Friday, June 11, 2010


Late afternoon on a cloudy spring day. John and I stop to visit our friends Bill and Gwil in Corvallis, Oregon. They have invited us to view their garden, Momiji-en,  inspired by the Portland Japanese Garden back in the 1970's when it was being designed. Before I even enter the house, I'm drawn to the outside altar with statues of Kuan Yin, tiny bonsai, and bamboo lattice. This is going to be a real treat!

Bill and Gwil welcome us with green tea harvested from the tea plants in their garden. The taste is rich and deep, earthy and green, but not bitter. Complementing the tea, they serve thin ginger wafter and gelatinous sweets eaten with an elegant toothpick. We view the garden from the vantage point of royalty and poets seated on a pavilion, but this one is inside.

Refreshed, we enter the garden for a tour. Momiji-en means 'Place of Maples' and there are indeed several varieties of maples—at least a dozen.  Of particular elegance are those bordering the stream and waterfalls. Purple iris are just beginning to bloom by the stream, reminding me of a haiku I wrote in the Portland Japanese Garden:
remembering those gone
thankful to be here
pond of purple iris

We stroll the dewy path leading to the tea garden. Rounded irregularly shaped stones slow the guest down, inviting him to enjoy the sounds and smells and textures of the garden. Everything is perfect here—thirty years of designing and maintaining a garden that rewards them with beauty through every season. Bill and Gwil have spent most of the day candling pines, a meticulous task that leaves your fingers sticky with pine pitch. They give John and I pointers as we have several pines in the backyard of our new home. At one point on our garden tour, Gwil takes out his I-phone and begins punching buttons. He's much too polite to be checking his phone messages while we're there. Intrigued, I ask him what he's doing. "I'm regulating the flow and sound of the waterfall," he says. And, sure enough, as we stand there attentively, we can hear the variations.

all the sounds
of water

For photographs of this spectacular garden as well as others that Bill has designed, log on to


  1. devotion
    in a garden the world
    becomes new

    Many thanks for this portrait of peace. Merrill

  2. Hi, Margaret! Thanks to Merrill, I came to your blog to read this, and your other work. Love this haibun and the photo -- so serene and beautiful... How amazing that people here have a tea garden.