by Waitsel Smith
My sister Debbie has a wonderful oriental garden in Blackstone, Virginia. It's full of delightful surprises. The centerpiece is this striking red bridge.
This stone, shaped like a stylized head, is just one of many Japanese-inspired objects.
"Luxuriously lush" may be a little strong, but I don't think so. Notice all the touches of red.
A little fish pond is nestled next to the bridge. It's surrounded by interesting plants and creatures, including a frog that spouts water. When the pond is lit, it's especially pretty.
This is a neat little display, placed on the side of the tool shed behind the garage. The clay sign reads, "Hoe Like Nobody Is Watching." Evidently, women don't consider hoeing to be an attractive activity. :)
Debbie had part of the tool shed painted with a vine motif, and added this ceramic representation of one of the four winds from classical mythology.
Wonderful borders, birdhouses and birdfeeders and oriental objects abound. I especially like this split rail fence, which fits the rustic setting. Of course, the red azalea bush dominates when it's in bloom.
This is a magical little corner, with bunny rabbit motif. Debbie is really good at creating vignettes.
I didn't know the name of this flower, from the preceding garden spot; but Debbie told me it was a peony.
There are some gigantic pines on the four-acre property. Many are covered in vines, which gives the yard a more luxurious look.
Rustic birdfeeder and oriental cedar (assumed), beneath the vine-covered pine from the previous photo.
There are flagstone paths throughout the property, such as this one next to the deck, with its oriental railing. This path is lined with rhododendron, azaleas and other perennials. I love the pots sitting around.
This is an interesting spot, along the same path. My sister can give the name of every plant in her garden... and yours, probably. The only thing I can name here is rhododendron (rear) and azalea (right). I'm more of a tree guy. (See my article, "Trees.") I do, however, recognize the antique sundial. :)
This is an interesting fixture: a birdfeeder shaped like a Japanese temple atop an antique outdoor pedistal. I'm guessing the pedestal is teak.
This is a wonderful arrangement on her deck. Debbie loves Japanese maples and has several varieties.
Rare sculpture of a Japanese gentleman fishing.
A nice little grouping of plants and oriental objects.
Another of my sister's wonderful touches. I'm not sure what this stone object is, but it's intriguing. The screen behind could be awaiting a climbing plant... or not.
Nice view of the back of the house. Notice how the garden softens the hard lines of the architecture and ties it in to its surroundings.
These azaleas are what I would call "lipstick red." They visually dominate the backyard, as the red bridge does the garden. Red is just the best color to accent a green setting.
These big franklin firs make a nice statement in the midst of all the flowering bushes.
This is Debbie's second tool shed, located at the back of her property, and a good place to end our tour.
My sister Debbie got her love for gardening from our grandmother, Nannie. (See my article, "The Death of Nannie.") I don't know where she got her love for all things Oriental. Her two loves give you a good idea of who she is, esthetically and personally. For one thing, she is very thoughtful - yet often she seems far away in her thoughts, as though she were imagining being in her garden. The sound of her wind chimes on a spring day creates the mood that I believe fits Debbie's personality: deep, mysterious, beautiful, far away - what we typically think of as the oriental spirit.
Debbie says that life is about the journey, not the destination. She certainly exemplifies that. Every day, her garden helps to make her journey richer, fuller. Anyone who lacks a garden in their life, whether it is their own or someone else's, lacks something significant. Their journey is less than what it could be. There is a reason mankind began in a garden, and I think we will one day end in one. I can't wait to see what Debbie will do with it.
She has all my love, always.
Waitsel Smith, April 24, 2013
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Photos and Text © 2013 Waitsel Smith. All Rights Reserved.