#FridayVibes – My Garden Tour & The Inspiration Behind It

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.

6 Responses to “#FridayVibes – My Garden Tour & The Inspiration Behind It”

  1. Dale Flynn says:

    This is fabulous–thanks

  2. Sandra Johnson says:

    Gorgeous refuge with a ton of hard work put into it. It’s such a serene and peaceful setting, just perfect.

  3. Jeff Bushnell says:

    So glad to see your fabulous garden. It is even more beautiful than I imagined. Some years ago my wife and I ripped out our front lawn and made a garden as well. Not an oriental garden, but filled with many colored flowers. I love the beauty of gardens!

  4. Arla says:

    Awesome tour!!! I love the gardens.

    Question for next time: I traveled with you in Venezuela years ago (with Roger Tory Peterson along as well). What is happening there now to the wildlife? Is it being poached to extinction because the economy is in shambles? Also, what is the effect of Covid-19 on wildlife in poorer countries like India where tourism has dried up? Are they in more danger because people have less money to buy food?

    Thanks for all you do.

  5. Jean Tryon says:

    A place I would like to return to [been there only once] is Torres del Paine. Haunting. Inspiring. Lonely, yet one is never alone there… Those mountains call to me. Sadly, it must be on my bucket list for my next life.

    Love your garden, and yes it is better than the PDX Japanese Garden! Who feeds the fish when you are on the road?

    An aside: it would be helpful if the mike is closer to you [because you sound like you have a bit of an echo. Or is that the tequila slurring your words? ]

  6. ALAN ALPERT says:

    You mentioned an upcoming trip to photograph snow leopards. I was there this past February. Here is a podcast by one of the guides I was with and he mentions our trip. I Got some great shots See my Instagram page Alpert.alan
    https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/wild-and-exposed-podcast/id1400603504?i=1000472185159

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