Category Archives: Gardens


“Acer Palmatum Dissectum Structure
Portland Japanese Garden

I love the delicate structure and leaves of Japanese Maples. They are planted in artistic displays throughout the Portland Japanese Garden. A staff of creative artists meticulously groom the trees. Each one is an art piece. I wish I could say the same for the Japanese maples in our Heatherwood garden. I focus on doing the minimum pruning just to keep them healthy and somewhat balanced. I dream of someday having the opportunity to work with a “Japanese maple artist” to gain a simple insight on his/her creative talent.


“Welcome to the Garden”
Portland Japanese Garden

This tall statuesque lantern welcomes visitors into the natural part of the Portland Japanese Garden. I have had a difficult time photographing this lantern during my several trips to the garden. On a sunny day, the strong light casts bright spots and shadows across the scene. On a cloudy day the moss-covered lantern blends into the background. During this visit, the light was gentle in the background as well as on the foreground. I was able to create a little more interest. It still is not quite what I want, but it getting closer. Maybe the next time I visit …

Similar Lantern, Different Feeling

“Kotoji and Stream”
Portland Japanese Garden

The Kotoji Japanese lantern in the Portland Japanese Garden is tucked away, partly hidden by surrounding shrubs and weeping maples. Shade has stimulated moss to grow on the lantern over the years. The lantern peacefully looks over the gentle, slow moving small stream.

At Heatherwood, the feeling is quite different. The surrounding shrubs and Orangeola Japanese maple have not had the years to mature and surround the Kotoji. The lantern is in full direct sun and stands like a strong guardian over the rapidly rushing stream and waterfalls.

“Kotoji and Waterfall”
Heatherwood Japanese Garden

Another Influence

“Lantern and Wash Basin”
Portland Japanese Garden

A lantern and wash basin typically greet visitors before they enter a Japanese garden tea house. This one in the Portland Japanese Garden is tucked into a little shaded cove just inside the gate leading to the tea house.

At Heatherwood, we do not have a tea house but are attempting to create a small cozy secluded sitting area to peacefully view the pond, stream, and water fall. In addition to an occasional cup of tea, it is a nice place to have a morning cup of coffee or afternoon glass of wine or other refreshing beverage. At the entrance of the sitting area, we have installed a small Japanese lantern and wash basin to simulate the feeling of Japanese garden tea house.

“Oribe Lantern, Tetsu Bachi Basin, & Kakehi Water Spout”
Heatherwood Japanese Garden

As you can see, the vegetation has not grown up around the water feature and it is not covered with moss. We patiently wait for surrounding plants and Japanese maples to grow and create a shady canopy for the wash basin.

Design Inspiration

“Lantern On Waterfall Pond”
Portland Japanese Garden

This scene at the Portland Japanese Garden was my initial inspiration for a corner of our pond in Heatherwood’s Japanese influenced garden. Our vignette at Heatherwood is quite a bit different, but contains many of the same elements. We built a rock ledge extending out over our pond and placed a similar type of Japanese lantern overlooking the pond. To the left of the lantern we planted Siberian iris which parallels the irises in the Portland garden. We planted an Akebono cherry tree to the right of the lantern. We have a sitting area behind the lantern with a rock stepping stone path leading up to the pond beside the lantern. We have just purchased a Japanese maple to plant alongside the lantern. Below is our Heatherwood perspective.

“Yukimi Japanese Lantern & Pond”
Heatherwood Japanese Garden

We have a long way to go before we have a “finished looking” scene. Each year we enjoy watching the garden evolve as we add new touches.

Sometimes I Just Have To …

“The Iconic Japanese Maple”
Portland Japanese Garden

I usually am not drawn to that special iconic scene when I visit various “natural beauties.” But, sometimes I just must create an image. This iconic Japanese maple overlooks the main pond at the Portland Japanese Garden. It is the same tree that I photographed from beneath the branches in my previous posting. Over the years, I have haphazardly made a collection of images of this tree from my various visits to the garden. I have photographed it in different seasons, different times of day, different types of light, different weather conditions, and from many different perspectives. Most times, it is the first place I stop when I enter the garden. It is time for me to get serious and create a selective set of images that interprets this beautiful work of nature through my eyes.

Under the Branches

“Signature Japanese Maple”
Portland Japanese Garden

Every time I visit the Portland Japanese Garden, I stop by and look under the branches of the signature Japanese maple that overlooks the main pond area. I get a completely different abstract view of the garden looking through the branches and leaves.

This star attraction is meticulously pruned to create the maple’s beautiful structure. The environment in the Portland garden is perfect for Japanese maples and their delicate pruned structure. In our Central Washington Heatherwood garden, we don’t the same luxury. Because of the harsh direct sunlight, we need to keep a heavy layer of leaves on the maples to protect them. We can still have a similar overall shape, but not the delicate loose layering of maples in a less harsh environment.

To Aspire For

“Grand Overview”
Portland Japanese Garden

Summertime in a Japanese garden is a texture of shades of green with an occasional hint of subdued color. It is a combined texture of rounded and vertical shapes. Here in the Portland Japanese Garden, every spot is filled in with various points of interest. Various shrubs and ground covers provide the understory. Different species of Japanese maples are the primary base of interest. Tall conifers are the backdrop for this overview scene of the garden.

As I sit and look over our Heaterwood Japanese garden, I let my imagination flow and dream what our garden may be for future generations to enjoy.

Foot Zoom

“Japanese Garden Pond”
Yakima Arboretum, Washington

I must remember, “simplify, simplify, and simplify” when I use a wide angle lens. For this image, my subject was the Japanese lantern balanced by the rock jutting out into the pond. All the additional stuff to the right was not essential and just cluttered the image. I just needed to “foot zoom” a few steps closer to make it a better image.

“Foot Zoomed”

I must remember to get in close and intimate when working with a wide angle lens. On the positive side, working with infrared allowed me to achieve a reasonable dynamic range with the harsh highlights and shadows.

I am humbled with my progress, but still encouraged. As my website theme highlights, my photographic excursions are a “Never Ending Journey.”