Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Before and After: Garden Bonsai Area

At the foot of the stairs leading up to the deck, and at the end of the concrete pad where the hot tub sits, there was this little corner of the garden. It never seemed to be anything but either mud or dust. Every step taken in the area seemed to result in a mud track into the house.
So we thought and discussed what we wanted to do about it.
We wanted a place where Bernie could work on his bonsai collection, and where the collection could be enjoyed from either viewed from above or below on the ground.

He had cobbled together a bit of a bench using some fencing that originally encircled the lower deck. We had been so happy that most of his bonsai shipped safely via UPS from Houston to here. And since then he has joined a bonsai club...which means we now have even more bonsai!
What to do...what to do. We wanted something low maintenance, yet organic looking.

Grass obviously wasn't going to work.

So we called this guy to come help us:

Moab is a town south of us...or is it north? Anyway, he and his gang showed up one morning and a couple of hours later....

The area looked like this!
After visiting several rock sales yards, and realizing that what was most important to me was being able to walk barefoot on the gravel without yelping "ouch ouch ouch" with each step, we went with "Spanish Pearl" a sandy colored washed 3/8th inch rock.
The piled ashler cut stone wall under the pine tree was an amazing co-incidence of opportunity: a neighbor was having her front planter torn out by the same guy who was going to do our little landscaping project. It is almost impossible to find that particular hand cut style stone any more.

The wall originally was a couple of wooden boards, and the stair steps just weren't there at all. Bernie selected the silver and greenish natural pavers to make a path through the gravel. A brick walkway still skirts the edge of the stairs, it will be easy to shovel it clear in winter.

After the crew was done, and the weekend came... Bernie began to build.

All the materials were found on the property. Very wabi sabi. (I'll explain that in another post.)

The view from the upper deck.

The word "bonsai" simply means potted. The artistry of the plants takes years to be developed. We have learned so much via this hobby, or I should say, I have learned a lot by watching and listening to Bernie as he ponders his plants and plans their training.

He planted this Japanese maple forest about five years ago using two year old cuttings. Each spring when the leaves unfurl he has strip them all off to make the growth go back into the trunks, and the secondary leaf growth is much smaller and in scale with what he is trying to do with the trees. I love seeing the forest turn color in the fall!
The forest was shipped via UPS from Houston to here; we fretted and hoped for the best. The forest thankfully did fine with being re-located.

A tiny pine in training to become curved specimen.

With a bit of patience and time, these plants could one day grace a garden a hundred years from now.
Pretty cool.
I'm thinking we will get a lot of enjoyment out of this corner of this garden for many years ourselves.


Lovella ♥ said...

What a great space for Bernie's hobby. I've never really understood very much about bonsai.
I imagine that there must so much enjoyment watching the limbs of branches. ..start to yield to the touch of the bonsai master.

Dolores said...

I think it's a neat hobby to have. Glad there's lots of room for Bernie to work his magic.

Vicki said...

That looks great! It's nice that Bernie has a place to work his hobby - it appears almost zen-like and appropriate for the bonsai.

Bonsai has always intrigued me with the planning and patience that is required. I really like the very old trees, but I think that forest is great! I've never seen that before.

What would grow around here...bonsai palms? ;)

Sara said...

It looks great, and very (as others have said) Zen like....much like bonsai displays I've seen at places like the Huntington Gardens...with the gravel and those airy shelves Bernie made from old fencing. What a treasure the way those ashler cut stones fell into your laps (figuratively speaking of course). I've never paid much attention to bonsai and how they are so meticulously and painstakingly trained so I learned a little bit about that here. Good job!

Pondside said...

What an interesting post! I don't know much about Bonsai, but have become interested in all things Japanese, as we're heading that way at the end of September

Janel said...

Very nice! I love the little forest. My second son is interested in Bonsai. We might grow some eventually. : )