An Ontario native, Mike has returned to his hometown after many years in Portland. While living in the big city, he worked as head gardener of the Portland Japanese Garden and his love for Japanese culture and gardening style is revealed in his beautiful yard.
Mike and wife, Jill, first of all, wanted to build a natural sanctuary in their yard, to create privacy with the use of trees and shrubs, and by adding berms and natural stone.
Many of the items accenting his yard are handmade by Mike, some designed by Mike and built with help of local artisans.
Like many of the yard elements, the Japanese lantern at the entrance to his back yard was made from recycled materials and ingenuity; a metal box, and shaped stones. The small gates that mark entrances and exits to different parts of the yard, one is made from a metal wheel, the other, a part taken from the home’s fireplace.
The short white concrete pillars that are seen around the walkway were found in the rock pile in the back yard and are now used as hose guides.
Mike and Jill found their gazebo at the Boise Flower and Garden show (built by Ken at Idaho Stone) and loved how it fit with the age and look of their house. Not only is it a primary feature of the back yard, it is also the main gathering spot for friends and family. It offers plenty of shade as well a sense of enclosure with a view of the flowers and garden art.
Instead of tearing out an overgrown juniper shrub, Mike used pruning techniques from the Japanese Garden to give the shrub structure and beauty.
These a just a few of elements that contribute to giving their garden a sense of place, sanctuary and quiet.
Some tips from Mike for gardeners:
Be educated on plants before you buy, see what grows well in your neighborhood.
The most important part about starting a garden is to have a plan and know your soil type and your water pH.
Instead of bamboo, Mike uses buckthorns as a replacement in his landscape.
Patience is important! Think 10-20 years ahead. Japanese gardeners spend a year observing how light plays in a space before making changes in a garden design.
New Zealand brass buttons (Leptinella squalida)
Red Hot Poker
Black Lace elderberry
Persian Ironwood (Parrotia persica)
Arborvitae (Degroot’s Spire)