Dry gravel Zen garden

Developing a narrative

Developing a Narrative

Every aspect of gardening is a form of deception. With plants. paths, stone and water the gardener contrives to tell a story of time and space in their image. In some cases he narrative is explicit.
Daisen-in (大仙院) is a sub-temple of Daitoku-ji, is  one of the most important Rinzai Buddhist  temples of Kyoto. The garden wrapping around the temple is a Chinese painting represented in 3 dimensions. It starts with water flowing from the mountain eventually ending in the ocean, Along the way there are treasure boats floating down stream and turtles trying to swim against the current and so to a wide open sea.

Other narratives are less explicit-such as the recreation of an artisan’s cottage garden of a Britain  past or  a representation of a broad north American prairie or the recreation of a central American tropical rainforest in your back garden. I have in the past played with them all.

I have a steep slope. I have engineered a meandering path up the slope. The pathway up a mountain to visit the hermit’s hut provides its own narrative. The ink painting attributed to Shubun – San’eki Sai – “the hermitage of the three worthies”  –  and the detail from Sesshu’s screen “Landscape of the four seasons” provides a view of what I might aspire to.

Chinese Ink painting
Chinese ink painting
Sloping garden under construction

The  story I am planning to tell starts at the level of the house and passes up next to a waterfall and then zig-zags through shrubs and small trees to an upland meadow to the plateau at the top – where one can visit the hermit and drink tea in the captured scenery. The South Pennines does not have pointy mountains like Kyoto, but broad flat tops – but it is scenery.

There are other, more domestic spaces close t the house- they will tell different stories- but

this story is more than enough work for the present.

The images.

When I visited Daisen-in I was not permitted to take photographs. The photographs I have provided were taken by the late David Burgess and are available in the Japanese Garden Society database of images of Japanese Gardens – https://japanesegardens.piwigo.com/

The two details of Shubun – Saneki Sai – the hermitage of the three worthies and  Sesshus screen Landscape of the four seasons” come from Wiki media commons

All other images are my own.