“When you see red, shoot” … especially in the garden. The leathery red leaves of this Oregon grape popped out from the background. The Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium) is a multi-season star of the garden. Its dark green leaves provide a strong contrast with its bright yellow spring blooms. These turn into blue berries in the late summer/fall. In the winter, the leaves turn to various shades of orange, burgundy, and red.
We have planted several mahonia among the pines and spruces of our conifer grove to provided a multi-season complimentary contrast.
The squiggly branches of this tree shrub would catch anyone’s interest. My challenge creating this image was to compose it to achieve a balance within the image and to have a light background to highlight the curly branches.
Heatherwood does not have one of these … yet. It is another opportunity to make an interesting addition.
The glow of this back/side lit expired hydrangea bloom stopped me in my tracks. It was like if it was a bright red stop sign signaling me to stop and pay attention to what it had to offer. Each fall, I face a hard decision to deadhead the spent blooms for a better bloom next year, or let them be to provide special winter interest. We solved the problem this spring by planting several additional plants in the lower part of the garden.
This post will start a series of images depicting nature’s little wonders. These images are from a photo excursion I took in the Yakima Arboretum over a year ago. From time to time, I give myself an assignment to practice a specific type of photography. This trip I focused on looking for little things that caught my eye whatever they might be. Some were abstracts, others were macro details of pieces of nature.
Interesting bark was one of the things that caught my eye. The texture and color contrasts of the peeling bark of a paperbark maple (Acer griseum) creates a beautiful abstract that highlights a winter scene. We have planted two acer griseums in our yard, one at the entry of our Japanese garden and one in the middle of our front lawn. They are striking in the summer and gorgeous in the winter, especially covered with a little snow.
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.