Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Explosion of Color

The Viridis Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum dissectum'Virdis') is really taking off with bright color this fall:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Slide Show: Plants Phase IV (Fall 2010)

During the Fall of 2010 I added many new plantings to the garden. I also started to plant in the north-east section of the garden behind the gravel driveway along the side of the garage. Eventually, I hope to close off this part of the garden with a fence/gate. Until then, I have started to place planting on eaither side and along the fence and edge of the water basin. Below are images of the new additions and changes.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Plants 2010

"...all those in the plant-and-tree realms, without exception, attain Buddhahood."

Irish Moss (Sagina subulata):

Early June

Late August

This zone 5 plant prefers shade and blooms in the spring with small white flowers. As a ground cover it spreads at a height of about 1 inch and an area of about 12 inches. I planted five small plants early in the spring and they have almost filled in the step areas where I planted them (in the spring of 2011 I added some more to the spots that remained uncovered).

Aurea Irish Moss (Sagina subulata ‘Aurea’):

This zone 5 plant is similar to the Irish Moss above but tends to form clumps. It prefers shade with some morning sunlight and blooms in the spring with small white flowers. It has a medium growth rate to about 8 inches and forms clumps about 2 inches in height. Note: I moved them from the edge of the garden to the Dragon's Spine early spring 2011.

Grace Ward Lithodora (Lithodora diffusa ‘Grace Ward’):

This zone 5 plant likes partial sun in the morning. It blooms in early spring with a bright blue flower, however, it maintained its color throughout most of the summer. It spread to about 12 inches very quickly and did well in the rock garden. However, the bloom was limited after July. Note: failed to spout in spring 2011 - moved to planters to revive without success.

Coreopsis (Coreopis verticillata ‘Zagreb’):

This zone 3-9 plant likes full to half sun. It grows to about 18 inches and blooms with a bright yellow flower. I’m taking a chance with the limited direct light, but so far one plant is doing well. I had to pot the second because of sporadic growth.

Fire Star Dianthus (Dianthus ‘Devon Xera’):

What tit should look like when in bloom (stock photo).

This zone 4 plant likes morning sun. It blooms in the spring with a red flower to about 8 inches. It looked more southwestern, but the color was nice in the garden. I only planted two near the stepping stones. Both failed to bloom in 2011 - I will probably need to move them to a sunnier spot.

Erysimum (Erysimum kotschyanum ‘Orange Flame’):

This plant likes part sun and grows to about 6 inches. It should bloom in spring. They looked nice when I planted them, but they were not doing so well by August.  (I forgot to photograph them when in bloom, this stock photo looked similar). Note: most did not return, so I replaced with annuals in the same location.

Rock Cress (Arabis caucasica):

This zone 3-7 plant flowers around late April into May with a short lived flower until June. It produces a nice white flower and I should be able to divide the plant in the late summer/early fall. It likes well drained sandy soil, but needs to be mulched over during the winter.

Snow Drop Anemone (Anemone Sylvestris)

This zone 3-7 plant should flower around May (and maybe September) with a beautiful white bloom. I thought they would look nice on either side of Buddha, so I moved some Hosta and replaced them with these perennials. Note: early spring 2011 - one plant never came back, the other eventually died without blooming.

Buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula ‘Ron WIlliams’)

This zone 8 plant likes full sun to shade. It grows to about 2’ wide by 7’ in height, and produces a fern-like foliage with an upright habit. I planted where I intent to place the fence/gate area near the northeast area of the garden, behind the gravel driveway next to the garage. They should help frame the outer publicly viewable area of the gate, but the limited hight won’t over power the fence.

Japanese Painted Fern (Athyrium nipponicum ‘Metallicum’):

I planted some of these zone 3-9, deciduous form plants, during phase I, and they did well. I am trying them out near the northeast corner, hopefully, they will do well here in spite of the fact that this area gets more sunlight. Note: one was moved to the back of the garage to make room for the S-shaped bench I installed in the spring of 2011.

White-Variegrated Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘Albo Striata’ or ‘Albo Variegata’):

This zone 6 plant is the same as the plants located behind the Buddha statue. Theis one will help frame the inside of the northeast gated area. Note: the other was moved to the back of the garage to make room for the S-shaped bench I installed in the spring of 2011.

Hosta Blue Cadet (Funkia, Plantain Lily):

This zone 3 plant likes partial shade to shade (morning sun) and will grow to about 10-12 inches. It should also offer a nice variation in color by adding a darker green to the other grasses nearby in the northeast corner of the garden.

Clumping Bamboo (Fargesia ‘rufa’):

This is the same non-invasive bamboo I planted next to the gazebo last year.  These plants should grow to about 8 feet in time and may need to be trimmed back. I may have to move the one on the right inside of the gate - too crowded already.

Silvermound /Wormwood (Artemisia schmidtiana ‘Silver Mound’):

This zone 4-8 plant like full sun to shade, but should do well in the soil near the northeast corner of the garden. The silver color should help add some variation to the other greens in the corner near the future gate.

Pink Beauty Cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa ‘Pink Beauty’):

This zone 3 plant should bloom during the summer and likes full sun. It should grow to about 3 feet, but will be easy to maintain. Note: plant was moved to the back of the garage to make room for the S-shaped bench I installed in the spring of 2011.

Daylily ( (Hemerocallis “Black Eyed Stella’ ):

This zone 3-10 plant should bloom during the summer and likes full sun. I was worried they would not bloom because of the lack of direct sun - they were planted along the edge of the garden fence in two locations that only get a bit of morning sun and some afternoon sun. However, in the summer of 2011 they did sprout blooms that lasted until early August.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Little Buddha

Had a little friend stop by to visit the garden:

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Slide Show: Plants Phase III (Spring - Summer, 2010)

During the summer of 2010 I spent most of my time building the garden fence. However, I did add some new plants, move others around, and removed some as well. Below are images of the new additions and changes.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Dharma Cowbell Chime

Picked up an Asian Style cowbell chime while vacationing in Lake Placid.

As soon as I saw it, I knew it would work well in the Zen garden, especially because of the sound. It has a nice deep tone, sort of like a gong, but not the kind you slam with a drum stick - this one is very mellow and needs significant wind to make it ring, not too loud, not too dim, just right. It also looks great.

Here is what is sounds like: Click to Listen

Here is a link to Amazon.com where you can purchase the same chime: Woodstock Dharma Cowbell

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Refurbished Bench

During the June spring clean-up day in my town I came across an old garden bench that someone was throwing out. It was falling apart, weathered grey with age, but otherwise in good condition (no rot).

So I took it home, disassembled it piece by piece, sanded it down, and then reassembled it and stained it to match the garden fence.

It looks great and coast about $30 for all the glue, dowels, sandpaper, foot stones, and stain & brush. Not bad for a 5 ft. hardwood bench that should have cost me about $400-500 (“one man’s junk, is another man’s treasure”).

It now reside along the Dragon's Spine area.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Slide Show: The Fence

Below are photos from the construction of the fence - starting with posthole digging to the final staining.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Fence

"The grass is always greener on the other side."

Shortly after starting the Zen Garden in the summer of 2009 I began thinking that a fence was needed to enclose the garden. I wanted the fence to have a Japanese style and spent much of the winter months that followed reading about traditional Japanese styles of architecture and fence construction. However the most influential source came from a website (and subsequent book) I discovered by Kieran Egan entitled: Building My Zen Garden

Mr. Egan included an illustration in his website that became the model for the fence I built.

I modified the design to work with existing lumber dimensions and I opted to use rolled split-bamboo instead of cedar boards. Doing so helped keep the costs manageable and created an excellent Asian esthetic to the fence.

Keep in mind, I know nothing about fence building, so I spent most of January to May learning what I could at the public library.

In the end, the finished fence looks great, is straight, and should last many years. During the summer of 2011 I extended the fence by three panels to the end of the gazebo area and added a Moon Window in one of the panels (see Moon Window link in the blog menu).

Friday, June 25, 2010

Tiki Lamps

I was able to purchase some japanese-looking Tiki lamps on line for the garden. 

Beside helping to keep mosquitos away, they should add a nice esthetic to the garden. Most Tiki lamps remind me of a hawaiian theme, but these really look like they could be found in a Japanese Garden.

Here is a link to the website were I made the purchase: Lamplight (Paradise Bay Torch)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Slide Show: The Dragon's Spine

Below are photos from the landscaping of the Dragon’s Spine and reworking of the house bed.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Dragon's Spine

"Where the movable and immovable meet..."

After moving much of the dirt from the Zen Garden to level off the remainder of the back yard, I needed to work on re-landscaping the property line and working it into the overall plan for the yard.

I have no intention of turning the entire yard into a Zen garden and want to limit the Japanese influence to the eastern portion of the yard where the gazebo and rock bed are located. However, the property line is still awkward, especially with all the weeds growing just off property. So, I decided to curve-up the edge into a dragon’s spine – starting near the garden shed (dragon’s tail), leading towards the gazebo (dragon’s head), with the rock bed being a further extension (dragon’s open mouth with tongue perhaps).

I was also able to obtain two large stones to place along the dragon’s spine - once in, I transplanted my clumping bamboo from last year to this spot. In time, it should create a natural fence of bamboo in front of the gazebo area providing additional privacy.

In addition, I used the Dragon’s Spine in conjunction with a reworking of the bed along the house to create a round area of grass which now acts as an additional entrance into the gazebo-garden area.

Eventually I would like to erect a Tori Gate here (another future project).