A Blank Slate 

Sunday, February 17, 2002
Suburbia, California 

Our backyard is a blank slate. 

This past summer we took out a couple of  tall, shady trees that had grown aggressively out of control, threatening the perimeter-defining block walls.  The shrubbery that lined the walls had become straggly with age.  Out they came. 

"Our backyard is not a disaster," I recently observed, diplomatically, to DH. "But it could be spruced up."

Truth be known, it is the dog's potty.

I don't want a backyard.  I'd like a garden there. An inviting garden. Yes, this is what I'd like:  an inviting garden. So today, Iggy drove down from Claremont to look things over.

Iggy is DH's friend and colleague, one who is an architect of buildings and gardens.  Over lunch, he familiarized himself with our "wants and needs."


I'm thinking peaceful.  A niwa.  

DH is thinking tropical

We are both attuned to plants, particularly fragrant ones. We are leaning toward nostalgic plantings of our childhood, like plumeria and ginger. 

We're both thinking of enhancing the ki (also known as Qi or chi) elements of fire, earth, metal, water, and wood, especially the use of flowing water in copper receptacles. 

ki: Universal energy, capable of infinite expansion and contraction, which can be directed but not contained by the mind. It is the cosmic ocean in which everything exists.

Understatedness.  Shibui-ness. A naturalness.

Needs: Low maintenance.

We give Iggy a crash course on ki energy in the garden. We make it clear to him that we have no interest in the nouveau versions of Feng Shui (Lillian Too or Lin Yun's Black Hat Sect), so popular among New Agers these days, but instead the ancient, traditional version of energy-nature patterns (Larry Sang).  

To Westerners, ki may sound like quaint folklore; to others, perhaps even hocus pocus or mumbo-jumbo. But Iggy has Cuban roots, he loves tropical plants and Hawai`i.  He's open to ancient ideas that are new to him:

>> Chris Shaul's article:  Traditional FS Landscaping
>> Article on PK Odle & Traditional FS in the Garden

We agreed that the rectangular brick and cement patio that is attached to the house must go.  So will the three-tiered cement fountain that came with the house, which has no ki-retaining properties.

After measuring and checking the cardinal geographical points (i.e., NSEW), Iggy drew the dimensions of our backyard onto his laptop's screen, and let his creative mind run wild. 

We like what Iggy has conjured up in that short time:  

A tropical garden with palm and plumeria trees that will provide shade and coolness, and beneath them, ti, ginger, and fern shrubbery. 

A copper fountain that spills water along two sides of the garden via spouts that embrace the central lounging area.  It will be electrically wired so I can work outdoors.  

A peaceful, little Zen garden for my meditation needs with "less is more" gravel and stones, separated from the tropical zone with a low wall.

Lighting, so the garden may be enjoyed at night.

What can be conceived, can be achieved...


"Life is a Gift."

Wishing you silver linings, 
Author Unknown

P.S.  If you would like to share a portion of yourself with words, in response to this journal entry, you may do it here.  

 "The only gift is a portion of thyself..."
Ralph Waldo Emerson


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This web journal was created on a September Morn, 
September 29, 2001
September Morn 2002