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Zen garden pruned for distinction and light July 2021

Way of the Garden

A Stroll Garden does not reveal itself all at once. Rather, paths are meant to lead from a view of the pond to a view of a distant landscape. The design of a path directs one's progression through the garden: large stepping stones slow the walk, encouraging contemplation of the view, while row after row of smaller, more uniform stones create a feeling of excitement or anticipation for an approaching feature. The "journey" through a Stroll Garden is meant to be a highly orchestrated voyage to a deeper understanding of nature. 

Westerners are accustomed to the concept that the Garden as a whole is a metaphor - the garden as Eden, for example. Even Voltaire exhorted his 18th-century audience, "Cultivate your own garden!" he was obviously not referring to a vegetable patch or perennial border, he was referring to gardens metaphorically. Japanese gardening techniques take this idea much further. Not only is the garden as a whole a microcosm of the world but each path, indeed each rock that makes up the path, is a metaphor for something else. 

The concept that individual components of the garden symbolize different ideas is strictly an Eastern notion. In Japan, the iconography is so well known that modern designers will often "quote" famous gardens of the past knowing that visitors will understand the reference. 

Although the various garden types, the Hill and Pond, Dry Landscape, Stroll, Tea and Courtyard gardens, often overlap, within them certain restrictions apply. A Japanese landscape designer uses these types, as well as other devices such as composition and texture much as an artist uses different mediums and imagery to convey his message. 

Far from being rigid and abstract, a successful Japanese garden is a sensual experience. It incorporates sound - the crunching of pebbles underfoot, the wind through the bamboo: sight - the beauty of the arrangement of the garden as a whole; touch - the singular sensation of pine branches brushing against your arm; and smell - the gentle aroma of the katsura trees in early autumn. 

The Japanese garden invites contemplation: every design element is carefully planned to give structure to an idea. The rocks, sand, water and plants create a microcosmic universe in which the whole is more than the sum of its parts.


Garden Views


In a Japanese garden, nothing  is natural or left to chance. Each plant is chosen according to aesthetic principles, either to hide undesirable sights, to serve as a backdrop to certain garden features, or to create a picturesque scene, like a landscape painting or postcard. It's been the beautiful  backdrop  for many memorable weddings and photographic events.

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Garden Viewed from Orbit


Google Satellite view of Hammond Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden.  Aaron Brethower's Eagle Scout Project, a garden chess board with two foot by two foot squares, is clearly visible.


Hammond Garden at night


The garden is open once a year at night for Otsukimi / Moonviewing. The Stellarium program does a superb job of displaying the sky as one would see it in a planetarium. One can also zoom in on objects in the sky for a closer view. One of the garden panoramas has been made into a landscape to use with Stellarium so the sky is displayed above the Hammond garden. Unfortunately, the web version of Stellarium does not allow loading of custom landscapes so Stellarium must be downloaded into your computer and then the Hammond landscape installed into the copy of Stellarium you run on your own computer. The zipped file contains detailed instructions for loading the Hammond Landscape folder ( into Stellarium.

Other astronomical spectacles: Total Solar Eclipse at the Hammond: 9:13 AM, January 24, 1925; Lunar Eclipse: May 15 and 16, 2022; Transit of Mercury: 11/11/2019 and 5/9/2016; Transit of Venus: 6/6/2012 and 6/8/2004. The International Space Station and other satellites can be spotted as they pass by. The trees that obstruct the view of the total eclipse weren't there in 1925 so it's fair to turn off the landscape to see the solar corona during the total eclipse.


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