Friday, July 29, 2011


"Mundane on the outside, sacred on the inside."


What is a Japanese gate? Wikipedia offers us a description:

“Unlike gates of secular buildings, most temple and shrine gates are purely symbolic elements of liminality, as they cannot be completely closed and just mark the transition between the mundane and the sacred. In many cases, for example that of the sanmon, a temple gate has purifying, cleansing properties.”

I liked this description because it embodies exactly what I had in mind when I finished building the fence in the summer of 2010 and knew that I would eventually have to fully enclose the garden - mundane on the outside, sacred on the inside. The problem was what style of gate to use.

The images below were ones I came across on the web that reflected traditional Japanese styles:

The last one above (curved roof) came from a website called Woodshop Creative Builders, a company that sells kits for a variety of Japanese style structures, including gates. Financially, purchasing a custom kit was out of the question (I’m too poor). However, their design was similar to the ones I came across online (see images below).

Although I really liked the roof, my do-it-yourself budget wasn’t going to allow for the expense of such as structure (nor do I think I would have received a permit from the town). Instead, I opted to use the basic frame, but without a roof. As a result, my gate looks more like a an arbor entry way. Again, I was inspired by gate images I came across on the web:

So, here is my basic design for the gate in the back of the garden (far side - not between the house and garage):

It is off center because it’s actually centered on the gravel driveway along side the garage (three feet from the fence line on the right and about five feet from the garage wall on the left (along which a two foot rock bed lays - eventually to be planted with large Hosta).

Here are some images of the early construction and near complete gate:

Almost done - need some more bamboo for the left panel, copper caps for the support posts, flashing for the arbor posts, and some touch up stain.

Unfortunately, between the Moon Window extension and this arbor entry way, I went over my allotted garden budget for the summer. Two gates will eventually be added, but probably not until summer 2012. In the mean time, I will be reading up on how to build gate doors.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Plants 2011 (spring to mid-Summer)

“A garden is a thing of beauty, and a job forever.”

Hosta (Plantain Lilly ‘Hush Puppies’):

This zone 3-8 plant is different than other Hosta in the garden. It grows to only 6” tall and about 12-14” wide. It likes partial shade and will do well in a rock garden Hence I tucked it into a spot that allows for some growth and that will allow the plant to fill in an edge area.

Montana Sandwort (Arenaria montana):

This zone 4 plant likes morning sunlight only. As a low growing evergreen perennial it will form a cushion of dark green foliage to about 4” x 12”. It will bloom spring to summer with star shaped white flowers.

Sea Thrift (Armeria maritima ‘Morning Star White’):

This plant likes full sun and grows to about 6 inches. I planted two on the northern edge of the garden (the sunnier side) in two clumps. However, I moved one to the southern edge in mid-July. I liked the white pom-pom bloom.

Rosa Stolz (Armeria juniperifolia ‘Rosa Stolz’):

This zone 4-8 plant likes full sun and grows to about 6-8 inches. I originally planted on the northern edge of the garden (the sunnier side) near the Sea Thrift (above), but then moved it to the southern edge in mid-July. It has a similar pom-pom bloom, but should be a more purplish color. It will adapt to poor , dry soil, as well as attract butterflies.

Japanese Sedge Grass (Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’):

This zone 5 plant likes partial shade and moist well drained soil. It should grow to about 12 x 18 inches. It should make for some nice variation with the other Japanese grasses currently in the garden.

Happy Returns Daylily (Hemerocallis):

This zone 3 plant likes full sun to part shade. I planted three along the northern, sunnier, edge of the garden near the retaining wall. They are classified as a miniature daylily and grow to about 18 inches. Yellow blooms emerged in July and and should re-bloom.

Campanula Carpatica (Carpathian Harebell ‘Blue Chips’):

This plant likes partial sun to shade. I planted it near the retaining wall, just below the Mioshi post lantern. It contains violet-blue cup-shaped flowers on a mounding plant and should bloom from June to october. It should only grow to about 10 x 12 inches.

Assorted Annuals:

This year I decided to add a variety of annuals to the garden as a means of adding some color. Doing so allows me to experiment a bit and change the garden without drastically altering the nature of the Japanese theme set by the perennials.

Profusion Fure Zinnia

Dreamland Yellow Zinnia.
Note: Did great throughout July and the killed by a
second round of hungry slugs at the start of August.

Dahlia (Harlequin Mix)

Wonderland White/Mix Alyssum. 
Note: the plantings near the Buddha were assaulted by a
second round of hungry slugs at the start of August, partially survived and then completely died by August 19.

Plants that did not survive (mostly due to slugs - summer, 2011 has been a tough season):

Columbine (Aquilegria hybrid ‘Origami Red & White’)
Note: killed by hungry slugs.

Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium boreale ‘San Juan Skies,’ ‘Iceberg Point’)
Note: damaged by hungry slugs moved to pot where it died.

Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium caeruleum ‘Brise d’Anjou’)
Note: damaged by hungry slugs moved to pot where it died.

Hosta (‘Miss Linda Smith’)
Note: killed by some creature that dug out and ate the rootball.

Dwarf Fan Columbine (Aquilegia flabellata, dwarf Fan Columbine, ‘Cameo Mix’)
Note: damaged by hungry slugs moved to pot where it died.

Salsa Verde Sedium (Sedum makinoi)
Note: killed by a second round of hungry slugs.