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Stickley, Gustav, 1858-1942. / Craftsman homes
(1909)

What may be done with water and rocks in a little garden,   pp. 119-124


Page 119

WHAT MAY BE DONE WITH WATER AND ROCKS
IN A LITTLE GARDEN
WE have to acknowledge our indebted-
          ness to the Japanese for more inspi-
          ration in matters of art and archi-
          tecture than most of us can realize,
and in no department of art is the realization
of subtle beauty that lies in simple and un-
obtrusive things more valuable to us as home
makers than the suggestions they give us as
to the arrangement      of our gardens.  With
our national impulsiveness, we are too apt to
go a step beyond the inspiration and attempt
direct imitation, which is a pity, because the
inevitable failure that must necessarily attend
such mistaken efforts will (10 more than any-
thing else to (liscourage people with the idea
of trying to have a Japanese garden.    But if
we once get the idea into our heads that the
secret of the whole thing lies in the exquisite
sense of proportion that enables a Japanese to
pro(luce the effect of a whole landscape within
the compass of a small yard, there is some
hope of our being able to (10 the same thing
in our own country and in our own way.
  Our idea of a garden usually includes a
profusion  of  flowers   and  ambitious-looking
shrubs, but the Japanese is less obvious.  He
loves flowers and has many of them, but the
typical Japanese garden is made up chiefly of
stones, ferns, dwarf trees and above all water.
It may be only a little water,<a tiny, trickling
stream not so large as that which would flow
from a small garden hose.      But , given this
little stream, the Japanese gardener,<or the
American gardener who once grasps the Jap-
anese idea,<can (10 wonders.      He can take
that little stream, which represents an amount
of water costing at the outside about three
dollars a month, and can so direct it that it
pours over piles of rocks in tiny cascades,
forming pool after pool, and finally shaping
its course through a miniature river into a
clear little lake.   If it is a strictly Japanese
garden, both river and lake will be bridged
an(1 the stream will have as many windings as
possible, to give a chance for a number of
bridges.  Also it will have~ temple lanterns of
stone, bronze storks and perhaps a tiny image
of Buddha.
  But in the American garden we need none
of these things, unless indeed we have space
enough so that a portion of the grounds may
be devoted to a genuine Japanese garden like
the one shown in the illustrations.   This in<
deed might have been picked up in Japan and
transplanted bodily to America, for it is the
garden of Mr. John S. Bradstreet, of Minne-
apolis, who is a lover of all things Japanese
and has been    in Japan many     times. This
garden occupies a space little more than one
hundred   feet in  diameter, and yet the two
illustrations we give are only glimpses of its~
varie(l charm.   They are chosen chiefly be-
cause they illustrate the use that can be made
of a small stream of water so placed that it
trickles over a pile of rocks.  The effect pro<
(luced is that of a mountain glen, and so per<
feet are the proportions and so harmonious
the arrangement that there is no sense of in-
congruity in the fact that the whole thing is~
on such a small scale.
  Where people have only a       small garden,
say in the back yard of a city home or in
some nook that can be spare(l from the front
lawn, an experiment with the possibilities of
rocks,   ferns and a  small   stream of water
would bring rich returns.  \Ve need no temple
lanterns or images of Buddha in this country,
hut we do need the kind of garden that brings
to our minds    the  recollection of mountain
brooks, wooded ravines and still lakes, and
while it takes mtich thought, care and training
of oneĀ¹s power of observation and adjustment
to get it, the question of space is not one that
has to be considered, and the expense is almost
nothing at all.
  The thing to he most avoided is imitationĀ¹
either of the Japanese models from which we
take the suggestion for our own little gardens
or of the scenery of which they are intended
to remin(l us.  It is safest to regard such gar-
dens merely as an endeavor on our part to
create something that will call into life the
emotion or memory we wish to perpetuate.
  All these suggestions are for a small garden
such as would naturally belong to a city or
suburban house, but if such effects can be pro-
duced here in a corner and by artificial means,
it is easy to imagine what could be done with
large and naturally irregular grounds, say on
a hillside, or where a natural brook wound its~
way through the garden, giving every oppor-
tunity for the picturesque effects that could
be created by very simple treatment of the
banks, by a bridge or a pool here and there
and by a little adjustment of the rocks lying
around.
119


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