Ramblings of a "New American" Gardener

Which way, please?

April 7, 2016

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The garden in early April is mostly invisible. This is its skeleton. By mid-June the rapidly growing perennials and grasses will make most pathways disappear, creating a new landscape, a virtual new topography.

When visitors arrive, particularly groups who think they need to be managed and guided, I feel unable to instruct them on what route to take. To do so isn’t true to the intent of the garden. There is no beginning or end. The garden is a thing unto itself, and is there to be walked and observed in whatever sequence a visitor chooses … as you can (or can’t) see in Andrea Jones’ photo below, taken in late October.

GDJ

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Catherine April 12, 2016 at 12:06 am

It’s a quite Japanese concept, I think – the idea of carefully managing the way someone views and progresses around a garden. I remember the first time I was in Japan and was quite surprised how often the path twisted and turned, forcing me to look this way, and then that. It had the advantage of revealing vistas and details that would otherwise have been overlooked but the paths felt very one-way. I can see that yours intersect, leaving the visitor to re-walk the same path from the other direction, which is often the test of a good garden – can it survive both view points? Clearly yours does!

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James Golden April 12, 2016 at 6:43 am

I certainly had a Japanese aesthetic in mind as I made the garden, but certainly no intent to imitate a Japanese garden. The house overlooking the garden has elements that recall Japanese design, and the garden’s obvious delight in the simplicity and beauty of aging and decay are a physical manifestation of Wabi Sabi I think. I’ve sought to find some universals in Japanese design that are natural to this landscape in New Jersey. Thank you for the incisive comments.

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