As soon as we pulled up to the house with an amazing desert landscaping in front, I started to suspect that this visit would not be just to see a few mini trees in pots here and there.
Oh no, definitely not. I knew I would want to spend at least a full day exploring this garden, and hearing how it was created in a typically sized plain old suburban backyard.
Darryl had also done extensive landscaping in his back yard, which included a koi pond with TWO water falls flowing around an island where a weeping blue spruce sprawled out in magnificent style.
Three very large tortoises. The friendly animals RUSHED up to greet us at a speed that I wouldn't have thought possible. I wasted no time getting into the pen and making their acquaintance.
Don't you just love that face? The tortoise each were just slightly smaller than the size of a typical old fashion trash can cover and each had a distinct personality. I discovered that while they are just fine with me patting their shell and head, they would JUMP and HISS if I touched their arms. Quite disturbing actions for both of us!
The tortoises were bigger than the dogs! I asked how Darryl had come to own the tortoises; he said he used to own a large collection of exotic spiders; no one was interested in caring for them when he wanted to vacation, so he traded them for the tortoise. How interesting!
Before long Darryl pointed out an enormous bullfrog which had positioned himself at the top of one of the waterfalls.He excused himself for just a moment and returned with a cage of crickets to toss for the frogs dinner. The koi were busy swirling in colorful knots, dragonflies were stitching about and birds landed here and there in the water fall for a dip too.
I began to realize that I wanted to live here, beside the pond. I wanted to sit on this deck every morning and every evening, enjoying having a private pond and two waterfalls to lull me into a state of bliss.
Eventually we "hiked" to the top of the waterfall area where Darryl kept his amazing collection of bonsai. This forest planting was just one of many bonsai pieces that he had.
His single specimen ginko tree would be amazing to see when it turns golden in the fall. He showed us a tree that he had collected in the wild that had been professionally "aged", that is, two experts had both agreed the tree that he was continuing to shape and grow was already 600 years old.
He and Bernie spoke about the finer points of bonsai, the successes and the failures, and he gave Bernie some very humble thoughts to help him figure out what might have caused some bonsai projects to fail.
We are planning to install a Japanese garden in a part of our garden someday. I was seeing black bamboo for the first time here; you can be sure that someday our garden will have some of the interesting black forms as well.
We eventually returned to the low deck and I noticed a flash of yellow flit by and land. A yellow warbler was perching on a power line. Using my zoom to get a reasonably good picture, I showed my photo to Darryl. He had been unaware of the fast moving warbler being in his area. He then began to share about all the birds that do visit the pond.
Now I really, really wanted to live in this place. Or at least camp in the back yard....
I thought it was quite clever to put an ancient looking bonsai on a post in the tortoise pen. There was also a heated green house on the property where the tortoise spend their winters in a semi-hibernation state, along with the more tender bonsai.
Darryl's wife grows their non-bonsai landscaping from seed. She plants and grows in the greenhouse in late winter, then transplants the seedlings when the snow finally melts from the landscape. The more I looked, the more I saw, the more I envied!
There was artwork nestled into the garden, metal sculptures, potted plants in interesting planters,
and clay animal masks made by the local junior high students and left behind at school unwanted. Darryl is given them to display as he wishes.
Inside his house were more interesting plants. At one time Darryl had torn off the entire wall facing the garden; birds flew in and out of the house over the summer as they remodeled and put in a wall of glass. They leave the waterfalls flowing during the winter. Darryl told us the garden is designed to be just as lovely when banked with snow.
I believe him. I am ready to grovel for an invitation to see it in such a state!
As we left the garden through a small passage that lead through the garage, a passionflower vine bloomed against a trellis. I had never seen a shy or modest passion flower before, so I had to take a picture of course.
Out in front amidst rocks and towering cactus, Darryl's desert was in bloom glowing in the moonlight as night finally fell.
We will invite him and his wife over to see our humble garden, and share a glass of wine together on another balmy evening soon.
Oh, and the list of things I thought I had to get done before Gail came?
As I first learned in my home economics college classes: Work expands to fill time alloted.
Everything that needed to be done got done.
Funny how that works.
Next time you don't think you have time to do something fun because you have too much work to do?
Just say the quote, and bag the work.
The workload will shrink to fit the time that you allot for it!