The Kotoji Japanese lantern is probably the most frequent single element that I have photographed in our Heatherwood Japanese Garden. It sits in a prominent spot overlooking the stream and waterfalls. One leg is in the stream while the other sits solidly on land. From every angle it seems to be a sentinel guarding the stream and pond below. The Kotoji can be seen from multiple places around the Japanese garden as well as as from the lower Heatherwood meadow and garden. Even in winter it is a dominant focal point in the landscape. At night its internal light shines through the lantern openings while an external flood lamp highlights the lantern and stream.
Many mornings we have started the day enjoying a cup of coffee overlooking the Kotoji from the “Perch” above. In the late afternoon/early evening we have sat below looking up over the pond and waterfalls to the Kotoji as we sip a glass of wine toasting to another beautiful day.
I think winter is finally here. The first five weeks of winter have been very mild with temperatures often in the 40’s and 50’s. We have had several very light snowfalls that have melted within a day. Sunday night we received this snow. More is scheduled for this week and coming weekend. Heatherwood is beautiful this time of year. It creates a very peaceful feeling. All the new plants provide a striking contrast to what was just a lawn and pasture setting two years ago.
In this image, the Kotoji lantern silently watches over the dry stream bed. In a couple of months the steam will be active with flowing water and waterfalls.
Patiently watching a silent bed, Kotoji waits for spring ahead, With rushing water soon to come.
This is one of my favorite view points in Heatherwood’s Japanese Garden. A large stone natural bridge extends over a stream and a small waterfall. On the far side of the bridge, I can look over a small Japanese maple and the Kotoji lantern to see the pond and Yukimi lantern below. Our five Japanese lanterns are placed around the garden to provide different viewpoint perspectives. As the garden changes color during the seasons, the perspectives change as well. Over time as the surrounding trees, shrubs, and ground covers mature, the perspectives will also change. There seems to be something new every time I walk around the garden.
Kotoji, Waterfall, and Color Heatherwood Japanese Garden, Fall
Reds, oranges, yellows, and greens. along with the Kotoji lantern highlight this vignette in our Japanese-style garden. Water flows from above to a pond below. Two Japanese maples, a weeping larch and nine different conifers surround the scene.
More long exposure practice … For this image, I tried to create a feeling of slowing down time. I wanted the water to have a distinct character as opposed to being a soft blur. Time is a continuum. Each element in motion has a unique flow. Small streams of splashing water have their distinct line as opposed to being combined in a blur with others.
This view of the Kotoji Japanese lantern and the spring-colored Japanese maples is just one of the several focal points that we can see from our view point shown in my previous posting. The afternoon sun makes the reds of the Japanese maples glow as well as highlights the Kotoji. Spring at Heatherwood is brilliant. A glass of red wine goes well with the red Japanese maples. Here’s a toast to Spring!
I have learned so many new things as we have been designing and implementing a Japanese-style garden here in Selah, Washington. The biggest thing that I have learned is how little I know and how much I need to learn. Studying and learning is a big part of the enjoyment that I am receiving from this project. Patience is a key element that I am balancing.
Walking through a Japanese garden is an adventure in discovery. To get to the point where this image is taken, I take a meandering stroll. I enter the garden from our driveway along a gentle bending path and come to a fork. I choose to walk up a gentle slope. The path curves upward to a wide level space where I pause to closely observe a brilliant yellow “Chief Joseph” limber pine. I turn around and see our pond in the distance. I continue to walk up the path to another wide area at the top of a stream. Again I pause to look over the now dry stream bed and over the valley below. After several moment, I cross a large basalt rock bridge over the stream. I turn to my right and see this vignette of the Kotoji and Yukimi lanterns. One leg of the Kotoji is anchored in the stream. The Yukimi is placed on a rock extending over the edge of the pond. On a bright day (without ice or snow covering the pond), I can see the reflection of the Yukimi on the pond. I feel like it acts like a guardian for the koi in the pond.
After I take the photograph, I step back upon the stone bridge. Looking down on the stream, I consider the options that are available to landscape around the stream to create a natural setting. Ideas flow through my mind. Nothing quite gels at the moment. There is no hurry to come up with a design. A landscape is developed over a period of years. It is never completed. Now is the time to have patience and just enjoy what is in front of me.
As we developed the design for our Japanese Garden, winter color was an essential element. Throughout the garden, we added several conifers that turn to a brilliant yellow to contrast against the greens of other shrubs and trees. We also selected deciduous Japanese maples and other trees that have color in their winter bark. The soft light browns of key rocks add to the color contrast. However, these were gifts, not necessarily part of our planned design. We just got lucky here.
One Japanese garden design technique is to used “borrowed scenes” from the area around the garden. As much as possible the background elements should look like they are part of the near and mid-range scene, giving it additional depth. As we laid out our Japanese garden last summer, we identified several elements for which we positioned them to take advantage of the background hills and landscape. In this image we used our neighbor’s large front yard tree, their pasture, and their fence to give depth to the Kotoji landscape view.
Hoarfrost is amazing. The small ice crystals build up on each other as the frost forms. Here, the hoarfrost continued to build up over a two day period. The frost looks like multiple sharp spikes on the exposed Japanese maple branches.
I was prepared for a sharp prick when I touched a branch. As soon as I got close the frost melted. No pain!