Another great time going live on Tequila Time with Art is in the books, and this time we took a tour of my Huangshan-inspired Japanese garden. It was by far the most requested feature from these live chats, so I’m thankful both the typically soggy Seattle weather and technology conspired to work together for once! Check out the video above if you missed it, or simply want to re-watch it. For more information on my garden, I’ve also included my story of how the garden came to be below. Enjoy, and have a fantastic weekend!
Nature possesses many powers. It can awe and inspire, provoke fear, and humble. As a nature photographer who frequently travels to some of the most wild and remote regions of
the world, I have truly experienced each of these emotions and more.
In all my journeys, though, one place in particular captured my soul and spirit in ways that continue to inspire me today. The incomparable grandeur of the granite spires, spectacular rocky peaks, contorted pines and swirling mists I encountered at Huangshan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in China’s Anhui Province, planted in me a desire to blend my global travels into the shape and feel of my own home environment.
Upon returning to my native Seattle nearly 35 years ago from that fateful voyage to China, I immediately purchased a property brimming with artistic potential, offering sweeping views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. Full of enthusiasm, I began to transform my flat half-acre of predictable plantings and 1910 Tudor-style home into a miniature Huangshan.
Soon my simple lawn with its rhododendron border was transformed into a bustling work site. I rented a backhoe to sculpt a koi pond and cascading stream beds. A mobile crane brought in over 100 tons of moss-covered granite boulders, black pines, Western red cedars, hemlocks, Douglas firs, and Japanese maples, some with root-balls weighing as much as 8,000 pounds. My yard quickly became a place to enjoy visually as well as spiritually, and I was not alone. Wildlife promptly discovered the habitat I had created and new photographic opportunities arose.
I post no signs and have no fences, so it is quite common to discover total strangers walking along my pathways, lured by the soothing sounds of cascading waterfalls. The inviting landscape evokes the spirit of Huangshan that enchanted me so many years ago, and so long as visitors remain respectful, they’re not turned away. My decision to avoid contributing to suburban sprawl by remaining in an urban setting has been remarkably satisfying. I have enjoyed creating and maintaining critical habitat for the numerous wild denizens who share my tranquil setting.
There is something incredibly peaceful and grounding about working here, pruning the pines, weeding, planting and observing life thriving all around me. Simply put, my yard has become my therapist, my refuge, and a beautiful, relaxing place where I can explore my lifelong passions for nature and photography.