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Show #20/3607
Landskip - Work With Nature, Don't Fight Nature


The Beginning
DON AND ERIC GO TO THE POINT IT ALL STARTED, under the shade of the fantastic trees and not far from the mouth of a beautiful spring. In the beginning, which would have been the 1960's, he would park down on the road and hike into the property. At that point it was quite a wilderness. The trees had fallen over, there was a lot of debris on the ground - brush, etc. In the early days he didn't have much time but would come up here and rake and burn a little. He discovered that as he started to clean up the property wildflowers would start to appear and he found the property to be beautiful. He never started out to create a garden, instead what he was doing was just working with nature and he felt making it a little more beautiful, a little more usable.

Click here for more info

The Land Owned him
Don has owned this property for over 40 years and his sentiment and perspective has changed completely over time. It's evolved. In the beginning he felt it was a nice piece of property but he wasn't in love with it. Over the period of time that he came up here, started raking and doing different things, then camping, not just with his sons, but with friends and spending more time here he came to realize that he did not own this land. In fact the land owned him. He became a part of it. He spent more time in nature, studying and realizing what was here. It was always THE CAPABILITY OF THE SITE THAT INTRIGUED HIM and that's what led him into further development of the property.

Click here for more info

Blending Nature with The New
And DON HAS DONE AN EXCELLENT JOB OF BLENDING NATURE WITH HIS HOME, ETC. This place looks like it's been here for a hundred years, yet it's a fairly recent construction. This area represents remembrances of the past for Don. The house reminds him of a house he and his brother stayed in on a lake when on vacation before high school. His brother took him to Lake Decatur as a child and this house reminds Don of that house. It, too, had loft bedrooms on either side. Don had carried that dream with him for over 50 years. One night he was having dinner with the architect who designed this home and Don asked him if he would do the plans for this home. And, he did. The house and all of the views from the windows open out and provide wonderful views of the buttes and as well views of the pond.

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The Pond
THE POND IS ALSO INTERESTING. He's always loved nature and has always been close to water. Originally the pond area was just scrub. The reason for that was because the area was clay and nothing would grow there. He combined in his mind the thoughts that he had a lot of water and he had clay. It was a perfect place, he could now have his home on water, just like the home on Lake Decatur. But building a pond is much more than just digging a big hole and tossing some rocks around the edge of it.

Click here for more info

The Bridge
There are many focal points around the pond. THE BRIDGE is certainly one. It appears Asian inspired and draws ones eye towards the back of the pond. Don says he borrowed the idea from Monet's garden in Giverny the same way that Monet borrowed the bridge from the Japanese woodblock. He believes it was Hiroshige's woodblock print. So, basically all ideas we might think of as new are not necessarily new. They've often been around for a long time, we simply adapt them to our needs and our particular site. And that is important.

Click here for more info

Growing Moss On A Boulder
Many gardeners, especially those with shade gardens want their boulders to look natural, thus want moss growing on top of the boulder. BUT IT'S HARD TO GET MOSS TO ESTABLISH. A great way to grow moss on a boulder is to collect some moss, put it in a blender with some buttermilk and then spread it out on the rock. In a short period of time you'll have a nice crop of moss on your rocks, providing a natural look.

Click here for more info

Various Plants
The next area provides a perfectly WONDERFUL CANVAS FOR THE NUMEROUS PLANTS in the area. Many embody the spirit of the natural garden. Several of the plants around the water's edge are what we might call - colonizers - the ones that have the ability to spread and fill their space. They're doing a great job of growing the way one finds them in nature. Water Lilies or Nymphaea is present with its wonderful colors ranging from creamy buttery yellows and whites to some intense purple colors. Wonderful water accents. The native Indian Rhubarb is right at home here. These are plants that basically volunteer. They add a nice tropical, lush appearance to the bank.

Click here for more info

Natural Garden Versus A Native Garden
Eric thinks IT'S IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT A NATURAL GARDEN IS NOT NECESSARILY A NATIVE GARDEN. Natives are wonderful and of course they occur spontaneously in the natural garden but there are many cultivated varieties in the natural garden. Simply put, the philosophy behind the natural garden is that things are put out in a natural manner rather than in a regimented way. It's intended to be more indicative of how Mother Nature would plant those plants.

Click here for more info

Capability Brown
Although natural gardening has existed throughout the ages, it rose to prominence through Capability Brown, a British landscape architect. CAPABILITY BROWN HAD A VERY DIFFERENT WAY OF LOOKING AT GARDENING or landscaping and coined the term "landskip" which was his way of expressing the philosophy of working with nature, not fighting nature. The goal is to have your plantings blend in, when you walk around a corner it's there. With Capability and with this property the landscape is moving away from the very regimented gardens of Versailles, for example, and moving towards something that's more at home on a hillside.

Click here for more info

Cultivated Varieties
Eric notices that DON HAS INCORPORATED A LOT OF CULTIVATED VARIETIES. In particular, the Tea Roses on the fence. Don believes they tie in nicely as do the Ballerina Roses. The idea of the Ballerina roses was because he had a small clump of wild roses and when he saw the Ballerina roses in the nursery he thought -They're almost indigenous to the area. He decided to plant a lot of them. They require practically zero care and they bloom profusely.

Click here for more info

 

LINKS:

Garden Smart Plant List

Resort at Squaw Creek

Big Springs Gardens

GardenSmart :: ARTICLES :: Moss Gardening


Complete transcript of the show.


In this Episode GardenSMART visits a Lake Tahoe Resort and a secluded woodland garden nestled at the base of the 8,500 foot Sierra Nevada Buttes. Both are beautiful and both provide great gardening lessons.

This is beautiful countryside. There is much to see and much to do, it's a remarkable place to visit. Marc Sapoznik is the Marketing and PR manager for a beautiful resort in Squaw Valley and introduces the area. There are 15 ski resorts all around the lake but Squaw Valley was the site of the 1960 Winter Olympic Games which means they recently celebrated the 50th anniversary and had many 50th anniversary festivities. Although Lake Tahoe is known as a winter destination it truly is a year-round paradise. In the summertime, lake activities are popular - kayaking is an experience not to be missed, the underwater boulder fields are outstanding and more so because of the clarity of the water.

Eric and Marc are in a gondola high in the air. The views are spectacular at Lake Tahoe, whether at lake level or on a mountain peak, or on the cable car at Squaw Valley, USA. But on the cable car, which is at least several hundred feet in the air above the mountain range, the view is particularly spectacular. And, it's neat to see the slopes without snow. The rock outcroppings, the trees and vegetation are stunning. The mountain peaks in the area receive upwards of 400 inches per year, so it's not uncommon to find 15 feet of snow at the top of the mountains during winter months.

Summertime is beautiful, as well. The low humidity and crystal clear skies make for a wonderful summertime. In the summer months one will find people are biking, hiking as well as gardening. And that is because plants too are quite happy in this environment. Although the gardening season is relatively short people still love to garden.

Eric loves the view but is anxious to get his feet back on the ground. Plus he has a woodland garden to visit so is off. He thanks Marc. This is a fantastic mountain.

Eric next meets Don in the middle of a tranquil woodland paradise. This is Don's home. It takes an unusual man to undertake a project like this so Eric asks Don to tells us a little about himself.

Don feels it's been a long and wonderful journey. It started when he went into the Navy when he was 18. He had a wonderful career in the Navy but after that he moved to the Chico, California area and went into agriculture. He gravitated to agribusiness and spent roughly 10 years in that pursuit. Don become more interested in the business world, thus went back to Stanford and completed his Masters Degree. For 10 years after that he was Assistant Dean of the Stanford Business School. At the end of that time the Dean left and that was the end for Don as well. He wanted to do other things and acquired a 13 acre parcel of undeveloped land in Monterrey, California. He built that out into waterfront apartments and had a wonderful time. Don ran the apartments for 20 years, then sold and came to this area and started developing this garden. That was 1988 and he's spent roughly 20 years bringing this garden to the point it is today. His endeavors here have included building the house, the pond and improving the property.

DON AND ERIC GO TO THE POINT IT ALL STARTED, under the shade of the fantastic trees and not far from the mouth of a beautiful spring. In the beginning, which would have been the 1960's, he would park down on the road and hike into the property. At that point it was quite a wilderness. The trees had fallen over, there was a lot of debris on the ground - brush, etc. In the early days he didn't have much time but would come up here and rake and burn a little. He discovered that as he started to clean up the property wildflowers would start to appear and he found the property to be beautiful. He never started out to create a garden, instead what he was doing was just working with nature and he felt making it a little more beautiful, a little more usable. During those early days he did some camping here, he brought the boys up, they would park on the highway and pack their things in. Then they started building trails. Those trails are visible throughout the property today. In the beginning to get down to where the home is today was a major undertaking. They would be crawling over and under trees but today one can see down the trails. They're all built with switchbacks, they're all graveled and one can easily make the transition from down below to the upper areas. It definitely is a different place today. Don has opened the forest up, in a sense, and made it more accessible for visitors. Eric wants to see more.
Top

Don has owned this property for over 40 years and his sentiment and perspective has changed completely over time. It's evolved. In the beginning he felt it was a nice piece of property but he wasn't in love with it. Over the period of time that he came up here, started raking and doing different things, then camping, not just with his sons, but with friends and spending more time here he came to realize that he did not own this land. In fact the land owned him. He became a part of it. He spent more time in nature, studying and realizing what was here. It was always THE CAPABILITY OF THE SITE THAT INTRIGUED HIM and that's what led him into further development of the property.

There was a fire here in 1970. At that point he had owned the property some 8 or 10 years. He received call at work and they said there had been a fire but not to worry they had put it out. At his first opportunity he came up and discovered that about 1 acre of beautiful, big trees had been burned. He, at first, felt very badly about the loss of the trees but after cleaning up the mess came to the conclusion that the burned area was a perfect site for building a home. So, out of something bad, something good came of it.
Top

And DON HAS DONE AN EXCELLENT JOB OF BLENDING NATURE WITH HIS HOME, ETC. This place looks like it's been here for a hundred years, yet it's a fairly recent construction. This area represents remembrances of the past for Don. The house reminds him of a house he and his brother stayed in on a lake when on vacation before high school. His brother took him to Lake Decatur as a child and this house reminds Don of that house. It, too, had loft bedrooms on either side. Don had carried that dream with him for over 50 years. One night he was having dinner with the architect who designed this home and Don asked him if he would do the plans for this home. And, he did. The house and all of the views from the windows open out and provide wonderful views of the buttes and as well views of the pond. So, basically it's a dream that's come true for Don because he dreamed of having a home like that remembrance and it has now been his good fortune to have the home of his dreams.
Top

THE POND IS ALSO INTERESTING. He's always loved nature and has always been close to water. Originally the pond area was just scrub. The reason for that was because the area was clay and nothing would grow there. He combined in his mind the thoughts that he had a lot of water and he had clay. It was a perfect place, he could now have his home on water, just like the home on Lake Decatur. But building a pond is much more than just digging a big hole and tossing some rocks around the edge of it. One of the most impressive things about this pond is the pond really looks like it fits the site. The way the banks wind around the edge of the forest is one example. Don believes that when building something, to make it look natural, is more difficult than building something that's obviously artificial. His concept from the beginning was to make it feel like a glacier had come down off the hill and that the glacier was grinding and pushing boulders in front of it. When it got to this point, it receded and stopped and left this natural looking pond with boulders which were strewn around in a natural way. Basically, that was the way it started evolving. When they first cut and filled it felt as if he was destroying nature, rather than making it more beautiful. But then nature comes along and enhances the area. They planted boulders - they put boulders in and placed them in a natural way, the way one will find them when looking down a stream bed. Upon closer examination one notices a meadow. It has reclaimed the area. There are some natural plants, some they've planted but nature has taken over. Nature puts things back and heals the area. Originally the pond was not anything of this size or scope. They would pull out a point or dig into the hillside and created curvature. And that was important to Don. Too many artificial ponds are rounded out. This one, they worked very hard to pull back in, to sculpt the pond and to provide a feeling of depth because that provides a unique feeling. As the pond grew, Don drained and re-sculpted the pond a number of times in order to get it to the point where he felt it was natural. If one sees an outcropping of big stone or a big boulder they brought that stone or boulder in and buried it so it would look natural. That's why, if you pay enough attention to detail, in the end the overview provides that natural feeling. At least, that's what Don hopes he has accomplished.
Top

There are many focal points around the pond. THE BRIDGE is certainly one. It appears Asian inspired and draws ones eye towards the back of the pond. Don says he borrowed the idea from Monet's garden in Giverny the same way that Monet borrowed the bridge from the Japanese woodblock. He believes it was Hiroshige's woodblock print. So, basically all ideas we might think of as new are not necessarily new. They've often been around for a long time, we simply adapt them to our needs and our particular site. And that is important.

Eric feels the beautiful rock walls are impressive. They are not traditional stack stone walls, but actually a dry wall which is incredibly difficult to make, there's a real artistry to making them. Matching up the different sizes of stones is no easy task. They're set on a slight slope so that water can perk through. The stones are basically held in place by gravity.

The walls feed into a beautiful lawn and to Eric that's a fish out of water since this is a natural garden. Why turf? Don has grass here because it's beautiful and functional. Beauty and function are 2 pretty important things. The functional is - over the years family and friends have used this lawn. There's been tennis here, they've played back and forth, badminton, sun bathing, a number of things. It's been an important part of family activities and they take place right between the pond and house. The boulders are a nice element in the lawn. The boulders pop up, as discussed earlier. They're mostly buried and break the large expanse of green space and bring a natural beauty to a very functional lawn area.
Top

Many gardeners, especially those with shade gardens want their boulders to look natural, thus want moss growing on top of the boulder. BUT IT'S HARD TO GET MOSS TO ESTABLISH. A great way to grow moss on a boulder is to collect some moss, put it in a blender with some buttermilk and then spread it out on the rock. In a short period of time you'll have a nice crop of moss on your rocks, providing a natural look.
Top

The next area provides a perfectly WONDERFUL CANVAS FOR THE NUMEROUS PLANTS in the area. Many embody the spirit of the natural garden. Several of the plants around the water's edge are what we might call - colonizers - the ones that have the ability to spread and fill their space. They're doing a great job of growing the way one finds them in nature. Water Lilies or Nymphaea is present with its wonderful colors ranging from creamy buttery yellows and whites to some intense purple colors. Wonderful water accents. The native Indian Rhubarb is right at home here. These are plants that basically volunteer. They add a nice tropical, lush appearance to the bank. The Iris are great, they can be started with a small clump and will spread down into the deeper water and it blooms profusely.
Top

Eric thinks IT'S IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT A NATURAL GARDEN IS NOT NECESSARILY A NATIVE GARDEN. Natives are wonderful and of course they occur spontaneously in the natural garden but there are many cultivated varieties in the natural garden. Simply put, the philosophy behind the natural garden is that things are put out in a natural manner rather than in a regimented way. It's intended to be more indicative of how Mother Nature would plant those plants.

A good example of that is the mixed forest of Conifers which were part of the natural garden. The philosophy here has been to fit into nature. Don believes that nature is the senior partner, we're the junior partners. We fit in, in his mind, even though we've embellished the gardens, 99% of it was here. The big, tall trees were here, the water was here, the terrain was here. All he's done is add to the beauty, make it more livable and useful.
Top

Although natural gardening has existed throughout the ages, it rose to prominence through Capability Brown, a British landscape architect. CAPABILITY BROWN HAD A VERY DIFFERENT WAY OF LOOKING AT GARDENING or landscaping and coined the term "landskip" which was his way of expressing the philosophy of working with nature, not fighting nature. The goal is to have your plantings blend in, when you walk around a corner it's there. With Capability and with this property the landscape is moving away from the very regimented gardens of Versailles, for example, and moving towards something that's more at home on a hillside. Don has prided himself on the fact that there was no landscape architect here. It was more of a - What is the capability of the site? Don feels that by spending time in nature, that nature reveals itself to you as you go along. After you've let nature reveal itself, then a new vista opens to you and the garden just seems to reveal itself to you. Don never started out to make a natural garden. He started out to make it more beautiful and that's what he hopes he's done. Eric feels Don has definitely done that.
Top

Eric notices that DON HAS INCORPORATED A LOT OF CULTIVATED VARIETIES. In particular, the Tea Roses on the fence. Don believes they tie in nicely as do the Ballerina Roses. The idea of the Ballerina roses was because he had a small clump of wild roses and when he saw the Ballerina roses in the nursery he thought -They're almost indigenous to the area. He decided to plant a lot of them. They require practically zero care and they bloom profusely.

Eric also likes the transitional areas from the pond edge into the forest. Here Don has sprinkled Japanese Maples throughout. There are other native trees, things like Tag Alders and Quacking Aspens. There is also a beautiful row of native Azaleas that light up when in bloom. But as beautiful as all these plants are there is no question the star of the show is the fact that this is all framed by the Sierra Nevada Buttes in the background. They are breathtaking.

In this garden it's apparent that Don has a passion for water. From the top of the garden to the bottom there is a wonderful sound of babbling brooks and waterfalls. It's magical. Don feels this property has provided a wonderful opportunity to work with all the water. Where the water comes out of the pond, he's made it into a naturalized stream bed. The bubbler evokes a memory from childhood. Don feels that water is a key element in our lives. Here he's been able to utilize the water and bring about a tranquility. It's simply magical.

Eric thanks Don for sharing this garden. It's a great example of a natural garden. And it provides lessons for everyone. Don appreciates the comments. It's been his pleasure to have Eric here. He loves sharing this garden and to be able to share it with so many people means a lot to him. He's enjoyed the day. Thanks Don. Big Springs Gardens is one of a kind, it's a wonderful place. And, you're a unique individual. It's been our pleasure to have met you.
Top

LINKS:

Garden Smart Plant List

Resort at Squaw Creek

Big Springs Gardens

GardenSmart :: ARTICLES :: Moss Gardening

   
   
 
   
   
   
   
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