Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Maintenance Plans

I've started to plan for the spring. This coming season I have a lot of garden maintenance to take care of. 

The bamboo panels in the fence are starting to collapse in places. In some cases they have been up seven years. Being split bamboo, they are held together with very flimsy metal wire. Unprotected, these metal wires are rusting and breaking. Additionally, the panels have been bowing. Along the east end of the garden, they have taken a beating these last two winters from wind. 



It now appears that its time to replace them. However, this time around I will use 3/4 inch diameter bamboo fencing. 



When I designed the fence, I did so in a way that could accommodate larger bamboo or 3/4 inch wooden cedar boards. I still like the idea of bamboo, so I can easily purchase eight 8 foot sections online for about $550, including free shipping. I will start with a single panel and then see how it looks before I purchase the remaining 7 panles.

I am also starting the planning stage of the doors for the Woodland Gate. When I constructed the gate this last summer, I knew I would eventually want to include doors. However, I didn't want heavy doors like I placed elsewhere in the Zen garden.




Instead, I wanted more of a Sukiya style set of doors. I had seen several types over the last year and looked elsewhere on line for examples. Below are some doors I have come across that I like:





Below is a doctored photo of my own gate with the style I liked the best (from the image directly above):


Note: this is a doctored photo

My plan is to build a cedar frame this spring and use 1 inch diameter bamboo poles on the front side of each, ensuring that it continues to offer a more open style even when closed. 

Eventually, when the shrubs grow large enough, the doors and plantings should act as an attractive barrier. 


Note: this is a doctored photo

Given that the wood lot behind the gate is not my property, it should alleviate any fears of my neighbor that I am entering his property, while allowing me to create the appearance of a gateway that also provides a sense of security.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Ten Years After

Trusting the Buddha, good and bad,
I bid farewell
To the departing year.

  - Kobayashi Issa

The garden has its origins with the replacement of an old garage with a new garage. That process started in 2007. Now that the ten year anniversary has arrived, I decided to put together a video showing the transition:



I've also included some images showing how the project has expanded beyond the Zen garden over the years:


Zen Garden - Songni Yuan

East Gate Stroll Garden

West Entrance

Dragon's Spine

Woodland Gate

Monday, January 1, 2018

A Gate for all Seasons

Passing through the winter, there hasn't been much to do in the garden. The Woodland Gate has been holding up very well. With each change in the seasons, it has taken on a unique appearance.



I am looking forward to adding another image in the spring once the snows melt. I am also hopeful that the next summer will continue to add changes in the appearance when the Tiger Lilies I transplanted along the fence line will once again add some color.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Long Fall

This year the Dwarf Maples are doing great and have produced some wonderful colors that have survived through all of October.






Now its time to cut back some plants, rake leaves, and prepare for the long winter.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Sowing Your Oats

I decided to plant two River Mist Northern Sea Oat Grass plants near the side buttresses of the Woodland Gate. These plants like part sun and should grow to about 3' tall, 2' wide. 




I am planting two of them on a temporary basis. they may have to be moved in the future after the nearby 'Europa Gold' arborvitae (thuja occidentalis) start to grow larger.



In the meantime, these plants will act as filler near the gate.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Stepping Stones

As the summer winds down and I get ready to go back to work, the never ending gate project continues. I never thought it would take this long, but essentially the Woodland Gate, Dragon's Spine bed, and the walkway between the Woodland Gate and garden shed has taken me almost all August, and inadvertently fed into several other smaller projects as a result of moving so many plants around.

Wanting to create an authentic looking gate, I decided to add a stone based threshold. I considered several options. In the end, my decision was based on costs, time, and the materials that I was able to obtain. I chose faux textured stepping stones. At $9 each they were affordable, not too heavy, and even though cement, they looked like real stones. The conveniently flat bottoms also made it easier to install. With 42 x 34" area to work with, I purchased six stones and after trying out several patterns (had to fit within the cement footings), went with the configuration below:


It took a full day to remove all the previous pea stone that had been present. For some reason, it was full of dirt and debris. So I shoveled it all up into buckets and literally washed it all clean - a long process using an old salad strainer. My neighbors now think I am an OCD person who washes rocks in his yard (it appears I am).

Then I was able to prep the surface, smooth it out, re-work the plastic edging, and lay down new heavy duty weed fabric.



Within the stepping stone area, I dug down about six inches and laid a thick layer of crushed gravel and sand. Once the stones were carefully placed onto the sand, I then filled the edges and gaps in with a polymeric sand. Once watered, it solidified and helped hold the stones in place. Once I removed the temporary frames I used on the front and back, it was nice and solid.



I then filled in the entire area with the newly washed pea stone, even between the gaps. I also added a piece of left-over edging to the back of the stepping stone threshold to help keep the pea stones in place. Essentially, that edge is the property line, so I do not intend to extend the pea stone past that point.

I did, however, add some small pieces of curved edging and larger stones just in front of each main post. I then planted a Hosta in front of each. Yes, its off property, but I am trying to at least show the neighbor (if he ever comes out this way - he never has) that I attempted to make it look nice. All of this material for these two small features were left over, so there was no costs in doing any of this extra work.




I think it looks nice, and neighborly.

Overall, I think it came out pretty good. It took much longer than I thought, but it was worth the effort.



I'm still waiting on the two last copper post caps, and I have to dig up and relocate all those Tiger Lilies and flatten out that mound just within the woodlot on the other side of the gate, but I'm getting closer to finishing the overall gate project. Oh yea, I have to put down some mulch in some of the areas that were dug up as well. Then I'm done for the season. Just in time to start picking up falling leaves!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

On Edge

As a result of alterations is the Dragon's Spine area, I ended up with a significant number of Hosta segments that needed planting. 

I have discovered overtime, that whenever I make one change, it sets into motion a series of additional changes. In this case, the large Hosta in the Dragon's Spine area had grown too large and needed to be split. I split it into quarters, leaving one quarter in place. 

before split

after split
The other three, combined with two other Hostas I had to remove from elsewhere due to overcrowding, needed a new home. 

Problem is, I don't really have any place to locate them. I'm afraid to locate them along the back of the wood lot property line because when I do, they get eaten. So, Given that I had five Hosta, each of which had the potential to become a significantly sized plant over the next two years, I decided to place them in the main walkway near the front of the house and the main garden entrance.



There were already two Hosta hear along the edge of the garage, and a Dwarf Korean Azalea (Azalea yedoense 'Poukhanense Compacta') that I had planted last year as an experiment. 


I didn't like the way the Azalea was turning out and it was getting crushed by snow from the driveway that piled nearby during the winter. So, I removed it and placed it into a bucket for now.

Placing more Hosta starting at that point and forward towards the large red/square cement pavers made sense for two reasons: 
  1. They would grow enough to cover the line between the driveway surface and the pea stone, reducing the harsh liner break.
  2. They can be cut back in the fall so that I can continue to dump snow there without damaging a shrub.

To add a termination point, I decided to add two Dwarf Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hameln') plants on either side of the pavers creating an entry way. 


Again, the grasses can be cut back before snow falls, allowing me to continue to dump snow here during the winter.

At this point the Hosta seem odd since they are small. But next year they should fill in a bit more, but after two years they should be large enough to bring some balance to all the Hosta.


From a landscape design point of view, this plan is lame - too linear. However, from a budget point of view, it works. The only cost was the two new grass plants and my time/labor. Having a professionally built entryway connecting the garden and front door is a long way off, just too expensive. I have to save my pennies.

In the meantime, my "poor-man's walkway" is sufficient and will look less spartan with these Hosta planted.


Perhaps in the future I can add some hardscape stepping stones or pavers. Until then, looks good to me.