Sunday, November 10, 2013

Horticultural awakening

The last semi-regular employment I had was as a gardener in New York last autumn.  I worked for an upscale gardening and landscaping company with ridiculously wealthy Manhattan clients.  It was interesting, but more for the access we were granted into these spectacular private homes, than the actual labor.  It was physical, as one might expect, but somehow more brutal because it was New York City.

When I arrived at "my" house in Uji-City in September I was excited to see a garden.  I have never lived anywhere with a garden bigger than a window box.  After settling in I surveyed the space.  It needed some work.  That was apparent.  (See my post "The Japanese Garden" from September 28).

Some of you may ask, why?  Why spend your time in Kyoto in a garden when there is so much to see and do?  Well...I don't know.  But I have to say working in this garden has been supremely satisfying, more than any of the swanky Manhattan gardens I tended.

One of the things I love about Kyoto is how brilliantly and seamlessly nature is integrated into the city.  It is not like New York with its great parks, or Los Angeles with its lovely beaches.  Kyoto lies in a valley, so you can look in pretty much any direction and see mountains, and in 20 minutes you're in those mountains.

I've lived in big cities for most of my adult life and never felt a great need to be in nature.  I spend very little time there except for the odd skiing or beach excursions.  But my favorite thing here, in Kyoto is being in the gardens, the wonderful way they bring you into nature without requiring a backpack, boots or tent.  It is a horticultural mystery, really the way the gardeners here can tame the wild without making it staid and insipid.

So after seven weeks I think my garden renovation here at 12-19 Shinkai Gokanosho is complete.  Mind you that is not seven weeks of daily gardening; it is more like 7 days of gardening spread over 7 weeks.  It is no Ryoanji, but it is definitely an improvement over the neglected wilderness it was in September.  And it makes me happy.  I think the bugs dig it too.

View from my bedroom

1 comment:

  1. Your garden looks beautiful. You have a little of my love for gardens. It makes me happy to read your blog