The Buzz

New Water Garden at MBG!!

 The Water Garden at the Memphis Botanic Garden has taken on many different looks through its almost 50 years of existence.  From tropical water lilies to plantings of Nandinas, Mondo grass and Loropetalum, the garden never seemed to have much permanence; until now.  

I would describe the theme of the garden as a modern combination of traditional Japanese garden styles.  One of the styles you will find is kare-sansui, a style dating back to the Muromachi era Japan (1336-1573), developed by Zen Buddhist as a form of meditation on their path to enlightenment.  In the traditional form of these gardens, you find no plants, but only gravel or sand, and rock, which are strategically placed for the viewer to ponder their meaning.  Are they stony islands amidst an ocean of gravel? Or are they mountain peaks, protruding through pebbly clouds?   While there is no “rock hard” interpretation of these gardens, it is important to remember that each person who views it will see and feel something different.   

Although the new Water Garden has these rigid and rocky elements, it is also soften by a deliberately limited plant palette consisting of Raphiolepsis indica 'Olivia' (Indian Hawthorn), Acer palmatum 'Ryusen' (Ryusen Japanese Maple), Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon Holly), Acer palmatum (Japanese Maple), Cedrus deodara ‘Feeling Blue’, masses of Ophiopogon japonicus (Monkey Grass) and Carex conica ‘Snow Line’.  The masses of Indian Hawthorn planted close to the rocky outcroppings represent a similar Japanese garden style of the aforementioned kare-sansui called o-karikomi, developed during the Edo era, early 1600’s.  With this style, the gravel and stone of the kare-sansui are combined with tightly clipped hedges of varying shapes and sizes, sometimes representative of historical events.  The hedges within the water garden will eventually be an undulating mass, conversing with the stoic boulders.  

Although the overall style of the garden is minimal, the concepts behind the garden’s elements are complex and subjective.  So come prepared to contemplate the garden’s meaning; however you choose to interpret it.  

Designed by:    Chris Cosby, Nick Esthus, Jeff Reynolds  

Installed by:      Chris Cosby, Nick Esthus, Jeff Reynolds,     Monico Ortiz  

Photos:               Stephanie Cosby, Peggy Peters 

Posted by nick esthus at 12:00 PM


7/9/2012 at 12:56 PM by Paden Green-Tossey

Sounds incredible - I can't wait to see this!

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