Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Upright Misfortune

"A domestic garden can equally be a 'Zen garden' in so much as it has a spiritual or religious significance for its owner, although he or she may be the only one who views it in that light"
Yoko Kawaguchi, Japanese Zen Gardens, p 11.

I started creating islands and setting stones along the new East Gate area. 

First I began by digging a new trench to hold the edge of 4x4 timbers I recycled from the old garage bed. My plan is to lay them parallel to the existing 6x6 timbers along the fence line. I left a 5.5 inch gap between the timbers and will lay a layer of round black Mexican stones in between. In doing so, I am trying to create an appearance similar to what I have seen along the edge of the Ryōan-ji temple Zen garden. Keep in mind, my budget doesn't allow for granite and tile edging - timbers will have to do, plus I already have them (wood is also one of the Five Elements, so it works)


According to the Sakuteiki, the first manual of Japanese gardening, one must follow the rules of setting stones of suffer misfortune. In my case, I am sure I am not adhering to the strict rules. Nevertheless, I did try to set my three stones in a way to accentuate their shape and appearance. Apparently, the most common arrangement is groups of three, one for Buddha and two for his attendants. I had three, but decided to create two separate islands for each, one smaller island for the larger stone, and another large island for the two smaller stones. What then is the symbolism from my perspective? Well, the two smaller stones are representative of my wife and I, while the large stone represents our daughter, the greatest thing in our lives.

I also deviated from the practice of setting the stones in Moss covered islands. I have no Moss and have to explore ways to grow the type of Moss that will be appropriate. Experiments with Scotch or Irish Moss in the past have not gone well. Perhaps next year I will know more about how to achieve this effect. In the meantime, I have lots of left over mulch from all the re-mulching I have done this season. So, mulch it is.

I also decided to place a plant in the smaller island with the large stone. I also intend to do something similar with the large island, but as of yet have not decided on what small plant to add.

I'm sure experts on Japanese gardens will find lots of fault with my design and decisions. However, I really don't care, as long as the design and layout works for me. So far, so good - lets hope I don't suffer any misfortune.

No comments:

Post a Comment