By Alexandra Dittrich

David Besozzi lives and gardens in Glenville, NY.

"Starting back in 2007, I found myself in need of some landscaping after completing the construction of a new garage. I did not allocate any funds for landscaping in my initial budget, and so, with a wheelbarrow and a shovel I began what has become my hobby and passion.

In the beginning, I opted to go with a Japanese style garden, one that mimicked a karesansui—a rock or Zen garden. Although the central feature of the garden would be a dry stream bed, the topography of the yard dictated that the edges of the garden would slope or step in towards the dry stream bed. I then planted a variety of plants along these edges.

Over the years I have experimented with different plants. The garden has become more shady over time, hence the use of more shade tolerant plants as time has passed. Plantings include numerous variety of hosts, Japanese forest grass, junipers, clumping bamboo, astilbe, corabell, and much more. A dwarf Japanese maple acts as a focus point near the center of the garden.

Additionally, there are some several lanterns throughout the garden: a short yukimi lantern, mioshi post lantern, tachidoro pedestal lantern. There is also a Buddha statue that anchors the far end of the garden, and a Gaunyin statue that gazes towards Buddha from the other end. I also fenced in the garden and constructed a series gates, a moon window, and a sukashigaki style “see through fence.”

Over time the garden has continued to grow in size. A kaiyu-shiki-teien style, or stroll garden has developed along the far side of my garage. This area was once used to park a camper but is now slow developing into a natural expansion of the garden.

Over the years, the garden has become important to me in many ways. First it fulfilled a need to beatify my property. More importantly, it has come to sustain my love of gardening, a love that I admittedly did not hold prior to 2007. Its evidence of the power that nature can have over the human condition. In fact, as a result of these endeavors, I decided to name the garden, Songni Yuan. Translation: Pine Mud’s garden. Pine Mud has long been my Chinese name (given to me while studying Chinese in college). What could be more appropriate.

To find out more and read the history of the garden and all its plants and features (as well as my visits to other Japanese gardens), check out the garden blog I maintain (essentially a garden diary): My Zen Garden.

By the way, I have met Stan Hobbs (another subject highlighted on the GPOD here) and visited his garden. We both live in the same town—unusual that there would be two very nice Japanese style gardens in such a small place."

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