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Discussion in 'Japanese Gardens' started by rufretic, Nov 12, 2013.
I just wanted to share some things I've been working on for my garden.
And this is where I'm trying to plan a pond.
Very nice setting for such a garden.
It's a little larger than I would recommend any single person try to do themselves because quite honestly I think it's too large of a project for most people including myself. I'm way overwelmed and feel stressed that I will never be close to a finished garden. I just hope as the years pass it will come together and I can just relax and enjoy it. I've been working on it for about three years doing 99% of the work by hand including moving the rocks, some over 600lbs. I still have about a dozen boulders that are real big(1000lbs+) that I will need to rent some type of machinery to get them into position. I would like to dig the pond at the same time because with all the digging left to do, if I have to do it by hand, I might burn out before I finish it. I keep telling myself a little at a time but I always feel so anxious like I have to work on it every time I have free time which isn't often. I love it so far but I just wish it was a much smaller area so I had a chance at finishing it.
Don't give up: looks like you've come a long ways so far. My landscaped area's pushing almost 1/2 acre at this point, and like you, I've done most of it by hand--I'm not a romantic luddite, just can't afford the necessary machine time. Just dug a 30' x 12' pond (I can't stop digging ponds...first, because I need the topsoil, second, because I really like ponds), though it brought me close to the burn-out your describe, and last year managed to craft a 400 meter perimeter road (along which I've planted various nut trees) with a grub hoe, shovel, and rake--I kept thinking I'd hire a bobcat to do it, figured I'd get started in the meantime, and by chipping away at it, had it done in a couple of weeks. It's the chipping away mentality that gets you there, I think: a shovel at a time, a rock at a time, a planting hole at a time...as evidenced in your photos, it eventually gets you there. Same approach will see you finish it...eventually. If it's any consolation, through bi-annual mulching and dense planting (which eventually reduces the need for mulch), many of my older beds are mostly self-sufficient and require little maintenance--once they're fully established, weeds have a tougher time establishing through the density. Regardless of how long your motivation/spine endures, what you've established thus far will grow into a nice grove that will be rewarding in that setting for a long while, even if it's creation leaves you so hobbled you can't raise your head to admire the canopy. Not a bad legacy, and a fine testament to your aching back. One day (if not already) you'll look at it and wonder "how on earth did I do that?".
How'd you move your larger rocks? (Though I don't see anything too huge in the photo...assuming the larger boulders you mention are yet to be placed?) Levers and rollers? Surprising how large a boulder you can get rolling with the right technique: the old flip it up and walk it forward corner by corner also works pretty well. I've found heavy duty two-wheeled dollies indispensable for stuff like this, and of course laying the wheelbarrow on it's side, rolling the rock in and then leaning hard on the opposite side to lift the barrow is a fine stand-by.
Your exactly right, I have to just keep chipping away at it and one day I'll feel satisfied. If I had more free time I think I could get it finished next summer but work keeps me limited to an hour here or there and it's really hard to get anything done in such a short period of time. I keep telling myself one day I'll have more free time lol.
The rocks in the picture are about the average size I moved. Some of them are bigger than they appear. A lot of them were too heavy for the techniques you describe although I did use all those techniques at one time or another. Use the wheel barrel for a size refference. The dark pointy one on the left was almost a 1/2 ton. It is about a foot or two in the ground also. The ones that are too heavy for me to move are not in the pictures and are all over 1000lbs. Some are at the back of my property and a few are in my front yard where I dropped them with an escavator I had rented for work but didn't have the time to get them where I want them. I've moved 100s of rocks but only around 40-50 were too heavy to use the wheel barrel technique you describe. For those, the ones that I was still able to budge (200-400lbs), I slipped a 12" board under them and chained it to my mower and dragged them as close as I could and then rolled them. That was how I moved most of the ones in the picture. The ones that were too heavy for that (400-900lbs), I used a 3 ton come along and chained it to a tree trunk that was near the final spot. Then had to pry them inch by inch with a crow bar to get them where I wanted them. Most of these rocks I moved came from the back of my property which is a good 300ft from my garden area. I wish I had an escavator to use, would have saved a lot of wear and tear on my body.
Everything you made looks amazing and that spot for the pond has such great potential. Can't wait to see the colors reflecting from the surrounding plantings. The native trees make great borrowed scenery for a very serene space.
Be sure to work smarter and not harder...Take care of that back! We only have one and so much is riding on it...
We rush through life. Its this programing that we know, that society tells us it must be done now, is what gives you anxiety and restlessness. A garden like you are designing is meant to be an escape and leave that world behind. So don't let the world you are trying to escape while enjoying your garden in the future, dictate how it is done now. With a project such as this, its best to take your time and do it right. A garden evolves on its own time and not our time. When nothing is rushed and everything comes together in its own time, it just feels right. The most valuable and extraordinary things in life take time and they always outlive those passing moments of instant gratification. So I say take your time and let tomorrow worry about itself.
Another way of looking at it... Those gardens we love so much in Japan, were designed by great people who had the selfless patience to know that the beauty they are designing into the garden will not reach its full potential for another hundred years or more. Yet they continued, despite the fact they will not see it in their lifetime. Another thing to consider is that some of the great moss gardens of today, came out of years of human neglect or lack of human interference. The garden evolved in time, on its own, into something great. Today, we take immense amount of time to reproduce something that happened, so well, naturally over time.
I encourage you to take it slow and allow your ideas to evolve into something great. A nice garden looks good when its finished, but a great garden is never finished!
That's so true JT. I wish I knew how to calm myself and just enjoy the time I spend working on my garden without the anxiety. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy every minute I'm out there, it's more the down time that I have a problem with the anxiousness. Now in the winter is the hardest. I feel I have so much to do but can't because of the weather. I need to keep myself busy with planning and browsing pictures for inspiration. Finding little projects I can do indoors also helps. That's actually how I came to make my first lantern. I'm going to try making a couple more this winter but don't think I'll want them all out there, making it look cluttered or just overboard with decorative pieces. I'm always on the lookout for new ideas but haven't been able to find much else to make. We'll see, I still have a lot of free time ahead of me this winter.
"A nice garden looks good when its finished, but a great garden is never finished!"
I truly believe this as well and don't see myself stopping any time soon. One thing I would like to finish though is the pond, at least the basic design and have water in it. The goal is to finish it sooner than later because I would love to have the spot to sit and reflect while I take breaks from the other gardening I will be working on for many years to come. As it is now, I sit there looking at a patch of dirt wishing the pond was a reality. That definitely doesn't relax me lol.
Your maples rest during winter and so should you. I get the pond thing and think you should break down and rent a bobcat to get it done. Plan ahead and have other jobs for the bobcat while you have it to maximize your time. Its not worth ruining your back. Trust me!!! The cost of a bobcat is a small drop in the bucket in comparison to the financial, mental, and physical cost of an injured back. I think getting it done with the right equipment will give you the sense of accomplishment to fuel creativity for new garden projects.
As far as winter research, I think its a great way to be productive over winter. I find the information on Japanese gardens in English can lack depth. So I like to use google translate and go right to the source. For example (this is a very basic example), if you look at English websites on Japanese gardens vs something simple like Japans Wikipedia, you will notice the Japanese version goes into more depth. The problem is that I can't read Japanese, so I use google translate:
Since you like lanterns, click on the lanterns hyperlink in the 3rd paragraph under features. I love Google translate, although it has its flaws, it has opened up a whole new world of free knowledge!
If you are searching for inspiration, here is the best collection of photos on the web in my opinion. Art Project 念佛宗(念仏宗無量寿寺) http://www.flickr.com/photos/nenbutsushuart/
Thanks JT, you've given me a lot to explore!
Some other things I do in my quest for knowledge and inspiration is to copy / paste Japanese into google image search. (Then use google translate to visit and translate the page to read more, its easiest to use chrome as a browser because it has a translate button). Here is a list of Japanese to copy paste into google as an example; along with the English translation:
石灯籠 (or) 石燈篭 (Ishidōrō -stone lanterns)
道祖神 (Dōsojin - Protective stone markers)
手水鉢 (Chōzubachi - Hand water basin)
蹲踞 (TSUKUBAI - Stoop basin)
銭形水鉢 (Zenigata Mizubachi - Coin shaped water basin)
I will also share with you, one of my favorite Japanese websites on Japanese gardens and garden element photos (home page):
Lanterns (once on the page click on the 4 links at the bottom of the page to view the 4 photo galleries):
Stone walkways (once on the page click on the 4 links at the bottom of the page to view the 4 photo galleries):
Water basins (same as above):
Here is a link to the page dedicated to gardens that (I think) influences of your garden style:
I ran across this sharing and I am interested to know how you build your own stone lantern. Is there a link or set of instruction 'how to'?. Your stone lanterns look beautiful and how hard and how long it takes you to make one?. I just finished working on my JM garden last Falls and anxious to see what they will look like when Spring comes around. I got lots of input from JT and Charlie since I tried to mimic mine like JT's garden.
So now I like to add a few stone lanterns into my 'Sati Garden'. Any input is appreciated. Many thanks in advance.
I'm not sure if I'm allowed to post a link to the other garden forum where I wrote some info on how I made them so I'll send you a pm.
It's fine to post the link if you are helping someone (everyone) learn.
Here is the link to where I give details on how I built the large lantern.
If anyone has any questions, ask here because I don't go on that forum as often.
Thank you so much for sharing the link. I will need to read it a few times before get start on this project and I definitely will get back with you for some questions.