Saturday, November 20, 2010

Less is More

by Monzie

SJG • 11/17/10 photo by Monzie
When the garden's front gates closed for the season November 14, activity shifted to maintenance.  I went over to watch the work in progress in rain and less rain.

Parks staff and consultant Masa and his crew were providing observers with a two-week double header this year.  Workers were thinning and eliminating along the garden's east side between the main path and fence in addition to pruning some 50 pines and tending to other annual tasks.

Result:  New, more open vistas to the east! 

Scripts for visitors may need amendment.  Shizue was there, carefully noting eliminations.

When supervisor Lisa came by she talked about the fundraising planned so the west side can receive the same attention next year.

After watching the thinning and eliminating - and enjoying the heavy scent of cedar - I paused by the pruners doing a high wire act in front of the Emperor's Gate.

Farther along, a drowsy mini-school of koi languidly waved their tails

At the north end's five pines, three pruners closely examined branches, then snipped, showing me how they had opened the tree and enhanced the layered, windswept look.

Leaving the garden,  I passed large branches on their way to the truck outside where they were reduced to chips.

I looked back at the closed gates.  When they reopen February 13, the garden will have a new, more expansive look.  Truly, less is more.


  1. thanks for trekking to the Garden and sharing with the rest of us, great post!:)

  2. Nice photos, especially one with the white ladders.

  3. Great post. Maintenance is something a lot of public Japanese gardens overlook. Do the majority of "maintenance" related activities at the Seattle Japanese Garden occur when the garden is closed? I for one like to see maintenance activities going on while I visit a garden. Watching a skilled gardener at work is incredibly informative. And their effort, and attention to detail deepen my appreciation for the garden as living art.

    I hope you will write more posts on the subject of maintenance.

  4. Thanks for the feedback, Matt! We'll work on that.

    The consultant specialist and his crew visit for a week in the first half of November to do major pruning of the 56 or so pines. Each tree is photographed after pruning. And it is a true treat to watch the process. In 2010, the crew spent a second week to remove several trees and open up space along the fence. Through the year, two gardeners on staff of Seattle Parks, aided by a corps of volunteers, do the important and continuing maintenance of the 3.5 acre garden.

  5. Glad to see Joan's excellent post revisited. To add a bit of history: The construction of the Seattle Japanese Garden in 1960 was supervised by Garden Designer Juki Iida of Japan. Mr. Iida emphasized the importance of proper, ongoing maintenance, noting that preservation of a garden is harder than building one.