In my last post, I described the path up to the top of our Japanese-style garden. This is the “Chief” that I mentioned at the the first turn of the upward path. The brilliant gold of this small pine stops me in my tracks. It is absolutely beautiful against the cold winter snow. It is a jewel in this area of the garden.
Bright and light it captures me. Gold shines apart from the surrounding land, Everything else is a background blur.
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.
As I walk around our garden, little pieces of art show themselves to me. Most of the time, I am just wandering when they appear. Something makes me stop and look closer. I imagine how I can best treat the gift appropriately. Sometimes they need to be accurately represented with fine detail. Other times they can be converted into an abstract blur. Still other times they are best processed by photoshop manipulation. This time I used a touch of Photoshop and Topaz Degas adjustments to achieve the end results.
I love to walk in our garden and enjoy all the little gifts that are given to me!
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!
The weather continues to be warm. It almost feels like spring. I need to remember that we are just starting the third week of winter. I am sure that the real winter weather is yet to come. So to keep things in perspective, I reflect back several weeks ago when a cold spell hit and we had two days of hoarfrost. It was beautiful but very cold. It was too cold for me to mess around with a tripod, thus my images are not as crisp as I would have liked.
Can you believe that it was 56 degrees in our Eastern Washington garden on 1 January 2020. It was over 20 degrees warmer than the average New Years Day temperature. I took the opportunity to spend several hours working (playing) in the garden both with my camera and garden tools. Such nice weather makes me excited about starting new spring projects early. But I must be patient and wait for the winter season to run its course. However, I can be contemplative and creative using my camera to record the progression of the season through the garden. Spring will come soon enough.