Thursday, October 13, 2011
A new art project finished!
As time went on I found many uses for the rocks, everything from building raised beds to contain our gardens to building retaining walls to hold back the soil that was beginning to wash down into the swale. But the question of what to do with the swale remained. For the first couple of years, while I was building my CD racks, work benches and storage shelving out of the enormous supply of scrap lumber from the house's construction, the swale served as an outdoor construction shop. But eventually, the question of what to do to make it a "finished space" became pressing.
The first idea came from the landscape designer who put together the plan for the extensive planting around the house. She drew a path outlined with scrap rock on the plan with swirls of rock on either side of it. I thought it OK but not a compelling idea visually. And it made the swale a pass-through, not an interesting, usable space.
Much better was the idea of one of our friends, a nurseryman and part-time landscape designer who looked down at the swale from the bridge out the second floor of the house and proposed a "stream" running through it made of landscape glass nuggets, bordered by scrap rock. He proposed places where the stream widened to allow an island or two in which bulbs or other miniature shrubs could be planted. This idea was much more to my liking, particularly after I remembered a visit to the Japanese Gardens in the hills overlooking Portland, Oregon where a beautiful and extensive Zen garden is a major feature. So I began to design in my head a Zen Garden based on the Japanese Inland Sea with its shrines, monumental statues and Torii Gates sitting on little islands or rising straight out of the water. It would be a place to sit in the shade of the house's deep overhangs in the heat of the summer in comfortable Adirondack chairs with a book, or having a drink with friends, or just to contemplate something beautiful.
I began work on it in late summer and finished it a couple of days ago. Here are some pictures, beginning with a shot of the entire installation and then focusing in on details.
An island with a high peak, connected to the shore by an isthmus, with a cascade flowing down to the sea.
With great and sincere thanks to our friend Martin Grealish who made the original suggestion of a stream with islands running through the swale, who procured the plants for the islands for me, and whose enthusiasm and support has meant so much.
We have a great deal of hard scape in our garden & I have tossed bits of beach glass around & they catch the light & our garden ends up looking very "beach".
Your swale is swell.