Taking risks

Jiny Blom, a well known landscape designer said “Take risks. If someone tells you something is impossible, see if you can do it. Gardening is a knife edge between disaster and serendipity.”

I felt she was talking directly to me when I built this stone path.

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I collected the rocks from an old stone wall on my mother’s property. I dug a trench 8 inches deep and filled it with 800 pounds of rock dust and sand, then pieced the stones together like a quilt or jigsaw puzzle.

Rikyu, the brilliant tea master of the 16th century, said that the design of the Roji should be sixty percent practical and forty percent aesthetic. This path meets his criteria.

I’ve planted creeping thyme in the spaces between the stones. I wasn’t sure it would like the conditions: was there enough light, was the soil too sandy, did it drain well enough…? It’s taken a couple of years but slowly the thyme is making itself at home.

The path needs periodic weeding. I get down on my hands and knees, my nose inches from the stones and delicatly separate the weeds from the thyme. It’s a garden job that could easily be forgotten or put aside as too much trouble, but in the late afternoon when the light is gentle and the air soft, to get down on the ground inches from the earth is a task I’m grateful for.

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– excerpt from A Tea Garden in Tivoli

 

Paths


The key element of the Roji is the path that crosses boundaries and entrances and guides you to the tea house. Stone paths are traditional and the stones in the outer path are straight with a formal pattern, the stones in the inner path are scattered, yet purposeful. They guide you through the space and slow you down, involve you and take you out of yourself. There is a sense of bridging, crossing over and proceeding deeper into the Roji leaving the dust of the world behind.

-excerpt from A Tea Garden in Tivoli