Monday, May 26, 2014

Pine Mud's Garden

Last summer, after much reflection, I finally decided on a name for the garden. I didn't want something that sounded like a housing development (Cedar Crest). I wanted a local name that embodied the location, but there wasn't much to pick from in my home town. We are not in the Adirondacks, so no camp names would work. I also wanted something that fit the Asian characteristics I incorporated into the garden and its features. However, the garden is a mix of Japanese and Chinese elements, so finding an appropriate name was not easy.

In the end, I decided on the simplest and most obvious name:

Songni Yuan

Simple translation: Pine Mud Garden (or more appropriately, Pine Mud's Garden). 

Why not? After all, I had poured years of my life into building the garden and Pine Mud has been my Chinese name since 1985 (read What's in a Name? - the story of how I received my Chinese name). The garden is more than my hobby, its my sanctuary. I also thought the characters that make up my Chinese name were appropriate - the "Mud" (water and earth) gives life to the "Pine" (wood) and all three of these elements exist through this symbiotic relationship. My own relationship with the garden is very similar. The pine tree is a symbol of longevity, and the garden has done much to help me heal over these last couple of years - it gives me life, and in turn I help it to blossom and grow. We need each other. 

With the name decided, I then had to think about how I would display the name. I thought it would be appropriate to place a plaque at the entrance. Something carved in stone, like I had seen at the Tenshin'en (Garden of the Heart of Heaven) at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts would be nice, but it was beyond my budget.

Instead, I decided on the natural element of wood. Problem was, where in my home town was I going to find someone who could carve a wooden sign with Chinese characters? There wasn't anyone. Fortunately, I had an alternative - my daughter. She was in Taiwan for the summer as part of her study of Chinese. After a few Skype calls, she was able to find a local carpenter who crafted a small and larger version of the sign. The large sign was significantly heavy and my daughter had to carry it back with her from Taiwan in her backpack - no easy task. 

All winter long I stared at the sign thinking about how I might mount it. At first I thought I would just attach it to a post or hang it from the fence. However, the sign was too nice and I wanted it to be protected from the elements so it would last. In the end, I was able to use leftover posts and boards from the fence construction projects. I fashioned a small hanging post structure with a roof similar to the fence. I then attached it to two small stone feet (pavers). 

Rather than dig post holes and permanently mount it, I decided to make it so I could move it and take it in during the winter months. This gives me the option of moving the structure if, at a later date, I don't like the location. It also ensures that the sign will last for years to come.

I've decided to locate the sign to the right of the main garden entrance. Here it will be visible to all who enter or pass by.

I will need to relocate the one Hosta so I can put the sign back a bit further, closer to the fence, but still at an angle. I will probably replant the Hosta just in front of the sign, or perhaps to the other side along side the other Hosta - I'm not sure yet.

I still have to stain the frame and roof green to match the fence. I might also sink the pavers just enough to cover them over with pea stone. I will have a better idea what to do once I move the plants.

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