Gardening Gone Wild’s - Picture This Photo Contest for August 2010

Theme: On the Road Again

The Garden of Murin-An, Kyoto, Japan - August 2008

Add the Latin term “japonica” to any plant name and my heart melts, even if it’s Fallopia japonica, Japanese knotweed. I love Japanese gardens and so many plants, trees, and flowers that I’ve seen in Japan. This year I’ve been falling deeper and deeper in love with bamboo…

I normally want what I cannot have. I admire the techniqe and control in Japanese gardens, even if both are far beyond my abilities. More than anything, I  adore the mood of Japanese gardens - the peace they evoke. It’s a very personal thing - brought on by simplicity in small spaces - some people just shrug their shoulders and say “I like plants and flowers. I like colour. This is just a bit of raked gravel to me - nothing, really - certainly not what I consider a garden, anyway.” 

Shhhh! Perhaps some of us would benefit by silently approaching the art of Japanese gardening by starting with more recent gardens, inspired by Western traditions. This stream and small pond are 100% artificial, all designed and created in the last decade of the 19th century. I’m quite sure every rock, clump of grass, and tree was positioned or planted with intention.  Imagine…

I live in an Italian castle near Bologna, in the Po river valley - the flat land between two mountain ranges; the Alps and the Appenines.  Unless I want to create a massive clash between East and West, I can’t just dump a ton of gravel here in Italy, rake it around and pop in a stone lantern and some “japonica” plants. I have to use the materials that are already around me, and plants that love to be here.  I hope to one day create the feel of a Japanese garden in a very traditional Italian castle courtyard.  Tricky, I know, but I’m up for the challenge.

This photo is technically a mess - always risky going against the sun, especially with a cheap little pocket digital camera, for sure… but the feeling is there, more than in many other “better” photos I took two years ago… and I guess that’s what matters most, whether you’re making a garden or taking a photo. The feeling.