Saturday, November 26, 2011

Lecture on Chinese Garden Design - Wed. November 30

June 2011 - members of Unit 86 visiting Seattle Chinese Garden

Chinese Garden Design & Lore

Inaugural Lecture in New Pacific Connections Series

The Arboretum Foundation and UW Botanic Gardens invite you to join us for a free lecture about Chinese gardens on Wednesday, November 30, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Graham Visitors Center. The talk is entitled "Chinese Garden Design & Lore" and will be presented by garden writer andWashington Park Arboretum Bulletin editor Jan Whitner.

The lecture is the first in the Pacific Connections Series, an enrichment activity program that we are offering to our new Pacific Connections Garden Stewards.

To mark the kick-off of the series, we are opening up the first lecture to all our members, volunteers, and friends. Space is limited (only 25 seats are available), so RSVP soon to reserve your spot.

Please RSVP to Rhonda Bush by email or phone (206-941-2550).

P.S. from aleks - related links for your pre-lecture enjoyment:

• Chinese and Japanese Gardens  – By Paul Hicks – snip: [...] The great influence of China on the evolution of Japanese gardening is particularly interesting given the many physical, cultural and historical differences between the two lands. A good way to learn about the art of the classical Chinese garden is to visit the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden on Staten Island. [...]

• Thoughts and notes from a lecture by Mark Bourne at the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco - snip: [...] The cultural differences are substantial between Japanese and Western gardens, and even between Chinese and Japanese gardens. The idea of Chinese gardens is something that you walk through, like a strolling garden. For this reason, Chinese and Western gardens have more in common with each other than with Japanese gardens. [...]

Lynnda's post about Seattle Chinese Garden on this blog - snip: [...] Chinese architecture has aspects that are meant to thwart evil spirits. The sweeping tips of the roof are to keep airborn evil spirits from coming to earth. Once the spirits flow onto the roof, they are directed up again by the upward curve of the roof. [...]

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Japanese Holidays & Festivals

by aleks

Last Saturday a team of our own docents treated us all to a delightful and delicious presentation about the nature of Japanese Holidays and Festivals from Tsukimi (Moon Viewing Festival), through Bunka-no-hi (Culture Day), Gantan (New Year's day), Kodomono-hi (Children's Day), Tanabata ('Evening of the 7th' or Star Festival) to Obon (Holiday commemorating one's ancestors).  Perhaps one day Keiko will write a detailed post about those holidays, below just a few impressions from a grateful attendee of the presentation.

Tateuchi Community Room • 11/5/11  - Continuing Education meeting:
Keiko running PPP on Japanese Holidays and Festivals

Keiko run an overview of all holidays via  power point presentation, while Shizue stepped in here and there,  to demonstrate hands-on examples of games played, dolls and cards used by children and adults during different festivities. Sue did a sub-presentation on '3 friends of winter' (pine, bamboo and plum) and their role in holiday spirit and decorations, including an example of a gate maker kodamatsu and pictures of dishes used where (one so inclined) could find the three friends among other depicted images - all fun and games.

Obon: Chiba, Japan. 2011

We were also treated to a reading of Hiroko's personal memories of celebrating New Year as a child in Japan - her taking the time to record it made us all feeling much closer to a 'real thing' than any official documentary on the topic would do (link to Hiroko's memories below).

TCR • 11/5/11- Learning about hagoita, for a game of hanetsuki.

It was a very lively continuing education meeting, filled with many questions, laughter and sharing - of the many hands-on articles I personally had fun with the English version of 'One hundred poems from the Japanese', translated by Kenneth Roxtroth.  This venerable looking volume, filled with poems as old as 7th century, surprised me with the intensity and sensibility of those short verses;  I instantly wanted to engross myself in the collection of quite often powerful poems, but with wondrous happenings around me in real life I had to postpone it for a future trip to library.

Here a a few offerings from the volume + more on Rexroth archive webpage:

I have always known 
That at last I would 
Take this road, but yesterday 
I did not know that it would be today.
- NARIHIRA (9th century)

That spring night I spent 
Pillowed on your arm 
Never really happened 
Except in a dream. 
Unfortunately I am 
Talked about anyway.
- LADY SUWO (11th-12th century)

TCR • 11/5/11 - Delicious Japanese food Shizue-san kindly shared with us

The meeting ended with food offering: Shizue brought a dazzling variety of Japanese food - a rice dish called chirashi-zushi, daikon and carrot salad Namasu, tofu, beans and different veggies, all neatly packed in traditional  stackable lacquered boxes, while Keiko prepared and presented in a crock-pot amazing amazake  - warm and sweet fermented rice wine with close to zero alcohol content - I found a recipe here, but it looks very involved, perhaps Keiko can share her own recipe. After many years of having cold amazake (PCC co-op sells it  in refrigerator section), I learned  that it's supposed to be served warm, and it was way more delicious that way.   And certainly cold amazake is not as bad as cold pierogis: once in the past I designed a Polish-style dinner, which was prepared without my supervision in someone else's house  +  my instruction were probably not clear, because later I was told that the appetizer was particularly gross: the poor pierogi dumplings were served cold before dinner, instead of being a main hot entry.

THANK YOU! our Continuing Education Committee  and the last Saturday Presenters for this truly memorable teachings - we are lucky to have such an interesting group of people working as a TEAM to educate the rest of us.

•  Link to the lecture's  handout containing a list of all holidays
•  Link to Hiroko's memories of her childhood New Years celebrations in Japan

Below some additional outstanding links courtesy of Keiko-san, who helped me tremendously in researching this little report by patiently providing her time and expertise, sharing many explanations, web-resources, Obon photograph,  as well as a lively discussion on the art of translating Japanese poetry... Thank you, Keiko-san for all the assistance and enjoyment you gifted me with and that went into making this post!

• MacCauley's translation of Hyakunin-isshu from University of Virginia Library
• Sketches of Japanese Manners and Customs (1867) by J. M. W. Silver. (The Project Gutenberg eBook)
• Japanese Irises by the Japan Iris Society
• Free desktop wallpaper (shichi-go-san)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Autumn in Seattle Japanese Garden

by aleks
Click on the pics to see them larger
For those of you who can't come and see it in person.

SJG • 11/1/11

SJG • 10/27/11

SJG • 10/27/11

SJG • 11/1/111

SJG • 10/27/11

SJG • 11/1/11

SJG • 11/1/11

SJG • 11/1/11

SJG • 11/1/11

Yasuo Kuwahara - 'The Song of the Japanese Autumn' 
performed by HET CONSORT - Part I: 

前人の植えた樹 (Zennin no ueta ki)  
You benefit from predecessors' hardships (lit. Trees planed by predecessors)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Maple Fest stars - part 2

by aleks
11/6/11 Edit: added 4 new pics to illustrate Nikko and Omato maples color progress
Click on the pics to see them larger

Here are the remaining maples which were marked by name for the Maple Fest Oct. 16, and are still performing their magic tricks, while awaiting your visit.

8.) Acer palmatum 'Yatsubusa' - dwarf leaf maple:
Native of Japan, it sits on the right side of the entrance path, right before paperbark maple and it has  exceptionally small and dainty leaves.   I googled it to see for fall color patterns, only to be dazzled by too many varieties:  mikawa yatsubusa, kiyohime yatsubusa (ground cover type), kashima yatsubusa, shishi yatsubusa....  I think I felt a bit better before getting a glimpse of the depth of my ignorance; well  - most of them get orange-red leaves in autumn and some get red tips or edges, but ours is still firmly green.

SJG • 10/19/11 - Acer palmatum 'Yatsubusa' - dwarf leaf maple, it's the green
tree in the center, between bench and pine, Area  C
SJG • 10/19/11 - Acer palmatum 'Yatsubusa' - dwarf leaf maple, tiny leaves

9.) Acer sieboldianum - Siebold maple:
Never really noticed much this modest maple, which sits in out of the way, between the paths place, in area F.   But now it is, ah, so strikingly beautiful, leaning over the water in her autumn brilliant orange and red regalia... It's native to the mountains of Japan.

SJG • 10/19/11 - Acer sieboldianum - Siebold maple, Area F
SJG • 10/19/11 - Acer sieboldianum - Siebold maple, leaves

10.) Acer nikoense - Nikko maple:
We had really hard time to find it:  Sue - the Master Gardener and 3 of us, guides,  walked along the service road several times back and forth trying to locate it, to no avail...  We finally discovered it on the edge of the orchard - fortunately it had the official green Park label attached, so we were sure it was IT.

Originally we were under-impressed  - another maple not looking like a Japanese maple at all, just a big, green tree -  but the next day Sue mentioned that she and Patty read up on it, and that once in fall color it is supposed to be spectacular - so we will all look forward to it.  Also Keiko emailed that she didn't recognize it because it wasn't looking like magnificent Nikko maples she saw in Japan, and only later she remembered Kathleen Smith's maple lecture/tour some years ago and stopping by this particular tree,  even making a drawing of its branches then. Apparently wait and see attitude is needed, before we are gifted with what this native of China and Japan does in autumn while living in the Pacific Northwest climate.  I'll try to photograph it some more, as the fall progresses...

SJG • 10/19/11 - Acer nikoense - Nikko maple,  the green tall one in the middle,
between orange tree on the left and smaller orchard tree on the right, Area ZZW

SJG • 11/1/11 - The same Acer nikoense - Nikko maple, 2 weeks later;
Now redder, but even though the acer Japonicum on the left stopped its blaze,
the Nikko maple does  not look  the happiest in our Garden

SJG • 10/19/11 - Acer nikoense - Nikko maple, tri-foliate leaves which turn
pinkish-red-purple in fall and separate as they fall;
found a branch that is slowly turning
SJG • 11/1/11 - Acer nikoense - Nikko maple, tri-foliate leaves 2 weeks later

11.) Acer palmatum 'Samidare' - Japanese maple:
This native of Japan resides next to the zigzag bridge and, like most maples this year,  is late turing - last year it was bright red for the Maple Fest and I remember clicking lots of pics of it (one small sits on the top left column of this blog). Its leaf has seven lobes and branches turn different shades of orange, red and purple in autumn.

SJG • 10/19/11 - Acer palmatum 'Samidare' - Japanese maple, Area Q
SJG • 10/19/11 - Acer palmatum 'Samidare' - Japanese maple, leaves

12.) Acer Palmatum 'Omato' - Japanese maple:
Located between wisteria trellis and the East fence, 7 lobes Omato has leaves that in spring are bright red, turn to green in the summer and then turn deep red again in the late autumn.

SJG • 10/19/11 - Acer Palmatum 'Omato' - Japanese maple, Area K
SJG • 11/1/11 - The same Acer Palmatum 'Omato' - Japanese maple,
2 weeks later getting crimson red again

SJG • 10/19/11 - Acer Palmatum 'Omato' - Japanese maple, leaves
SJG • 11/1/11 - Acer Palmatum 'Omato' - Japanese maple, leaves, 2 weeks later

13.) Acer palmatum 'shishigashira' - Lion's mane maple: 
Sometimes referred to as 'Lion's Head Maple', it holds its foliage in interesting tufts. Native of Japan, Shishigashira lives on the mountain path leading to the North Hill, above the village.  Its densely packed small leaves have 7 lobes, and it is usually one of the last to flaunt its golden orange and crimson tones in autumn.

SJG • 10/19/11 - Acer palmatum 'shishigashira' - Lion's mane maple
Center left in the pic - holds its foliage along the branches in bundles,
giving it bold architectural appeal; Area N.
SJG • 10/19/11 - Acer palmatum 'shishigashira' - Lion's mane maple 

14.) Acer circinatum - vine maple:
Ooops, or what is left of it this year - this native to NW US already turned and adjourned :( - will ask the Gardeners if it's normal and look for the others, as there are 6 vine maples in the Garden...

Wiki entry says  that it grows from southwest British Columbia to northern California, always within 300 km of the Pacific Ocean coast.  The enigmatic description provided for the Maple Fest reads: 'Leaves have 5-11 lobes and can turn brilliant orange red'.  CAN? Meaning might not or do something else? Oh, well, missed whatever it did, but found some leaves on the ground still.

SJG - 10/19/11 - Acer circinatum - vine maple; already turned and adjourned, Area Y
SJG - 10/19/11 - Acer circinatum - vine maple, leaf (on the ground the tree bare)

15. Acer palmatum 'Shigitatsusawa':
Sometimes spelled 'Shigitatsu Sawa', this maple grows in the shaded area (it doesn't like intense sun) along the service road on the West side of the Garden. It has reticulated leaves (which appear variegated due to the contrast created between leaf surface and the prominent leaf veins) with 7-9 lobes, pale green in spring changing to a medium green in summer with a less defined vein. Fall color is golden yellow with a contrasting vein.

SJG • 10/19/11 - Acer palmatum 'Shigitatsusawa', Area ZZW

SJG • 10/19/11 - Acer palmatum 'Shigitatsusawa',  leaves

16. Acer griseum - Paper-bark maple:
Almost forgot you, dear paper-bark maple, because your fascinating peeling bark is pointed to all year round - walked right past and had to go back to get a pic...

Our paper-bark maple sits close to the entrance of the Garden, in area C - it's a tall, mature tree, with leaves not resembling typical maple, and too high in the sky for my camera to capture them.

SJG • 10/27/11 - Acer griseum - Paper-bark maple,  peeling bark trunk 

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

About all those interesting Japanese names of the maples - hopefully, it'll be in the next post.  Keiko, are you ready?  Fascinating what you said that 'Shigitatsusawa' means 'shigi bird standing near the water' (if I recall correctly this beautiful image), and that shigi is something between egret and tashigi, a rice field shigi?     I'll email you the list of maple names soon, and possibly we can start from there -  can't wait for this linguistic adventure.