Peace is the Path

As the beautiful and warm fall days continue, so do my outdoor walking jaunts. When my work finished early today, and Greg’s plans shifted, we made a spontaneous decision to drive to Springfield, Missouri.

We enjoyed a delightful light lunch and tea at the tea house located inside Relics Antique Mall. And although we did a quick walk through the huge flea market, that was not my chosen destination for today’s walk. Springfield has a botanical center, that happened to be near the antique mall. Within the center is a 7.5 acre Japanese garden. It’s been several years since I’ve walked through that garden. It was the perfect day for another visit.

Established in 1985, the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden includes koi ponds, meditation gardens, a sand garden, a tea house, a Moon bridge, waterfalls, and numerous plants, trees, stone pagodas and lanterns, all easily accessed by winding paved paths.

The garden was created in honor of the relationship between Springfield and her sister city, Isesaki, Japan. Gardeners from Isesaki provided many hours of support and shared their knowledge and creative ideas for this authentic stroll garden.

The garden’s namesake, Yuriko Mizumoto Scott, was instrumental in bringing the garden into existence. She served as a translator and host for the Japanese architects, gardeners and carpenters who visited Springfield during the garden’s creation. The garden was named in her honor in 2004.

Strolling through the garden, it is obvious that great care went into the creation of this enchanted place. And it is just as obvious that great attention is given to its upkeep and maintenance. The garden is simple in its design and yet endlessly intriguing. Grass covered mounds of earth create interest while defining spaces, and natural elements, such as rocks, water and trees provide beauty and also healing benefits.

This walled Japanese garden is one of the most peaceful places I have ever encountered. Today there were only a few other people walking the paths and we saw them but briefly. It felt like we had the garden to ourselves. There was time to reflect as we walked, and sit on one of the many benches placed strategically along the path, and talk quietly.

As I walked, soaking up the sunshine and the beauty, listening to the twitter of birds and the gurgling of water, I was reminded of this quote by Dan Millman:

There is no path to Happiness. Happiness is the path. There is no path to Love. Love is the path. There is no path to Peace. Peace is the path.

These are my paths…Happiness, Love, Peace…along with Health. Ever my companions, they guide my journey.

I left the Japanese Stroll Garden inspired to add some creative elements to my own backyard garden. And I left determined to return to this gorgeous paradise more often. Next time I will bring a backpack full of healthy snacks, a journal, a sketchpad…and stay a while.

Day 152: My Japanese Garden

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Today, as the last plants for my version of a Japanese Garden went into the ground, I decided I could “call” this one, and declare it as my first. Cedar mulch was also put down. I still have several important elements to include: a water feature or at the least, a large basin of water on the ground, a Japanese lantern, and a dry “creek” bed created from smooth, small stones. But the planting is done. The rest will be added as I find the right pieces.

As the sun sunk toward the horizon, I sat contentedly in a chair on the brick patio, and surveyed my work. My grandson, Dayan, helped to design this garden. He selected most of the plants and helped me to arrange them on the ground, still in their pots. I planted them as I had time. We had fun looking for appropriate Japanese or Asian plants . The Japanese maple is the anchor for this part of the garden. We included a variety of ornamental grasses, clematis, irises, day lilies, Japanese ground cover, and several Asiatic lilies. Those had fun, whimsical names like Tiny Robin, Tiny Bee and Tiny Toes. They are so aromatic. Their sweet scent was carried to me by a refreshing, cool breeze.

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Greg lugged in quite a few large rocks for me, finding most of them in a vacant lot. He got permission to cart them away. Rocks are an essential element for a Japanese garden and I love the look of them. Their red, brown, rust and cream colors complement the patio very well. The cats love climbing onto them and sitting there, kings of their world. In fact, the cats seem to enjoy the garden as much as I do, exploring it daily and finding shady spots to take their afternoon naps. As the garden matures, it will be a fun place for them to play.

It feels wonderful to have this section of the garden completed. Extending across the back of the yard, this serene space abuts the brick patio on its west side and ends at the meditation area. It’s not large enough to be a strolling garden, but it conveys a sense of peace, tranquility and beauty. Today as I planted and spread mulch, tiny white butterflies darted from flower to flower. I look forward to attracting many more butterflies to the garden.

With that part of the yard done, I’m turning my attention to the next section that I will plant. The Japanese garden will transition into an Apothecary Garden, which will lie in the middle of the yard and along the south side of the patio. I’ve already made a list of suitable plants and herbs to purchase. Tonight, before I headed into the house, I broke ground in the center of the Apothecary Garden and planted three East Friesland sage plants. I just couldn’t wait!

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Day 118: Mizumoto Japanese Strolling Garden

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Today’s first was a “seize the day” type opportunity. It was the only day I had available this week to visit the Japanese Garden in Springfield, MO. With the promise ahead of a beautiful, sunny, breezy day, I did indeed seize the chance. So did Greg, who traveled to Springfield with me.

Last week, the gates were closed and locked, preventing entry into the garden. Today, the gates stood open, inviting visitors to enter and stroll. Well, enter and stroll after paying $3.00 for admission. The leisurely walk through that enchanted place was well worth the nominal fee.

The 7.5 acre Mizumoto Japanese Strolling Garden is the oldest attraction at the Springfield Botanical Gardens, opening in 1985. Enclosed by a fence, the garden offers serenity and beauty and an opportunity to disconnect from busyness. We didn’t get far down the path before we stopped in appreciation to snap pictures. The white and pink Dogwood trees near the front gate were in gorgeous full bloom. We followed the path and explored the meditation garden, which in a few weeks will be hidden behind a curtain of bamboo, and stopped to sit for a while on a stone bench near the first large koi pond.

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A pair of Canadian Geese immediately approached, their two fuzzy goslings gliding along between them. They came right to the edge of the pond, near our feet, looking at us expectantly. When we failed to produce any food for them, they put on a little show for us any way. We laughed at the antics of the goslings. They would dive beneath the water’s surface, disappearing completely, and then pop up in an unexpected place, shake the water out of their downy feathers and then dive again. I’ve never been so close to baby geese before! After entertaining us for several minutes, they glided away.

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The path wound through the traditional Japanese landscaping. I was there to enjoy the beauty of the gardens and there to gather ideas for my own garden, which will feature a small Japanese meditation area. And I found so much to inspire me! We explored bridges and islands, seating areas with stone or wooden benches, bamboo screens and fences and a traditional Japanese tea house. A waterfall sent water cascading into a pond in front of the tea house, which in turn flowed beneath the Moon Bridge and pooled into another body of water before culminating in the pond where the goslings played. Water is an important feature of a Japanese garden, as are stones, trees, and wooden bridges and structures. There were at least a dozen stone Japanese garden lanterns scattered throughout the grounds as well, varying in size from small to very large.

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I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the Japanese garden today. I left feeling refreshed and full of peace and joy. I also gathered many great ideas for transforming my own little corner into a space of similar beauty and tranquility. I won’t have the playful goslings or the geese gliding by on still water. But I also won’t have to watch where I step as I roam about my garden with bare feet!

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Greg took this pic, accidently switching to black & white mode. I like it though!