Monty Don’s new book Japanese Gardens: A Journey

Monty Don has a new book that’s a companion to his popular BBC show. It’s called Japanese Gardens: A Journey.

Monty Don and photographer Derry Moore traveled to Japan in spring and autumn, and captured the history and beauty of Japanese gardens in these spectacular seasons.

But remember, you can create a Japanese-inspired garden anywhere even in your own backyard at home.

The goal is the same whether it’s in a formal Japanese garden in Kyoto or in a garden of your own design: to create of oasis of beauty and peace

Get Monty’s book to see how it’s done in Japan and, if you don’t already have it, get A Tea Garden in Tivoli, American Garden Design Inspired by the Japanese Way of Tea to see how you can do it too.

Monty Don in Japan

Monty Don is quite a character, and he knows his gardening. In these videos he travels to Japan for the BBC. We don’t get the show in the US but I was able to find the videos online and post them here. You’ll find them fascinating especially if you love Japan and love gardening.

There are two videos below. Part One – spring and Part Two – autumn. For some reason the beginning looks the same in both episodes, but they are different. 

If you find this show enjoyable and want to go a bit further, check out my book A Tea Garden in Tivoli where I go deep into the subject of the tea garden. Click here for more info.


Monty Don’s Japanese Gardens Episode One

Monty Don’s Japanese Gardens Episode Two

Moss obsession

By the side entrance to the Tea House is a flood run-off ditch that fills with water in the spring and fall. It’s in deep shade and I’ve become obsessed with cultivating moss in this small area.

Last spring I ordered a 6 foot square sheet of moss from Moss Acres. The moss came packed in a box like a thinly folded carpet which I carefully spread over my bare mud patch. The spring was short and during the summer we went into a deep drought. The moss didn’t make it.

Early this spring I noticed there was some native moss creeping in from the west side of Tea House. What’s better than cultivating something that wants to grow naturally?

I went around my garden and found two other species of moss hidden behind trees and scattered in soft cushions about the garden. With a forked trowel I scooped up thin layers and placed them in the muddy Tea House entrance area.

So far the weather this spring has been fabulous for the moss. It has rained and rained and been mildly cool.  I ‘think’ the moss is liking it. I ‘think’ it’s spreading. I hope so. I love this area. It has a quiet and profound feel as if the moss were exhaling something pure and lovely.

The challenge will be this summer when it gets hot and dry. Moss doesn’t like to be watered. Instead it likes fine mist and only rainwater. I don’t have a misting system and the Tea House is too far away for me to dig one in. I can only provide shade and regular watering from the tap.

Perhaps this year the rain will be more plentiful than last, and the moss, which naturally grows here, will establish itself strongly enough to withstand the vagaries of our weather. I’ve planted some nice companions for it: epimedium, ferns, marsh marigold.

Right now it’s a beautiful gem of a place.




Spring is fleeting

I’ve planted in some wonderful pockets of shade and this is the time of year when the spring ephemerals start to appear. The colors seem to be a range of blue and yellow with Brunnera, Virginia Bluebells, and Celdon Poppy.  Soon a white Trillium will show up. In the far back are clumps of Uvularia grandiflora (large-flowered bellwort). I love these flowers.

Spring is an amazing time here in the northeast. After a hard winter I am amazed when these tender flowers peak through the earth and start to bloom. Their bloom is short and fleeting, but appreciated even more because of it.


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