I was struck by this garden when I first saw it. I thought, “that will be nice once it is all planted up”. But then I translated the description and realized that this is a completed garden and that this Japanese style garden is designed to highlight the beauty of black soil.
The description goes on to say (near as I can tell – google translate has its limitations) that the water feature is like the nearby ocean, with its wet soil and puddles.
This of course has me thinking about the maintenance of such a place. I wonder if the constant tidying required to keep the dirt clean and clear is more or less than the effort required to maintain a lawn.
I suspect more.
Which I also suspect is at least partially the point. To be meticulous in the grooming of the earth can be meditative and calming.
The more I look at it, the more I like it.
As I researched the Japanese ‘bare earth’ idea I came across a reference to a practice of “swept lawns” (done with a homemade broom of dogwood branches). It is a dying tradition of African-American gardeners in the Southern USA (particularly in GA). Swept yards are thought to originate in tradition from West African ancestors and the practice, when done well and over time, leaves nothing – not even grass – only bare clay dirt, which in all practical senses becomes an outdoor room on a home that often is small and hot inside.
Here in jungle-prone New England, my muscles hurt just thinking about how long I’d have to sweep in order to keep and maintain a bare patch of earth. But I’m actually craving the idea and I am not sure if it is because I think it will bring me some great peace, or if maybe I am just struck by the novelty. Or, I am drawn to preserving its unique traditions from multiple areas of the world, or probably I am drawn to those things that will be near impossible to have.
The Black Soil and Hexagon Garden was designed by N-tree – visit their portfolio to see more images of this project.
images by N-tree.