Posts from the ‘travel’ category

A great place to visit and a very Happy Thanksgiving!

A very Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

The beautiful view of the Bay from the rose garden.

The beautiful view of the Bay from the rose garden.

There’s a lot to be thankful for living in the San Francisco Bay area. Not only the beautiful scenery around every corner – bridges, parks, overlooks- but the weather as well. Right now I’m definitely thankful we’ve been having some pretty consistent rain storms. This Thanksgiving the forecast is projected as picture perfect, which I’m also thankful for. Although, I think by Saturday another storm is predicted to hit us so let’s make the most of Thursday and Friday. If black Friday shopping is not high on your list of to dos with your family and out of town guests – I want to share with you a little gem I discovered recently, even though it’s been located right in my back yard forever. It’s the University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley!

 

The redwood forest

The redwood forest

I always love seeing water lillies

I always love seeing water lillies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I recently made a trip there with my mom and sister. We met there one afternoon because we all work close by and had all never been. I was completely surprised by the magnitude of the botanical garden, I had always just assumed it was a small university garden and boy was I wrong. There is so much to explore there, we didn’t even make it to all the gardens because it was the end of the day. The Botanical garden features a collection of plants from the Mediterranean, Asia, Southern Africa, South America, Australia, Mexico/Central America, Eastern North America, the New World Desert and California, not to mention several special collections including an arid house and a beautiful rose garden. It really is quite a collection of species.

 

The flowering Puya

The flowering Puya

I stepped back a little so you can see the whole height.

I stepped back a little so you can see the whole height.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One main reason we finally made it to the UC botanical garden is because they have a very special natural event happening right now, their Puya Raimondii, or Queen of the Andes, is blooming! The Puya raimondii is the largest bromeliad species in the world, classified as a terrestrial bromeliad because it has its roots in the soil. The flower stalk can reach upwards of 30 feet and produce over ten thousand flowers. After flowering and setting seeds, the plant will die. Flowering for these plants “in captivity” is very rare and typically they do not flower until they are about 80 – 100 years old. The Puya at the UC Botanical garden is a young 24 years old, so many are unsure why it is flowering so early, but they all exclaim it is a unique, possibly once in a lifetime experience to see. In fact blooms of a plant this young have never been recorded. It is truly a natural phenomenon occurring right here in our backyard!

 

So if you’re looking for something fun to do in this gorgeous California weather this Thanksgiving weekend consider a trip to the UC Botanical garden. There is so much to explore and definitely something for everyone to enjoy, especially the Puya Raimondii. The park is closed Thanksgiving day, but is back to regular operating hours Friday, 9 am to 5 pm, click here for some helpful hints in planning your trip!

Symmetry

One of the most important principles in achieving balance in a garden is symmetry.   Balance through symmetry can be divided into two schools of thought – Asymmetrical Balance and Symmetrical Balance.

Asymmetrical balance is actually being unbalanced, abstract, or free while still creating unity and balance through the repetition of some garden elements.  Asymmetrical balance is more difficult to perceive and that is the point, it is more natural and relaxed.

Symmetrical balance is where all of the elements of the garden design are equally divided.  Both sides share the same shape, form, plant height, color or planting bed shape.  Symmetrical balance was very popular during the Renaissance period where entire gardens were mirror images from one side to the other.  Formal gardens are almost always symmetrical and give the feeling of stability and order.

Last week I spent a long weekend in New Orleans to attend the California Landscape Contractors Association’s annual convention.  While there, I spent an afternoon enjoying a walk through the famed Garden District.  The Garden District was originally developed between 1832 and 1900 and is considered to be one the best preserved collections of historic southern mansions in the United States.

While taking a stroll along the tree shaded streets I could not help but notice the strong use of architectural symmetry for most of the homes.  Many of the front yard gardens reflected the symmetry of the house.  Most of the homes had nearly perfect symmetry also referred to as “bilateral symmetry” in which both sides are essentially the same but reversed.

Here are two clear examples where the symmetrical house façade is allowed to shine by keeping the landscape to a minimum.  Architecturally strong containers and plant material compliment the design.

12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These two homes are also symmetrical but rely on the plantings to continue the symmetrical theme yet soften the façade by using a variety of planting textures and leaf color.

34

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this scenario the landscape planting is not only symmetrical but also an extremely formal feeling with its clipped hard edge.

56

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, as these photos show, the use of symmetry can even be seen in New Orleans’ most famous landmark, the St. Louis Cathedral.   The symmetry is carried into Jackson Square by the plantings and utility fixtures.

78

 

 

 

 

 

 

Symmetry is a powerful tool in the designers list of design principles.  If you are looking for a formal setting, one that contains a sense of order and balance, symmetry is the way to go.

Yosemite Surreal

IMG_0069

IMG_0070

For the past four years, we’ve taken off after Christmas to enjoy the winter beauty in Yosemite. This year was different. I am usually awestruck at the beauty of the snow blanketing the valley floor, and the white puffy marshmallow caps on every granite boulder. This year, I was awestruck by the charred trees and glowing hue of red and brown surrounding us as we drove through the mountains. The snow was missing this year. It couldn’t mask the devastation of the Rim Fire last fall. For a moment I had to remember that these trees were supposed to be evergreen. As we drove the windy road the trees changed from green, to brown, then to black. The pines and redwoods on the edges of the char zones had brown needles, but the trunks still looked alive. These, we heard from the ranger, would probably make it. Then, as we proceeded further, I could see the graceful branching structure of the native Manzanita bushes. They are known for their oil-filled, smooth, mahogany branches, which were still identifiably graceful, but now black charcoal. It felt like we were walking through the aftermath of a volcanic eruption. Noisy logging trucks pulling long beds of black tree trunks would pass us now and again as we made our way to the valley floor. Along the road, fresh straw-filled netted worms were laid on slopes to prevent erosion due to lack of vegetation. The shiny new metal towers connecting power lines stood out like sore thumbs.

 

IMG_0086

 

As we passed through the dark granite tunnels which opened up to views of the valley, it was surreal to see that nothing had changed. The view of Half Dome looming over the Merced River, framed by Seqouoias and Redwoods was just as breathtaking as the years before. The missing blanket of snow revealed the grass in the valley was brown but lush. For the first time, I started appreciating the lack of snow. We would not have been able to see the power of the Rim Fire, nor appreciate the immense beauty of the valley floor it spared.

IMG_0055

IMG_0066

IMG_0037

IMG_0073

IMG_0084

Here’s some more information about the Rim Fire in Yosemite http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/01/140120-rim-fire-restoration-forest-ecology-science/

 

Fall in Giardino Giusti

Fall has always been my favorite time of year. The changing weather, changing color and desire for soup, tea, & red wine – all things that bring a smile to my face and make me enjoy this time of year a little more. It also reminds me of my fall spent studying abroad in Italy. I was fortunate enough to get to travel the country (and many nearby countries) and it was called fall quarter 2005. One of my favorite trips was a weekend adventure to the city of Verona, Italy with a couple of girlfriends.

We rented an apartment there and had no plan, although we knew we had to visit Juliet’s (of Romeo and Juliet) house – that was definitely on our to-do list, along with exploring another amazing city in Italy. We asked the local man who let us into our apartment what we should do while we were there. He responded (not knowing that we were landscape architecture students) that we needed to visit Giardino Giusti, one of Italy’s most beautiful Renaissance gardens, which happened to just be up the street. We had no idea, but am I so glad we didn’t miss out on visiting this lush, green garden (I mean ultimately we were there to study Landscape Architecture).

Palazzo Giusti  Verona, Italy

Palazzo Giusti
Verona, Italy

Beyond the Garden Wall

Beyond the Garden Wall

Once we got to the garden, we realized we were familiar with it from our history of Landscape Architecture class and text book from a previous quarter.

Giardino Giusti was built in the 16th Century as part of Giusti Palazzo, or Palace. It is a perfect example of an Italian garden.

Cypress lined avenue

Cypress lined avenue

Complete with Cypresses lining the main avenue, formal areas of boxwoods in mazes, and complete with oversized marble statues.

Boxwood mazes

Boxwood mazes

Marble statues

Marble statues

The garden terrace up the hill, at the very top is the great “Maskeron,” an oversized mask sculpture that provides a terrace with great vistas to view the entire city.

The great maskeron

The great maskeron

Views of Verona Italy from the maskeron

Views of Verona Italy from the maskeron

It is a beautiful Italian garden not to be missed. While in Italy we went to many beautiful gardens for class, including Villa d’este, Villa Lante and the entire region of Tuscany, where we were lucky to call home for three months, but Giardino Giusti was definitely one of my favorite adventures during my Fall in Italy.

Fall color at Giardino Giusti in Verona, Italy

Fall color at Giardino Giusti in Verona, Italy

Flower Color at Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens covers more than 55 acres of a 130 acre estate.  Today the gardens consist of five major garden styles – The Sunken Garden, Rose Garden, Japanese Garden, Italian Garden and the Mediterranean Garden.

Each of these gardens contains a skillful combination of rare and exotic shrubs, trees and flowers.  Many of these were collected by the But chart’s during their extensive world travels.  The garden was continually expanded over the years to become world famous.

Beds1

Beds2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the most fascinating items about the gardens is the wonderful use of flower color.  Within the meticulously cared for flower beds you will find large drifts of single flower color as well as the more interesting mixed flower color combinations.

The rich color combinations used throughout the gardens brings to mind the meaning of flower color.  While doing some research I came across these interesting facts.

Every flower color offers a rich and meaningful story dating back centuries.  Today their meanings and symbolisms still play an important role in garden design.  Here is a list of flower color and their meanings.

White – Often associated with innocence, humility and reverence.  In these flower beds white flowers are used as low growing carpets of color and as tall accent color.

White1

White2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pink – When you think of pink you think of grace, gentility and happiness.  Pink can be used on its own or with silver leaf plants for a soft elegant look.

Pink1

Pink2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red – Full of energy and represents desire, strength and passionate love.  Red is one color that can hold its own in the garden and does not need to be combined with another color.

Red1

Red2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Purple – The origins are tied to royalty it represents dignity, pride and success.  Purple flowers range from the soft purple to dark indigo.

Purple1

Purple2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blue – Symbolizes peace, serenity and openness.  There are few true blue flowers.  However, many flowers have blue tones.

Blue1

Blue2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lavender – Similar to pink, lavender also represents refinement, grace and elegance, but at a more sophisticated level.  Whether used alone or in combination with another color, lavender flowers give a garden a soft sophisticated feel.

Lavender1

Lavender2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orange – Nothing is bashful about the color orange.  Orange symbolizes energy, enthusiasm and warmth.  Orange always “pops” in the garden and when used in combination with purple the energy level is raised.

Orange1

Orange2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yellow – Evokes feelings of joy and new beginnings.   When yellow flowers are used in mass planting they become the stars of the garden.

Yellow1

Yellow2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Green – Represents health, resilience and good fortune.  Although not a common flower color several shades of green are possible.  Keep in mind certain Moss gardens consist only of shades of green.

Green1

Green2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next time you are planning the color scheme of your garden keep in mind the symbolism behind each flower color.  The color symbolisms are closely tied to our emotions and will influence the feeling the garden evokes.  Do you want your garden to be soft and introspective or wild and full of energy?  Or perhaps you are looking for a happy medium between the two extremes.

Public Planting in Seattle

Hosta planted outside Seattle's Link lightrail system

Hosta planted outside Seattle’s Link lightrail system

IMG_1895

Climbing hydrangea crawling up fence outside Seattle’s lightrail system

On a recent trip to Seattle I was amazed at the health and vigor of the landscape around every corner. Most shocking were plants being used in public spaces. Who would ever expect to see hostas or climbing hydrangea planted outside our BART stations? I know it rains a lot in Seattle, but I saw the benefit of all this water on my latest trip as the plants were about to explode into Spring. Everyday was refreshed with a sprinkling of rain that cleaned off the buildings and sidewalks and plumped up all the plants to create a lush and verdant landscape, even in the crack of a sidewalk. Plants I am used to seeing around the Bay Area, like Heuchera and Iberis were triple and quadruple the size! Red and yellow tulips were in every front yard and being used in container planting at the nearby shopping center. The container plants didn’t seem to be suffering from container syndrome…scraggly plants that struggle to find enough water and nutrients in their confined prisons.

IMG_1872

IMG_1868IMG_1876IMG_1878

Hanging gardens adorned even simple metal rails dividing pedestrian and vehicular traffic that looked so indulgent. It was apparent that a lot of care goes into the public planting spaces in Seattle. But the plant selection and vigor come from the heavy doses of water Seattle is known for. I won’t change my watering times or start inserting Hostas frivolously into Bay Area gardens, but I will try to visit Seattle more when I need a dosage of guilt-free planting indulgence.

IMG_1881

Pedestrian and vehicular traffic are separated by a metal rail dripping with plants

IMG_1902

Iberis (Candytuft) smothering a stone wall

IMG_1856

Hearst Castle and Landscape Maintenance

As Maintenance Manager at Lazar Landscape for the past year, I have come to view gardens differently.  I now have more respect and understanding for what goes on “behind the scenes” of a beautiful garden.  It’s easy to view and experience a beautiful garden and forget how much effort and planning it takes to keep it looking its best.  All gardeners feel a certain amount of pressure to create and maintain a garden that will impress family and friends.  I can only imagine what it must be like to oversee and maintain a garden that is viewed by almost a million people per year.

One such garden is the beautifully landscaped grounds of Hearst Castle.  The architect Julia Morgan designed Hearst Castle and the garden between 1919 and 1947 for the newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst.  Hearst died in 1951 and the Hearst Corporation donated the property to the state of California in 1957.

IMG_9124IMG_9127

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the state of California began the stewardship of Hearst Castle in 1957 the head gardener was Norman Rotanzi.  Rotanzi maintained Hearst’s original design intent and created a legacy of preservation that today’s garden staff is still striving to fulfill.

On a recent visit to Hearst Castle, I noted both the wide variety of plant species and the healthy appearance of the garden.  Being familiar with landscape maintenance, I realized that what I was experiencing was the culmination of years of both planning and study.

As with most gardens, plant maturation and mortality pose major challenges to the gardener.  Over the years, the staff at Hearst Castle has witnessed both the drama of storms blowing down old trees as well as the inevitable conversion of sunny areas to shade gardens.  Most of us can relate to this, even in our own small and modest gardens.

Complicating the effects of nature and time upon the gardens of Hearst Castle was its designation as a National Historic Landscape in 1976.  This further challenged the garden maintenance, as now the garden staff had to be in accordance with the standards imposed by the landmark status.

IMG_9129IMG_9126

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just as Lazar Landscape does with a new garden maintenance client, a thorough study of Hearst Castle garden was completed.  This 1994 study identified the preservation and maintenance requirements of the Hearst Castle garden.  Plants, terraces, walkways, roads and buildings were surveyed and accurately mapped during this study.  Plants were identified and their conditions evaluated.  Following this study, a team of consultants developed a detailed plan for on-going landscape preservation.

The detailed research carried out by the Hearst Castle garden staff used old photographs, historical records, and letters written by William Randolph Hearst and Julia Morgan.

In addition to the Landscape Preservation Plan, a Landscape Management Plan was established to define proper procedures for fertilization, irrigation, pruning and the control of disease and pests.  All gardeners have their own methods for addressing the above procedures insuring that they have a beautiful and healthy garden.  Even if your own garden is not visited by a million people per year, you still want to have a maintenance plan in place so, at the very least, you are impressed with your own “castle grounds”.

Fieldtrip! CornerStone, Sonoma

Ready for the GardensOne of our New Year’s resolution as a design team here at Lazar Landscape is to take advantage of the many landscape related daytrip opportunities available to us in the San Francisco Bay area to spend time together as a team, to gain inspiration and insight for our designs, and mostly to have fun. Our first fieldtrip was to CornerStone in Sonoma, California. The weather gods were kind to us as we strolled through the gardens and surrounding shops.

Earth WalkIf you don’t know about CornerStone, it’s a large gallery of display gardens by local and world renowned landscape architects and designers. The landscape installations change often, so there’s always something new and interesting. If you’re a garden lover planning a trip to the Sonoma wine country, it’s worth stopping by. Admission to the gardens at CornerStone is free. On a beautiful day you can spend hours strolling through the widely varied landscape installations that range from high concept spaces like Pamela Burton’s installation ‘Earthwalk,’ to more natural installations by John Greelee and James Van Sweden, to very utilitarian installations like ‘Attention! Potager’ by Scott Daigre, and a children’s garden by MIG that was quite appealing.garden play

IMG_1219Group favorite installations were ‘Rise’ by Planet Horticulture who always delivers with their amazing plant combinations, and ‘In the Air’ by Conway Cheng Chang. When we think about gardens and landscapes enriching and nurturing our senses, we commonly think about what we see, smell and touch. With a simple construction of culms from Bambusa oldhamii (Giant Timber Bamboo) on a metal frame, Chang constructed an organic flute of sorts that uses the wind in the Sonoma Valley to create simple, beautiful organic sounds. It inspired me to find ways to bring sound into my design to complete the sensory stimulation.

Conway Cheng Chang

reflectingWhen you go, make time for the reflecting pond – a permanent element at CornerStone. It’s the point where the landscaped elements end and the rolling hills and agricultural surroundings begin. I love the meditative quality of a good reflecting pond, and I used those few moments to, well reflect, on how fortunate I am to do the work I do with the people I get to work with.

funky faux boistwo bull dozersThere are great shops surrounding the landscapes at CornerStone. I found an amazing faux bois (or funky concrete tree as I like to call it) at Artefact – and get lots of ideas and goodies from PotterGreen, and the sculptures at New Leaf Gallery pull you into the actual landscape installations at CornerStone. There are also Sonoma wineries represented, so you can kick of your wine tasing right at CornerStone.

whimsychildren's garden

Whether you spend an hour or four, CornerStone is a great stop on any trip to Sonoma wine country.

Grapevines in the Garden

Living in San Francisco is enjoyable and exciting but sometimes you need to get out and explore the outlying areas.   We are blessed with the fact that no matter in which direction we drive we will not be disappointed.  This past weekend I headed north to the Napa Valley.  The drive through the Valley holds a particular charm this time of year.  The light is clear and intense, highlighting the stark contrast between the meticulously pruned grapevines running through a carpet of the neon yellow mustard.  You can’t help but be calmed by the rhythm of a vineyard as it glides along the surface of the hills and valleys.

Spring time in the Napa Valley

Spring time in the Napa Valley

Grape Vineyards after winter pruning

Grape Vineyards after winter pruning

Capturing this feeling at any scale is feasible.  With careful planning, a small vineyard is possible even in a residential garden or suburban hillside.  Following a few basic guidelines will allow you to enjoy the beauty of a small vineyard and also provide you with grapes for eating or wine making.

Grapevines do best in full sun, which means about 7 to 8 hours per day.  Less light can lead to a multitude of problems including lower fruit production, poorer fruit quality or increased powdery mildew.  The site should have good airflow and a southern exposure.  A gently sloping site with southern exposure is ideal as this typically has the warmest temperatures.

Grapevines will grow and produce fruit on a wide range of soil types.  If it is wine you are after, the best wine quality often comes from vines that are grown on less fertile and rocky soils.  This is because less fertile soils often produce smaller grapes.  This is desired for winemaking because it gives a greater skin to juice ratio.  For table grapes, where large fruit is desirable, deep, rich soils are preferred.  Keep in mind that rich soils will also produce rampant vegetative growth.

Just as important is good drainage.  Avoid heavy clay or waterlogged sites.  Roots tend to grow deep; some can reach 15 feet deep, although most of the roots can be found in the top 3 feet of soil.  Before planting, you may want to have a soil test done to check pH and organic matter levels.  Apply the recommended soil amendments as needed.

One of the first questions to ask, if you are looking for more that just a few vines, is “How much space do I need?”  Grapevines are planted in rows that can be as little as 8 feet apart.  Vine (post) spacing within the row can be 6 to 9 feet apart.  North-south rows maximize sun exposure.  Northeast-southeast rows reduce sunburn problems in warm climates.

The best time to plant the vines is in early spring.  The vines can be purchased as bare-root or as potted plants.  Planting holes should be dug 1 – 1 ½ feet away from the post.  If you are planting potted plants, before you place the plant in the hole, gently pull and straighten the roots so that they will spread out inside the hole.  The top growth of the plant should be cut back so that it has 2 or 3 buds and positioned at an angle towards the post.

Due to the fact that grape leaves are prone to fungal diseases, it is best to water the vines at the soil line and not overhead.  Drip irrigation is the best choice.  Set up a drip irrigation emitter at the base of each plant.  With the water supplied directly to the root zone, there will be less water lost to evaporation.

Remove weeds from around the base of plants by either hand pulling or with a garden hoe.  Keep at least a two-foot area weed-free around the trunk.  If using a string trimmer for weeding, be sure not to get too close and cause damage to the trunk.

Don’t expect fruit right away.  During the first three years after planting, the vines are establishing their roots and growing the stems.  Fruit production generally occurs in the fourth or fifth year after planting.  The vines should be allowed to grow wild during the first year.  Pruning should begin the second season and take place in the winter or very early spring, before the buds begin to swell. Properly pruning the vines is important in order to get maximum fruit production.  Since fruit is produced on new growth you should prune the old wood to two to three buds every year.  This will stimulate the new growth.  In a small garden, restricting the size of the plant can be important.

 

Three types or species of grapes are available today:

–        American varieties (Vitis labrusca), such as Concord and Niagara

–        European varieties (Vitis vinifera), which for the most part are the wine, table and raisin cultivars grown in California

–        American hybrids, which are crosses of European and American species

 

In general, American types are more cold-hardy than European varieties.  European varieties generally require a longer growing season to mature their fruit, making them ideal for California gardens.  However, most grape varieties need some summer heat to produce good quality fruit.

We have all seen the yellow mustard plants in-between the rows of grapes or the roses planted at the edge of a vineyard and wondered why.  The reasons are that the mustard plants are there to help add vital supplements to the soil.  Mustards also contain high levels of “biofumigants” that suppress nematode populations.  Roses planted at the end of the vine rows are there to give early warning of mildew problems.

Before: Sunny Hillside perfect for grape vineyards

Before: Sunny Hillside perfect for grape vineyards

After: Grape vineyards designed by Lazar Landscape, installed by other

After: Grape vineyards designed by Lazar Landscape, installed by other

If you have always wanted to have a vineyard on your property or maybe just a few grapevines contact Lazar Landscape.  We will guide you through the process of selecting the best site, proper installation and maintenance of the vines.  Nothing says ‘California Lifestyle’ better than serving table grapes or a bottle of wine that originated from your own garden.

Hakone Garden

view of pond from above
Last week I was driving along Skyline Boulevard because I love the dramatic changes the road weaves you through. From the moist, musky, shade of the towering redwoods to the exposed rocky meadows, driving along this mountain ridge is powerful. I drove all the way to Saratoga and encountered Hakone Gardens. I had read about this Japanese garden years before and its majestic bamboo collection, but I never made it out because it seemed too far. Over 100 years old, and the oldest Japanese garden in the western hemisphere, this was definitely worth the wait.

Evergreen Bamboo grove

Evergreen Bamboo grove

bamboo grove path

Rare Turtle Shell Bamboo

Rare Turtle Shell Bamboo

Even in January, the beauty of Hakone Gardens was breathtaking. The evergreen shrubs, like the camellia plant had a few white blossoms hanging on their branches but for the most part, the show-stopping plants were asleep. The bones of this garden were evident and harmonious. Fusing art with nature is the guiding principle in Japanese garden design. With the patience of time, expert craftspeople, designers, builders, and fine gardeners, Hakone Gardens has created a sense of peace and purpose in the middle of residential Saratoga.
view of waterfall
The heart of Hakone Gardens centers around the waterfall and expansive pond. Mimicking streams flowing into lakes, this water feature feels like it was created by Mother Nature. There aren’t any awkward boulders in straight lines, or exposed tubes showing the innards of how this thing works. Carefully placed boulders of different sizes were carefully carved into the hillside. With time, the evergreen shrubs grew in around the boulders to nestle them in even more. Koi were keeping warm by the viewing pavilion as there was a sheet of ice formed on the surface of the pond. I can only imagine what the viewing pavilion looks and smells like in the spring when the wisteria is in bloom.
deciduous bonsai
The skeletons of the carefully manicured bonsai were living sculptures. Without the leaves to cover up the intricate branch structure, I was able to appreciate the time and effort spent on each offshoot. Evergreen shrubs are the workhorses in Hakone Gardens all year long, while the deciduous plants that change color and lose their leaves in the winter provide seasonal beauty and interest.

Zen Garden - view the raked gravel mimicking water flowing

Zen Garden – view the raked gravel mimicking water flowing

Another guiding principle in Japanese garden design is the importance of creating harmony through materials that are not too loud. Worn, unfinished wood from the Moon House does not compete with the evergreen shrubs and groundcovers that surround it. Bursts of color come throughout the seasons, never all at once. This is so that you can appreciate the cascade of purple blooms on the wisteria vines in spring and the camellia blooms in winter. Evergreen shrubs of osmanthus release the perfume of apricots all year long next to the tea house even though you can barely see the flowers.

Fragrant Osmanthus flowers next to the tea house perfume the air

Fragrant Osmanthus flowers next to the tea house perfume the air

This surprise encounter with Hakone Gardens was better than if I were to have ever planned it. I can’t wait to go back in the spring!

Deciduous Wisteria vines cover this arbor walkway and will erupt in purple blossoms in Spring

Deciduous Wisteria vines cover this arbor walkway and will erupt in purple blossoms in Spring