June 23, 2019

Channelling Hokusai in Summerhill

A New Toronto Garden Installation in Shady Summerhill


The project seemed straight-forward: the client, Dawn, wanted a new shade garden facing the street. I first visited the site in April 2019 so most of the existing perennials were dormant and the garden was visually a blank slate as shown below:



Summerhill Toronto New Front Shade Garden Makeover Before by Paul Jung--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Summerhill Toronto New Front
Shade Garden Makeover Before



Summerhill Toronto New Front Shade Garden Makeover Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Services Company
Summerhill Toronto New Front
Shade Garden Makeover Before 

Toronto Summerhill New Front Shade Garden Makeover Before by Paul Jung--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Toronto Summerhill New Front
Shade Garden Makeover Before


Summerhill Toronto New Front Garden Makeover Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Summerhill Toronto New Front
Garden Makeover Before



New Summerhill Toronto Front Shade Garden Renovation Before by Paul Jung--a Toronto Organic Gardener
New Summerhill Toronto Front
Shade Garden Renovation Before 

Summerhill Toronto New Front Garden Makeover Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Services Company
Summerhill Toronto New Front
Garden Makeover Before


Summerhill Toronto New Front Perennial Garden Makeover Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Services Company
Summerhill Toronto New Front
Perennial Garden Makeover Before


I came up with a list of perennials and small shrubs for the partly sunny-shady site. My choices offered multi-season floral and foliage interest. Dawn didn't go over the list with a fine toothed comb so everything I suggested was ordered and delivered for "transplanting day." 

Then things became interesting...

When I arrived, Dawn was out walking her dog so she left a note advising me of her imminent return. The note also had this very well-known picture printed on it:



"Under a wave off Kanagawa"), also known as The Great Wave or simply The Wave, is a woodblock print by the Japanese ukiyo-e artist Hokusai.
The Great Wave off Kanagawa


She wrote instructions that she wanted the new garden to give her a similar sense of energy as depicted by the famous wave (I'm paraphrasing.)

(I'll copy and paste these notes from Wikipedia about "The Great Wave off Kanagawa":

"The Great Wave off Kanagawa (神奈川沖浪裏 かながわおきなみうら Kanagawa-oki nami ura, lit. "Under a wave off Kanagawa"), also known as The Great Wave or simply The Wave, is a woodblock print by the Japanese ukiyo-e artist Hokusai. It was published sometime between 1829 and 1833[1] in the late Edo period as the first print in Hokusai's series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji. It is Hokusai's most famous work, and one of the most recognizable works of Japanese art in the world."

(Source: The Great Wave off Kanagawa))



The Fine Art and Science of Digging Holes


Hmmmm...


There is a science behind transplanting correctly but where to dig these darn holes relies more on the gardener's aesthetic sensibilities. Dawn's "instructions" were nebulous and fluid in meaning (pun intended). She didn't show me a picture of a Japanese garden (or any garden) and said "copy this, or approximate it anyway."  Just this picture, albeit very well-known, from Edo-period Japan and words about "feeling the energy from the new garden similar to what the wave emits" or something to that effect.

Hokusai's famous print shows a huge wave about to devour three fishing boats--its pent up energy is about destroy the hapless fishermen below the towering crest. It is both terrifying and beautiful, dwarfing revered Mount Fuji in the background.

I'd like the new garden to be beautiful over time (not so much terrifying) with a sense of energy, movement and flow; consequently, I placed the perennials and a few shrubs to emulate streams, rivulets, eddies and minimized the appearance of straight lines.

After a full day of transplanting, I showed Dawn my three dimensional living interpretation of Hokusai's woodblock print. I wasn't exactly sure how she would react (and, to be honest, I don't think she even knew what to expect) but she loved the results as shown below:



Summerhill Toronto New Front Shade Garden Makeover After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Services Company
Summerhill Toronto New Front
Shade Garden Makeover After



Summerhill Toronto New Front Shade Garden Makeover After by Paul Jung--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Summerhill Toronto New Front
Shade Garden Makeover After

Toronto Summerhill New Front Shade Garden Makeover After by Paul Jung--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Toronto Summerhill New Front
Shade Garden Makeover After 



Summerhill Toronto New Front Garden Makeover After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Summerhill Toronto New Front
Garden Makeover After 



New Summerhill Toronto Front Shade Garden Renovation After by Paul Jung--a Toronto Organic Gardener
New Summerhill Toronto Front
Shade Garden Renovation After




Summerhill Toronto New Front Garden Makeover After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Services Company
Summerhill Toronto New Front
Garden Makeover After



Summerhill Toronto New Front Perennial Garden Makeover After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Services Company
Summerhill Toronto New Front
Perennial Garden Makeover After


As a bonus (and a first for me), Dawn invited me to take this picture from the second floor deck, giving us a birds-eye view of the garden's overall shape and plant placement.



Summerhill New Front Garden Makeover After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Services Company
Summerhill New Front Garden Makeover After 


This will be an amazing garden (I can be immodest here) in a few years if watered and weeded regularly. The perennials should easily double or triple in size once established and the black mulch will be mostly hidden by foliage.

I'm eagerly waiting for my next garden installation to emulate Mona Lisa's wry smile.

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