Saturday, April 7, 2018

Garden works: new fence, new pines, new roof

by aleks
Each year during the winter closure the gardeners busily fix and change whatever needs to be fixed and changed, and if some major work needs to be done they leave it for that season, so there is as little disruption to the Garden when it's open for visitors as possible.

SJG • 3/28/18 - Camellia japonica 'Takayama' framed by the new bamboo fence, Area B

SJG • 3/28/18 - Camellia japonica 'Takayama' 
Most of the times the gardeners cover their tracks so it's hard to tell at the first glance what they did. If they remove a plant they never leave a gapping whole, but either put a new plant there or artfully cover the area with moss so unsuspecting eye doesn't immediately (or ever!) detect the change. Entire 10-20 trees disappeared or changed location without anybody noticing because the beautiful composition of the garden did not betray the disruption.  Once a huge western red cedar was cut and hauled away during the winter and hardly anybody took notice, because the new vista presented itself cleaner and prettier than the old one (save for the poor group of guides that each year catalogue all the plants for the Plant List - they used that cedar as a mark between the garden areas and boy, they were mightily confused! The Plant List is on sale at the Garden's gate).

This past winter's 'clandestine' work involved moving azaleas around, to better coordinate their colors with each other.  It's not a secret that Mr. Iida, who built our Garden over 50 years ago was a bit dismayed when the Arboretum gave him some 160 azaleas to use in the Garden.  He left a record of trying to downplay their colors, instructions to cut some of the western showy ones when the Garden matures and fills out a bit. The Garden is an ongoing work of art, and although most of Mr. Iida's instructions were carried through, our Garden in spring is still more of a rhododendron/azalea kingdom than a typical Japanese Garden. Again, the visitors probably won't notice the gardeners handiwork as the new picture will be probably more graceful and pleasing than the original, but the plant group will have a nice puzzle to solve.

Sometimes the winter changes are more dramatic, harder to hide or downright something to boast about it, like reconstructing the entire stream area after it dilapidated and looked somewhat raggedy unkept  and not in a 'rustic' way....  Or when one of our most precious 100+ years old Japanese maples was dug out, moved a meter away and turned 90 degrees to better showcase it and retrieve the look  which Dick Yamasaki achieved when he installed the rock placement nearby in the then new Garden (the maple grew over the years, of course, and the proportions were lost).

SJG • 4/2/18 - new Japanese black pine along the East path (area K)
This is one of those dramatic years in the Garden, for sure.  During the winter the gardeners handcrafted a beautiful bamboo fence framing the west side of Area B, where the Japanese Holly (Ilex crenata 'Sky Pencil') hedge stood for years.  They felt that as the Garden matured, the row of Japanese Holly, otherwise striking plants, was no longer creating a nice frame to plants and structures in that area - in fact they 'messed up' the picture  and distracted the eye.

Some of the pines had to be replaced as in recent years they were attacked by a type of fungi that didn't respond to a limited variety of treatments that the gardeners were able to use - the garden is quite fragile in itself, but the presence of koi and other animals called for only the most environmentally safe measures.

SJG • 4/2/18 - 3 new Japanese red pines on the  NW corner of the pond

The new Japanese black pine in K  (it replaced one of the hybrid pines that grew there) will probably not cause any cognitive dissonance in anyone:  it composes itself well into the new surroundings, and it was carefully pruned and trained for the last 20 years in the private garden of Lonnie, one of the Garden's long time gardeners.  He donated it to the Garden this past winter and apart from support to straighten  it a bit for the new picture (Lonnie trained it for a bit more slanted/swept away look) it kind of looks like it might have been always there.

But it's a different matter with the three  new Japanese red pines in the northwest corner of the pond: they replaced a grouping of 5 diseased Shore pines that were trying to survive there.  It's a quite a sizable area with 5 holes left in the ground after the trees were removed, so it is hard to pretend that the ground is undisturbed, even after planting 3 rather biggish new pines.  On top of it the new pines require much support to train them to grow in correct direction and simply being left alone after the transplanting shock.  So they have that 'art in progress' look right now, and it'll be a while before the gardeners start shaping them to harmonize their look with the rest of the Garden.  One of those red pines was also Lonnie's donations, and the other two were previously growing outside the Garden.

SJG • 4/2/18 - Machai is getting a new, copper roof

THE MACHIAI ROOF!  That is and will be hard to miss change!  the old wooden roff on the Machiai in the Tea House garden got rotten and needed replacing.  Right now the construction is being done on the new copper roof - the sheets of copper came all the way from Japan and Dale Brotherton is supervising this authentic traditional Japanese architectural effort.  If you want to see this being done (the supporting beams are being constructed, the copper has to be fitted in a certain interlocking way) the time is NOW, it is scheduled to be completed in about a a week or so.

Thank you, Gardeners!!!