning, you need a space that is allocated for this purpose. The cultivation of logs is one of the most important things to know for which you need logs of specific sizes. To make the log moist you must allow staying them in the water for a few days.

Identifying the log

This is another important step that comprises the process of growing shiitake. For Shiitake Logs you have to identify the best and get them from hardwood trees that are freshly cut. While the specifications of logs can change, you can cut them into suitable sizes to achieve your target. There are different trees from which you can cut sections of logs for Shiitake Spawns but make sure that you consult a professional with adequate experience to know the things in entirety. Buying mushroom logs for sale is another idea on which you can rely to enhance the production. It is the quality of the log that can boost the growth of mushroom. Once you have finished the process of getting the Shiitake Mushroom Logs you will be able to grow mushrooms on them for a long time. Logs need to be left for some time to allow the fungicides to die before you move on to the next step.

Buying and stuffing the spawn

Next is the step to get shiitake mushroom spawn whether in the form of sawdust, plugs or thimbles. There are a lot of online portals selling spawns needed for shiitake mushrooms offering different strains and varied characteristics. For each log, you will need a certain number of spawns. After this, you will need to drill holes in the logs and the entire thing is to be done around the circumference of the log. You have to plug spawn in the holes. After filling the holes with spawns you have to cover them with good quality wax which is food grade such as beeswax to avoid contamination.

Keeping the logs

You have to stack the logs against something or lay them on the ground, preferably on a bed of straw. Ideally, the place in which the logs are placed must be shady. However, air circulation must be proper and if there is scanty rainfall in the area, you can keep the logs moist. As a matter of fact, this is the trickiest part of growing shiitake mushroom on the logs. You might have to go through a few steps of trial and error before getting it right.

Growth of mushroom

Finally, the shiitake mushrooms will grow on the logs within a period of six to twelve months. If you are lucky enough the production can continue until springtime. You can expect the growth for about three to four years until the cellulose of the log is consumed fully and prepare for commercial selling if you want.

Build a Rain Garden

There’s a new garden in town. It is (mostly) easy to install, looks good year-round, requires almost no maintenance and has a terrifically upbeat impact on the environment. No wonder rain gardens are such a great new gardening trend!

Storm water runoff can be a big problem in summer during heavy thunderstorms. As the water rushes across roofs and driveways, it picks up oil and other pollutants. Municipal storm water treatment plants often can’t handle the deluge of water, and in many locations the untreated water ends up in natural waterways. The EPA estimates as much as 70 percent of the pollution in our streams, rivers, and lakes is carried there by storm water! By taking responsibility for the rainwater that falls on your own roof and driveway, you’ll be helping to protect our rivers, streams and lakes from stormwater pollution.

To reduce the excess water runoff, many towns are encouraging businesses and homeowners to install rain gardens in their yards. Rain gardens are specially constructed gardens located in low areas of a yard where storm water can collect. The idea is to have the water naturally funnel to this garden. The rain garden collects water runoff and stores and filters it until it can be slowly absorbed by the soil. Rather than rushing off into a storm sewer or a local waterway, the rainwater can collect in a garden where it will be naturally filtered by plants and soil.

Installing a rain garden is easy.

You simply dig a shallow depression in your yard and plant it with native grasses and wildflowers; things that are easy to grow and maintain in your area.

What makes a garden a rain garden?

First, the garden will be designed with a low spot in the middle to collect and absorb rain water and snow melt. This depression can range from a few inches in a small garden, to an excavated trough that’s several feet deep. Second, rain gardens are usually located where they’ll catch the runoff from impermeable surfaces like sidewalks and driveways, or from gutters and roof valleys. Third, rain gardens are usually planted with native wildflowers and grasses that will thrive in tough growing conditions. Finally, rain gardens are designed to channel heavy rains to another rain garden or to another part of the garden.

Your rain garden should be located at least 10 feet from the house. The garden’s size and location depends on the yard. The ideal situation would be to locate the garden in a natural depression. You also can funnel water from downspouts on gutters into the garden. The soil should be well drained so the water doesn’t sit in the garden for more than two days. A special “rain garden” soil mix of 50 to 60 percent sand, 20 to 30 percent topsoil, and 20 to 30 percent compost is recommended. You can dig this mixture into the soil to depth of 2 feet before planting.

Once you’ve identified the new garden’s location, remove the sod and dig a shallow depression approximately 6-inches deep. Slope the sides gradually from the outside edge to the deepest area. Use the soil that you remove to build up a slightly raised area on the lowest side of the garden. This berm will help contain the stormwater and allow it to percolate slowly through the rain garden.

If your rain garden is no more than about 6-inches deep, stormwater will usually be absorbed within a one- to seven-day period. Because mosquitoes require seven to 10 days to lay and hatch their eggs, this will help you avoid mosquito problems.

Your downspout or sump pump outlet should be directed toward your rain garden depression. This can be accomplished by a natural slope, by digging a shallow swale, or by piping the runoff directly to the garden through a buried 4″ diameter plastic drain tile.

Plant Selection… The final touch.

The most difficult part of building a rain garden (if it can even be called that) can be plant selection. Plants need to be tough enough to withstand periodic flooding, yet attractive enough to look good in the garden. Deep-rooted, low-care native plants, such as asters, and tough non-natives, such as daylilies, are best. If properly designed, the rain garden can consist of a blend of attractive shrubs, perennials, trees, and ground covers. Planting strips of grass around the garden and using mulch also can help filter the water.

New plants should be watered every other day for the first two weeks or so. Once they are well established, your garden should thrive without additional watering. Fertilizers will not be necessary, and only minimal weeding will be needed after the first summer of growth.

Gardening For Personal Growth

One of the hottest jobs to emerge during the past few years is coaching, already a booming business before the economic downturn. Recently, the recession has been driving the market toward personal and career coaching, but the newest big idea to hit this type of paid mentoring is meaning coaching. Because meaning originates from inside ourselves, not from the outside world, the ability to construct a meaningful life depends upon our capacity and willingness to take positive actions to incorporate into our lives those aspects of life that we personally value, including gardening.

By connecting the transformational power of gardening to the choices that gardeners make, a gardener-centric coach can help them create personal spaces that are not only beautiful and healthy, but also provide a sanctuary from the world that speaks to their souls.

Making our own meaning encompasses the thought, energy, emotion, time, money, and commitment we’re willing to expend in the service of bringing our own dreams into reality. In the context of gardening, this means tuning in to why we feel our view of gardening is important and asserting that to be a sufficient reason to garden in our own way.

For example, one gardener gave herself no credit for the multitude of gardening decisions she had made over the course of 30 years. After a tour of the garden and some discussion with a gardener coach, her view of her garden and her place within it had completely changed, in half an hour. Within three months, her ability to stick to her own priorities skyrocketed.

Similarly, a person who cares deeply about the impact of chemicals on groundwater will not be comfortable having a lawn service spray pesticides on a regular schedule, if at all. A vegan who is growing her own vegetables will want to know the exact source and composition of any compost she uses.

Gardener coaching is different from garden coaching

Garden coaches made a big splash when they came on the scene about five years ago. They’ve been covered by The New York Times and other national newspapers, and radio and television networks. Garden coaching concentrates on horticultural knowledge and the mechanical skills of growing plants.

Gardener coaching focuses instead on the personal growth of gardeners in order to help them reach a mental space that allows them to develop an intimate, holistic relationship with their land. Through a series of personalized assignments and exercises gardeners can learn how to rediscover and focus on the things that really matter to them about their gardens, restore meaning to their gardening efforts, and revitalize a cherished pastime.

Garden coaching is by its nature local, so that the coach can physically go to the garden. But a gardener coach can work with anyone anywhere in the world. All clients need is a mode of communication and some pictures of their garden. Computers and digital cameras make it all very easy.

Medical practitioners and landscape designers have been dancing around the link between plants and people for decades. Research shows that having hospital rooms that face a garden quickens patient recovery, so hospitals construct them that way because it works. But such patients are passive onlookers; not participants. Instead, hospitals need to open an avenue through which patients, staff, and visitors can interact with the garden on terms that are meaningful to them. This is somewhat different from horticultural therapy programs in which gardening is used as the means to accomplish specific physical or mental therapy goals.

Similarly, landscape designers understand that some people experience a spiritual boost in gardens that are intended to evoke a certain mood. Gardeners will react to the design in their own distinctive ways. But not every gardener will have a similar reaction to a specific design, because ‘spiritual’ means different things to different people.

The secret to opening this path to everyone is to approach it by involving people in an intimate and meaningful way from the very beginning.

When can gardener-centric coaching help?T

here are different milestones in gardeners’ lives when gardener-focused coaching can breathe new life into an established hobby, regardless of the gardener’s level of expertise:

  • To bring another perspective to experienced gardeners who have gotten stuck in their progress.
  • When gardeners want to learn how to better express their own creativity and personality through gardening.
  • To build confidence in shaping the direction taken by professionals they employ.
  • When they want someone who will hold them accountable for working towards their goals on a regular basis.
  • For assistance in figuring out themes, periods, styles, etc., that match the gardener’s personality and values.
  • To inject new vitality when gardening starts to feel dull and uninteresting, and
  • For novice gardeners who often don’t know where to start.

We all want to believe we can do things on our own, but it’s a whole lot easier when someone else takes us out of our normal mental and physical space and helps us see with new eyes.

Lois is a regional field editor and location scout for Better Homes and Gardens, Special Interest Media, a garden writer, and a gardener-centric meaning coach who enjoys visiting other people’s gardens, as well as working in her own. Lois’ articles have appeared in Nature’s Garden, Garden Rooms, Garden, Deck and Landscape, Garden Ideas and Outdoor Living, Horticulture, and Do It Yourself magazines. She was a contributing editor to Decorating Solutions for four years and her articles have also appeared in trade, in-house corporate, specialty news, and professional publications. Lois is a member of Garden Writers of America.

While executive director of The Sussex County Arts & Heritage Council, she launched the council’s countywide Town & Country Garden Tour and wrote a local newspaper column, Culturally Conscious. She served on her local environmental commission for nine years, on the planning board for four years, and on the open space committee for three. Through her work, she advocates gardening and land management practices that reconnect people to the Earth.

Creating Ambiance With Gardens

During his 40-year career as a garden writer and photographer, Derek Fell has designed numerous garden spaces, many involving his wife Carolyn. The best example of their work can be seen at their home, historic Cedaridge Farm, in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. There, they have designed more than twenty theme areas, including shade gardens, sunny perennial borders, tapestry gardens involving trees and shrubs, a cottage garden, herb garden, cutting garden and an ambitious water garden.

Derek worked as a consultant on garden design to the White House during the Gerald Ford Administration. Derek designed Ford’s ‘Win’ garden, following his ‘Win Speech’, advising the nation ten ways to fight inflation.

Many garden designs by Derek Fell have been implemented without inspecting the site. The great late architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed beautiful homes for his clients, entirely from photographs without the need for a site inspection.

Fell’s garden spaces have been featured in newspapers, magazines, books and also on television, including Architectural Digest, Gardens Illustrated, The Garden (the magazine of the Royal Horticultural Society), Country Gardens, HGTV, QVC and PBS.

Derek has authored more than sixty books and garden calendars, including 550 Home Landscaping Ideas (Simon & Schuster), The Encyclopedia of Garden Design (Firefly Books), The Complete Garden Planning Manual (Friedman), Garden Accents (Henry Holt) and Home Landscaping (Simon & Schuster).

Curb appeal and ambiance are important to brighten up your propoerty or prepare it for sale. Feel free to ask Derek any garden related questions regardless of how big or small.

SOME GARDEN TYPES

Water Garden. Water is the music of nature. It can be tricked over stones, cascaded from a great height so its crashes onto rocks. It can fall in a solid sheet or as silver threads. A beautiful water garden with waterfalls and stepping stones can be located in sunlight or shade. The water garden shown here is located at Cedaridge Farm. It includes a pool for dipping, and it features both a collection of koi and hardy water lilies. A popular water garden design features a koi pool fed by a series of waterfalls, and the water re-circulated through filters to keep the water clear.

Sunny Perennial Border. This can be formal or informal, square, rectangular, round and kidney shaped, in the form of an island bed or backed against a decorative hedge, wall or fence. Plants can be chosen to produce a parade of color through all the seasons, or concentrated for a particular season. Color themes can be polychromatic like a rainbow, monochromatic (for example all white – perfect for a wedding), or it can feature an Impressionist color harmony, such as yellow and purple; orange and blue; red, pink and silver; blue, pink and white; even black and white or black and orange (one of Monet’s favorites). A popular perennial garden design is two parallel border with a grass path leading to a focal point such as a sculpture or gazebo.

Tropical Garden. You do not need to live in a frost-free area to have a beautiful tropical garden. At Cedaridge Farm we have two – one is a tribute to the design philosophy of the late Roberto Burle Marx, who designed dramatic tropical gardens around Rio. It is in a lightly shaded area and features plants that are hardy (like ‘Sum & Substance’ hosta) but look tropical and tender plants that are tender (like banana trees and tree ferns) that either need moving indoors during winter or can be discarded like annuals at the end of the season. Our second tropical space is a patio with tropical plants grown in containers.

Shade Gardens. We design two kinds of shade gardens – one where the plants provide mostly foliage interest (like ferns, hostas, heuchera and hakone grass), and plants that flower well (like impatiens, coleus, and lilies), or a combination of the two.

Woodland Garden. Whether you have existing woodland or you need to create a woodland from scratch, the result can be sensational. Decide whether you want deciduous trees that provide fall color or evergreens that stay green all winter, or a mixture. At Cedaridge we made a ‘cathedral’ garden where the existing trees are trimmed high so the trunks look like the columns of a cathedral, and the branches arch out to meet overhead like the vaulted ceiling of a cathedral. Below, we provide two more layers of interest, at ground level and the under-story.

Vegetable Garden. We can design you an easy-care garden of raised beds where vegetables are planted in blocks or an edible landscape where edibles are grown for ornamental effect. We can provide the plan for a garden that was approved for the White house during the Ford Administration where Derek Fell worked as a garden consultant. Derek Fell’s book, “Vegetables – How to Select, Grow & Enjoy”, won a best book award from the Garden Writers Association.

Herb Garden. The herb garden at Cedaridge Farm is a ‘quadrant design’, feature in numerous calendars and books, including Derek Fell’s ‘Herb Gardening for Beginners.’ We can also provide a cartwheel design or a parterre herb garden for bountiful harvests of fresh herbs. The Herb Garden can also do double-duty as a vegetable garden.

Cutting Garden. The cutting garden at Cedaridge Farm features bulbs such as tulips and daffodils for spring, and ever-blooming annuals to follow the bulbs so armloads of flowers can be harvested from April through October.

Victorian Garden. A garden with romantic overtones! Imagine a white gazebo framed by mostly white flowers for a wedding in the family. Or choose from among several color harmonies, such as yellow and blue, red, pink and silver, or blue, pink and white.

Cottage Garden. You don’t need a cottage to have a cottage garden. But if you do, such as a guest cottage, why not wrap it in shrub roses and climbers, plus those delightful English cottage garden plants like poppies, sunflowers and pinks. We also like to include plants to attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

Stream Garden. Lucky you if you have an existing stream to be landscaped. At Cedaridge Farm we have a stream, but when we moved here it was overgrown with poison ivy and brambles. Today it is criss-crossed with bridges, and beds of moisture-loving plants like astilbe and water iris. If you don’t have a stream, but would like one, we can create a design where the water is re-circulated along one that’s man-made but looks natural.

Orchard. You don’t need a lot of space for a productive orchard. By making the right choices, fruit trees can be grown in containers or espaliered against fences and walls to save space. Peaches and apples can be trained over arbors. Just a few plants of small fruits like strawberries and raspberries can be highly productive.

Bog Garden. Ideal for soils that tend to remain moist all season, bog gardens can be extremely colorful and highly imaginative, incorporating stepping stones and bridges to cross wet areas, and growing some of nature’s most diverse plant families, such as water iris, Japanese primroses, astilbe and waterlilies.

Japanese Garden. The problem with many Japanese gardens is a tendency to use pseudo-Japanese elements such as Chinese dragons. Derek Fell has twice traveled to Japan, has written award-winning articles about Japanese garden design, and has the experience to design authentic-looking spaces in the Japanese tradition using elements of Zen or Feng Shui, or a combination of the two disciplines to create a magical space.

Italian Garden. Although Italian gardens can be highly ostentatious, requiring steep slopes to achieve the best effect, like the Villa d’Este, near Rome, small spaces can achieve the aura of an Italian garden. Derek Fell has not only visited some of the finest Italian Gardens, such as La Mortola on the Italian coast, and Boboli overlooking Florence, he has toured and photographed the Vatican Gardens.

French Formal Garden. The elaborate style of Versailles Palace and Vaux le Vicompte, may be beyond your means, but elements of French garden design, such as a parterre garden, can be incorporated in small spaces.

Monet’s Garden. This beautiful artist’s garden north of Paris contains more than a hundred special planting ideas to create what Monet considered his greatest work of art. Moreover, his planting ideas have undoubtedly inspired more new garden design than any other garden. Monet’s arched bridge, his waterlily pond, his arches leading to the entrance of his house, and his color harmonies are just some examples of Monet’s innovation that people today like to emulate.

Tapestry Garden (Trees & Shrubs). The great French Impressionist artist, Paul Cezanne’s garden, in Provence, is composed mostly of trees and shrubs, not only as a labor saving device, but to provide a tapestry of color from leaf colors, leaf texture and leaf shapes. What could be more appealing than to look out of a window of your home at a rich foliage panorama, including all shades of green from light green to dark-green, plus blue, silver, gold, bronze?

Hillside Garden. Even dry hillsides can make beautiful rock gardens, with paths twisting and turning in a zig-zag to create a visual adventure from the top of the slope to the bottom. They can be terraced and threaded with streams to create waterfalls and planted with some of nature’s most beautiful plant forms. Bridges, benches and belvedere are some of the structural elements that can add interest to a hillside.

How to Deal With Dandelions

History:

Dandelions are herbs and have been around for millions of years. The Chinese mention this herb in the early 7th century and the Arabian doctors did not get around to the Dandelions until the 10th century. The dandelion is classed as an herb and for centuries was part of herb gardens.

Soil Type:

Dandelions need sun and light soil to grow well, however they will grow in any type of soil partially recently disturbed soil. So, having deserted the herb garden you will find them everywhere and how they relish it.

How they spread:

After they flower, they produce a seed head that blows on the wind or even a slight breeze. It has been estimated that a seed will travel up to a hundred miles. How they worked that one out, I have no idea. What I do know is that last autumn we had sand on our cars here in Oxford that had blown over from North Africa, so anything is possible. Dandelions are a master of endurance and you may be dismayed of never getting rid of them. However, they are ways of controlling them.

Iron Resolve

Getting rid of Dandelions must be treated as warfare with its goal: total annihilation of the plant. You must approach the task with a harshness and iron will, ferociously obliterating the Dandelion in your garden

How To Control Dandelions:

If they are in your lawn, you may think to your self: I will mow them to death. However, what happens is the dandelion just grow shorter. Keeps it head down, in other words. It was Darwin himself who first noticed this. So mowing is a no goer.

If you are into spraying chemicals, “Roundup” is the best. However, do be aware that “Roundup” will kill any thing that it touches and that includes Oak trees. So when you use it make sure that they is no wind at all.

Pouring boiling water will kill dandelions. You must make sure that you have enough boiling water to soak the plant, root and all. You should see results of this within four hours. The leaves will start to go brown.

Make a mixture of Isopropyl alcohol, that is rubbing alcohol, which can be bought at your local pharmacies. Mix two tablespoons of alcohol with two pints of water: put it in a spray bottle and spray until the Dandelion is dripping wet. The best time of the day to do this is midday on a hot afternoon. The plant will show signs of withering within two hours.

I use a mixture of vinegar and water. The mixture is: two pints of vinegar with a dash of liquid soap and two tablespoons of lemon juice. I put this in a hand help spray bottle and spray dandelions when ever I see them. The plant will die, never to return. However, others will spring up else where in the garden.

Dandelion are very easy to dig out.

The main way of controlling Dandelions is to never let the flowers turn into seed heads.

It Is Not All Bad:

Like every plant, Dandelion does have many uses, none of which I have tried.

Apart from using the leaves in salad one of the more useful ones in my view is extracting rubber from the plant to make tires for motor cars. Yes, you read it right:

Dandelions contain rubber, however before you rush out to your garden you may want to know that British plants do not contain enough to make it worth while. It is the Dandelion grown in Russian that contain the rubber.The milky sap is found in the root of the plant.

Two Perfect Additions To Your Garden

Not only are these native plants a beautiful addition to any garden, they provide a sense of place. Below you will find two perfect additions to your garden:

Byrsonima Lucida (Locust Berry)

Locust Berry is a Florida native small tree or shrub, typically 5 – 15 feet tall, but can grow taller. It has an irregular, rounded or flat-topped, moderately dense crown.

Trunks are usually short, with numerous ascending branches; bark thin, pale brown. Often a host to epiphytes.

Leaves are green or blue-green, evergreen, opposite or sub opposite, leathery, smooth, glossy above but dull below and 1 – 1 1/2 inches long.

Flowers borne in clusters, showy blooms change color from white to pink to crimson, and attract butterflies.

Fruits are round, 1/2 inch long, pea-sized, fleshy, green ripening to red and attract birds. Fruits are edible and persist on the tree.

The plant is grown from seed. Bark and fruits have medicinal use. Locust berry is adapted to different types of well-drained soils; it benefits from pruning. Usually not affected by pests.

In addition to its value as a land reclamation plant, locust berry’s handsome foliage, flowers and fruits, make it effective as specimen plant, screen, border planting and native plant species for parks and gardens. It is threatened in the wild in Florida because of habitat loss.

Coccothrinax Argentata (Florida Silver Palm, Silver Thatch Palm)

The Florida Silver Palm is but one of about 50 species of coccothrinax palms originating from the west Indian region. The species name argentata means silvery.

Its native habitat is pine rock lands and coastal hammocks; wild palms are threatened and rare in the wild in florida.

This palm is typically 8 feet or less in height, but it can reach 30 feet under ideal conditions. The slender trunk has its upper portion covered with webbed fibers. It has an open crown of large deeply divided fan-shaped leaves, up to 3 feet wide, with drooping segments.

Leaves are dark green above and silvery white below, presenting a striking appearance when they move in the wind.

Fragrant flowers are borne in white clusters, producing purple to black fruits about 3/8 inch in diameter, eaten by birds.

It can be grown from seed. This palm does well in poorer soils providing they are well-drained and prefers open sites

Leaves can be used to weave baskets. In landscapes, the palm is a handsome accent or specimen plant and can withstand coastal exposure to salt and wind.

The Basics of Japanese Gardening

postThings to keep in mind for a beautiful garden

Main principles on the garden’s design

Bring the Japanese feeling into your garden with these basic steps. First of all, embrace the ideal of nature. That means, keep things in your garden as natural as possible, avoiding to include things that could disrupt this natural appearance.

For example, don’t include square ponds in your design as square ponds are nowhere to be found in nature. Also, a waterfall would be something closer to what exists in nature if we compare it to a fountain. So you also have to consider the Japanese concept of sumi or balance. Because one of Japanese gardening design main purposes is to recreate large landscapes even in the smallest place. Be careful when choosing the elements for your garden, because you don’t want to end up filling your ten by ten courtyard with huge rocks.

As a miniaturized landscape, the rocks in the garden would represent mountains and the ponds would represent lakes. A space filled with sand would represent an ocean. By that we assume that garden masters were looking to achieve a minimalistic approach, best represented by the phrase “less is more”.

The elements of time and space

One of the things westerners notice at first are the many portions of empty space in the garden. In fact, these spaces are an important feature in Japanese gardening. This space called ma, relates to the elements around it and that also surround it. The concepts of in and yo are of vital importance here, they are best known to the Western civilization by the Chinese names yin and yang. If you want to have something you have to start with having nothing. This is an idea quite difficult to understand, but it is a rule of thumb in Japanese gardening.

An important clue in the development of a garden is the concept of wabi and sabi. There’s no literal English translation for those words. Wabi is about uniqueness, or the essence of something; a close literal translation is solitary. Sabi deals with the definition of time or the ideal image of something; the closest definition might be time strengthened character. Given the case, a cement lantern that might appear unique, would lack of that ideal image. Or an old rock covered in lichens would have no wabi if it’s just a round boulder. That’s why it is important to find that balance.

Ma and wabi/sabi are connected to the concepts of space and time. When it comes to seasons, the garden must show the special character of each one. Japanese garden lovers dedicate time to their gardens every season, unlike the western gardener who deserts in fall just to be seen again in spring.

A very relaxing view in spring is given by the bright green of new buds and the blossoms of the azaleas. In summer, the lush foliage in combination with the pond offer a powerful and fresh image. The vivid spectacle of the brilliant colors of dying leaves in fall are a prelude for the arrival of winter and its white shroud of snow.

The two most important gardening seasons in Japan are spring and winter. Japanese refer to the snow accumulated on braches as Sekku or snow blossoms. Yukimi, or the snow viewing lantern, is another typical element of the Japanese garden in winter. The sleep of the garden in winter is an important episode for our Japanese gardener, while for the western gardener spring is the beginning of the work at the garden. Maybe because of the eastern point of view as death like part of the life cycle, or perhaps the western fear to death.

About garden enclosures
Let’s see the garden as a microcosm of nature. If we’re looking for the garden to be a true retreat, we have to ‘set it apart’ from the outside world. Because of that, fences and gates are important components of the Japanese garden.

The fence and the gates have both symbolism and functionality. The worries and concerns of our daily life have to stay out of this separate world that becomes the garden. The fence protects us from the outside world and the gate is the threshold where we leave our daily worries and then prepare ourselves to confront the real world again.

The use of fences is based in the concept of hide/reveal or Miegakure. Fence styles are very simple and are put in combination with screen planting, thus not giving many clues of what hides inside. You can give a sample look of your garden by cutting a small window in the solid wall that encloses your garden if that’s the case. Sode-gaki, or sleeve fences, are fences attached to an architectural structure, that will only show a specific view of the garden from inside the house. Thus, we’re invited to get into the garden and enjoy it in its entirety. That’s what makes the true understanding of the garden, to lose in it our sense of time and self.

Basic Arrangements
Despite the fact that certain rules are applied to each individual garden, don’t think that there’s just one type of garden. There are three basic styles that differ by setting and purpose.

Hill and Pond Garden (Chisen-Kaiyu-skiki)
A China imported classic style. A pond or a space filled with raked gravel fronts a hill (or hills). This style always represents mountainous places and commonly makes use of vegetation indigenous to the mountains. Stroll gardens commonly use this style.

Flat Garden (Hiraniwa)
It derives from the use of open, flat spaces in front of temples and palaces for ceremonies. This is an appropriate style for contemplation and that represents a seashore area (with the use of the right plants). This is a style frequently used in courtyards.

Tea Gardens (Rojiniwa)
Function has a greater importance than form in this type of garden. The Roji or dewy path, is the main point of the garden, along with the pond and the gates. This would be the exception to the rule. The simple and sparse plantings give a rustic feeling to the garden.

Formality has to be taken in consideration
Hill and pond and flat styles may be shin (formal), gyo (intermediate) or so (informal). Formal styles were to be found usually at temples or palaces, intermediate styles were suitable for most residences, and the informal style was used in peasant huts and mountain retreats. The tea garden is the one that always fits in the informal style.

The garden components

Rocks (ishi in Japanese) are the main concern of the Japanese garden. If the stones are placed correctly, then the garden shows in a perfect balance. So here are shown the basic stone types and the rules for their positions.

The basic stones are the tall upright stone, the low upright stone, the curved stone, the reclining stone, and the horizontal stone. These must be usually set in triads although this doesn’t happen always. Two almost identical stones (by way of example, two tall verticals or two reclining stones), one a little quite smaller than the other, can be set together as male and female, but the use of them in threes, fives, and sevens is more frequent.

We have to keep away from the Three Bad Stones. These are the Diseased stone (having a withered or misshapen top), the Dead stone (an obviously vertical one used as a horizontal, or vice versa, like the placement of a dead body), and the Pauper Stone (a stone having no connection to the several other ones in the garden). Use only one stone of each of the basic types in any cluster (the rest have to be smaller, modest stones also known as throwaway stones). Stones can be placed as sculptures, set against a background in a two-dimensional way, or given a purpose, such as a stepping stone or a bridge.

When used as stepping stones they should be between one and three inches above the soil, yet solid underfoot, as if rooted into the ground. They can be put in straight lines, offset for left foot, right foot (referred as chidori or plover, after the tracks the shore bird leaves), or set in sets of twos, threes, fours, or fives (and any combination thereof).

The pathway stands for the passage through life, and even particular stones by the path may have meaning. A much wider stone placed across the path tells us to put two feet here, stopping to enjoy the view. There are numerous stones for specific places. When observing the basic design principles, we can notice the exact character of the Japanese garden.

Water (mizu in Japanese) plays an important part in the composition of the Japanese garden because of Japan’s abundant rainfall. Water can be represented even with a raked gravel area instead of water. A rushing stream can be represented by placing flat river stones closely together. In the tea garden, where there isn’t any stream or pond, water plays the most important role in the ritual cleansing at the chozubachi, or water basin. As the water fills and empties from the shishi-odoki, or deer scare, the clack of bamboo on rock helps mark the passage of time.

The flow of water, the way it sounds and looks, brings to mind the continual passage of time. A bridge crossing the water stream is often used as a landscaping complement. Bridges denote a journey, just as pathways do. Hashi, in japanese, can mean bridge or edge. Bridges are the symbolic pass from one world into another, a constant theme in Japanese art.

Plants or Shokobutsu may play a secondary role to the stones in the garden, but they are a primary concern in the design too. Stones represent what remains unchanged, so trees, shrubs, and perennials have to represent the passing of seasons. Earlier garden styles used plants to make up poetic connotations or to correct geomantic issues, but these have little meaning today.

As the the Heian style diminished under the Zen influence, perennials and grasses fell out of use. So, for a long time, there were only a few plants that tradition allowed for the garden. However, in modern Japan, designers are again widening the spectrum of materials used. It is highly recommended that native plants are chosen for the garden, because showy exotic plants are not in good taste. Be aware that native plants are used in the garden, because it is in bad taste to use showy exotic plants. Although pines, cherries and bamboo immediately remind us of Japanese gardens, we encourage you to use native plants of your locality that you can find pleasing. If we choose evergreens as the main plant theme and combine it with deciduous material that may provide seasonal blooms or foliage color we can recreate the look of the Japanese garden.

Now the next thing taken in consideration in a Japanese garden are the ornaments or Tenkebutsu. Stone lanterns are, for westerners, a typical impression of Japanese gardens.Stone lanterns are not important components of the Japanese garden. The reason is that ornaments are subjected to the garden’s design. Lanterns, stupas, and basins are just architectural complements added when a point of visual interest is necessary to the design.

A good way to finish yor garden design could be a well-placed lantern. The three main styles (although with many variations) are: The Kasuga style lantern, is a very formal one featuring a stone base. In the Oribe style lantern, unlike the Kasuga style, the pedestal is underneath the ground. The Yukimi or Snow-Viewing lantern is set on short legs instead of a pedestal. Consider the formality of your garden setting to choose the appropriate lantern.

When possible, elements from outside the garden can be included in it. For instance, you can work a far away mountain including the scenery in your design, framing it with the stones and plants existing in the garden.
The borrowed scenery (shakkei in Japanese) can be: Far (as in a far away mountain); near (a tree just outside the fence); High (an element seen above the fence) or low (like a component seen below a fence or through a window in the fence).

As much as it is perceived to contradict our sense of enclosure, it reminds us of how all things are interconnected.

The feel of your garden
The Japanese garden is a subtle place full of contradictions and imperatives. Where firmly established rules are broken with other rules. If you meet the Buddha on the road, you must kill him is a Zen paradox that recommends not to stick so tightly to rules, and the same goes for Japanese gardens.

When building a Japanese garden, don’t get too attached to traditions that hold little meaning for you. It would have no function to recreate a Buddhist saints garden. This also applies to trying to remember the meaning of stone placements, as this method is no longer used in Japan, or even in the United States, due to the lack of meaning for us in the modern world.

That’s why we have selected a few gardening suggestions that do hold relevance and integrate them into a garden. These three ideas on gardening will give direction to achieve perfect results.

First
The overall setting of the garden should always be right for the location, not the other way around.

Second
The stones should be placed first, next the trees, and then the shrubs.

Third
Get used to the concepts of shin, gyo, and so. This is of great help to start working on the garden.

Have in mind that the real Japanese gardens are the traditional ones in Japan. What we can do in America is to shape a garden in the Japanese style. Rikyu once said about the perfect Roji: “Thick green moss, all pure and sunny warm”. In other words, techniques are not as important as the feeling you evoke in your garden. Said in other way, the feeling is more important than techniques.