Sunday, May 13, 2018

Bamboo Switcheroo

The winter storm 
Hid in the bamboo grove 
And quieted away. 
- Basho

As usual, finding time to work in the garden hasn't been easy. Updating the vegetable garden fencing and water system has taken up all my free time these last two weeks. Today was the first chance I had to practice with a fence panel replacement in the Zen Garden.

Over the winter, the fence started to take a beating. 

I'm replacing the split bamboo with 3/4 diameter bamboo pole panels. They will be more sturdy and should last longer than the split bamboo which was held together by thin wire that has rusted over the years. The split bamboo also had a tendency to bow. It lasted over seven years, but its time for it to go (see the right side of the image below).

The new bamboo poles are solid and held together with two wires that could easily be replaced in the future. 

The test panel looks good. It was easy to come up with a quick routine for changing each panel. I will have to wait a week or more for the rest of the panels to get here.

My plan is to remove all the bamboo panels and raise up the bottom rail about 3.5 inches to accommodate the 3 ft. height of the new panels. It will result in a larger gap at the bottom, but that will make it easier to blow leaves underneath in the fall (see image above). I will then re-stain the fence before putting in the bamboo panels. 

Its been almost 8 years, and the fence needs a new staining - its starting to fade. I built the fence so that I can easily accommodate the new panels. The major task is raising the bottom rail. After the new panels are in, I will coat the bamboo poles with a protective stain. 

Completing the entire fence is going to take some time. I will work on it when I can. I am hoping that I will be finished by mid July - the height of the garden's bloom.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Early Moss

The temperature finally broke the 60 degrees barrier today, the first day in April where it wasn't in the 30s. There was a lot of yard work to be done, mostly gathering up piles of leaves that did not get raked back in the fall. After raking up some leaves, I decided to cut back the Super Blue Liriope (Liriope mascara 'Super Blue') along the edge of the stroll garden. I then moved on to cut back the dead shoots on all of the bamboo plants throughout the garden. In addition, I trimmed the dead wood off the red dwarf maple along the Dragon's Spine.

I was about to finish up, when I realized that the area behind the fence, in the woodlot, had a lot of moss growing about. Being early in the spring, there wasn't a lot of weed growth yet, so, I decided that it would be a good time to harvest up some of the moss and use it within the Zen garden.

When I first built the garden, I had attempted to grow moss along the stone stairway at the center point of the garden. At that time, there were circular granite steps. Unfortunately, the store bought Scotch Moss never took, even after several years of trying. 

Given my success using moss from the wood lot in the stroll garden, I thought it would be worth a try to use the same moss on the steps. 

First, I had to remove all of the pea stone that was in place between the rocks. 

Next, I broke up the large sections of the moss I had harvested, and placed it in the spaces between and around the stone steps.

I then gave it a good watering to help it take. So far, I think it looks nice.

This area will get plenty of moister once the sprinklers come on later in the season. I will need to keep it under control over time to make sure it doesn't spread too far or cover the rocks. I want to keep the stones visible and I don't want them to become a slippery hazard.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Spring Delayed

It's the first week of April, but it feels more like February. Spring isn't showing up early as hoped and the weather for the next couple of weeks looks like more of the same - cold and wet (with some snow in between).

In the meantime, I am getting ready for the Woodland Gate doors I was planning. First, I located an image of the style I liked:

 Next, I began making detailed plans and drawings for all the measurements:

I've already purchased the wood, and the one inch diameter bamboo poles I will be using for the face are ordered and should arrive within two weeks. Here it was I hope it looks like when done:

The plan is to use half-lap joints for the main frame. This should hold it together well, however, I am worried about using screws. I don't want to see them on the frame face and finding a short enough length could be an issue after joining the pieces to together with lap joints. I might use staples instead, combined with glue, that might work. I could also drill out holes for dowels - this might be a more authentic way to proceed since it won't require any screws. I will decide after I get all the pieces cut and dry fitted.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Winter Wonderland

We have been receiving a lot of snow this winter. Several storms have each dumped 15 inches in just the last month. This is actually good for the major shrubs - the slow dripping of the melt will ensure that roots are watered and reduce the likelihood of plants drying out. Additionally, we have had some wonderful views of the garden covered in snow.

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.