“The East is wiser than the West, for it finds the essence of all things grounded in the psyche.” Carl Jung
July 2021 and the potted garden has now moved from its Yorkshire courtyard to more permanent Derbyshire roots. Other than locale, it looks almost the same since all the plants are being temporarily housed on a front raised platform. Many will abide here until some progress has been made with the back garden restructure. This will take several weeks (with the eventual design completed many, many months later).
This frontage has room for a herb potagerie by the entrance door whilst the dais will house an Occidental plant collection. It will be much more colourful than the muted Japanese style of the back garden, and will give a pleasing contrast when passing through the garden gate.
Set within a woodland garden clearing, the back garden is a blank canvas, awaiting a major design transformation. Easy to say, but doing it is quite another matter! For this area has been neglected and deserted long enough for a wilding to take hold.
There is a small glasshouse that needs mending whilst the raised lawn area has turned into a meadow (now strimmed to an untidy haircut.)
Beyond the lawn, a Heath Robinson sloping rockery is home to nettle, bramble and bracken with some past plantings putting in a vague reminder of more cultivated times.
“Why do you want a Japanese garden?” asked my daughter the other day and the answer is simply that with age, I’ve come to like best that aesthetic sense of Serenity, Grace and Beauty in one harmonious design.
On my one and only trip to the Chelsea Flower Show many moons ago, I aimed straight for the English courtyard garden designed by a Japanese woman. Alas, I cannot recall her name but the simplicity she brought to the design has stuck with me. I’m effectively doing the same as her, but in reverse. Sort of re-orienting the Orient.
I don’t believe that Westerners can fully grasp the Japanese zeitgeist but we can emulate. Hence, by using the adjectival suffix ‘esque’, I’m aiming for something reminiscent. Thus my old style ‘Garden in a Pot’ is morphing into ‘My Japanesque Garden’. Watch this space!
“If the first of July be rainy weather, It will rain, more of less, for four weeks together.” English Proverb
The proverb has come true here so far and these rainy summer days have spurred the plants to grow like Billy-O. Wonderful to see but a headache in terms of moving them without incurring too much damage. Some like the giant hostas and exuberant erisymum ‘Bowles Mauve’ have now gone ahead with my daughter whilst at the other end of the extreme, I have several young seedlings of Leptospermum scoparium (Manuka) which will accompany me on departure next Saturday.
A bit of a side-track now for the seedlings have their own story…I sowed them as memento of my (pre-lockdown) 2020 New Zealand trip but also because I rather rashly had left behind my potted Manuka shrub in London. (Moving ‘the garden in a pot’ from place to place has always meant choosing which shall stay and which must go). Anyway I did the stratification thing of seeds on damp paper and plastic bagged up for 6 weeks or more in the fridge then planted them, paper and all back in March. And just as the impatient gardener was about to give up, seedlings began to sprout in May. They’ve just been transferred to individual pots and so far all 15 have made the move. It almost makes me feel green-fingered!
Those of you who know my future plans for a Japanese style garden might wonder what place Manuka will have there. The answer is there will be part of the garden that transitions between the Orient and the Occident and besides that, it will be more Japanesque than purist but more of that another time.
Meanwhile, this last post on this garden is perforce, a kind of eulogy, taking stock of where I’ve gardened for the past 18 months.
In truth it was love at first sight – a back garden only, bare, gravelled and walled, with an old pantiled outhouse as pottering shed. There was space enough to fit all the potted plants, grow more and still be able to sit amongst them.
This proximity gave a more intimate relationship with the plants which in turn has enhanced my appreciation of them as living entities rather than garden decor. I’ve spent time documenting each one (‘meet the plants‘) and enjoyed moving them on and off centre-stage as the seasons dictate, rather like successive vaudeville acts.
But the last word must go to the silent gardeners who throughout have made rich toppings of soil and some liquid manure from shreds of paper and vegetable waste. Just what potted plants need since they cannot forage for their own needs!