The main walkway coursing through the garden

The main walkway coursing through the garden

It’s now late January, during a real cold snap at 14’F, with icy conditions from a couple of snowy inches we got a few days ago. It was just enough to make the garden and trees look pretty, before it all froze into sheets of ice. And there’s more on the way. I’m sitting here all bundled up, and finally getting warm since I reluctantly raised the heat (ignoring my Swamp Yankee tendencies to just add more layers. Something of a New Englander’s point of pride.)

Days like this make poring over the seed catalogs that much more enjoyable. This is the time of year when gardeners and farmers start thinking about the coming spring’s plantings and placing their seed orders. I remember meeting with gardener friends over tea or lunch, swapping catalogs and combining orders, chatting merrily about creating new garden beds or marking calendars for the next garden tour. It was a lotta fun in a geeky sort of way.

Tea House exterior

Tea House exterior

These days, now that my garden is large, I prefer to seek out gardens to admire rather than plant more of my own. Japanese Gardens have become my absolute favorite style, edging out the lovely English cottage gardens I used to swoon over.

Had I to do it all over again, my yard would be a miniature Japanese Garden.

Of the few Japanese Gardens I’ve visited –Golden Gate Japanese Tea Garden (the oldest in the U.S. in San Francisco), Japanese Gardens at Roger Williams Park (Providence, RI), Balboa Park Japanese Friendship Garden (San Diego, CA)  and Seattle Japanese Garden (Washington Park Arboretum, WA)– by far my favorite is Seattle’s Japanese Garden.

Surprisingly, at three-acres it’s not that much smaller than the others, and slightly larger than the one in San Diego apparently, but it feels diminutive and intimate and as cozy as a backyard.

Spacious enough to wander around on wooded trails, winding walkways and bridges, but small enough that much of it is visible at once from any location. It is the most romantic place for a wedding or rendezvous.

The pond was large with many turtles sunning themselves on rocks and very curious–or very hungry– koi swimming about and popping their heads out of the water. They were huge at one foot or more in length, indicating they are very old and very, very expensive.

Place for a wedding ceremony?

Place for a wedding ceremony?

One HUGE distraction and glaring drawback is that the garden is inches away from a major thoroughfare and it is very noisy. Hardly conducive to meditating or truly being able to appreciate the delicate and inspirational beauty all around.

I can see the noise as being one big deterrent to getting married here. I grew up in a city and know how to block out noise, but it was quite jarring, and such an odd juxtaposition considering the tranquility this elegant garden was designed to create and harbor!

I hope there is some time during the day when it is quieter and more inviting to stroll in true bliss.

The Washington Park Arboretum is across the street, but the trails are far enough from the road and buffered by trees that keep the noise more at bay; It’s not nearly as noticeable.

I visited the Japanese Garden in the month of May when azaleas and iris were in bloom. It was dazzling and one of those experiences that felt like stepping through a portal into another world. I would love to visit again after a snowfall. I’m sure it would be even more enchanting and totally put me over the moon.

Moss crowned stone lantern

Moss crowned stone lantern

The Seattle Japanese Garden is one that truly seeded itself in my heart. My dream now is to have a tiny 600sf traditional Japanese home that opens onto a one acre Japanese Garden in back and tiny zen fountain garden by the Toji gate in front. It’s a dream I meditate about often. I hope these photos have the same relaxing affect on you.


There are more photos in the photo gallery.

The garden had a large koi pond

The pond had dozens of plump koi

Open expanses let the spirit breathe

Open expanses let the spirit breathe

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