Tag Archives: nature

The Haiku and the Japanese Garden

misho journeyPrecise in structure yet allowing artistic creativity, the haiku is a form of Japanese poetry that can well be compared to the meticulously designed gardens that prove inspirational to those who craft using the power of the pen. This poetic art form goes back to 17th century Japan and the trick is to convey meaning within seventeen syllables in a precise five-seven-five format. Traditionally, haiku was used to express views and impressions of the natural world.

Matsuo Basho, whose birth name was Matsuo Kinsaku (1644 to 1694) one of the most recognized poets of Japan’s Edo period, is credited with fine tuning the “hokku” format. A hokku was an opening verse that introduced the “haikai no renga”, a form of collaborative poetry popular at the time. It wasn’t until the late 19th century, long after Basho’s death, that the word hokku was changed to haiku and the format became a standardized, stand alone art form.

Just as the haiku uses discipline for creating beauty, so does the Japanese garden. The Karesansui, or dry landscape style of garden is perhaps the best comparison. These gardens were influenced by followers of Zen Buddhism, who found the simplistic design conducive to meditation. One well known example of this garden style is in the Daisen-in sub-temple, part of the Daitoku-ji grounds in Kyoto, Japan. It was completed in 1513.

Much like a haiku, where the words on paper need to be studied to get the full meaning, these dry landscape gardens must be studied to interpret what the designer intended. In a Karesansui garden you must use your imagination to see that carefully raked gravel or sand as a tranquil pond. You must imagine that those rocks strategically placed in that pond are islands. The beauty of the garden and the haiku is this is that no two people will have the same vision, the same interpretation.

In Basho’s poem “Temple Bells Die Out” shown below, the poet describes dusk experienced by someone relaxing in a Japanese garden. The chiming of the bells is man made. The fragrance of the flowers is nature personified. The contrast, much as that found between carefully constructed pathways and the timeless sound of water cascading into a pond, both features of Japanese gardens, make for “a perfect evening.”

words upon a page
pathways through tended gardens
lead to inner peace

M. Rose 2010

temple bells die out
the fragrant blossoms remain
a perfect evening

Matsuo Basho (written between 1686 and 1691)

Bonsai bugs!

shutterstock_31707127Bonsai trees are very delicate and are susceptible to decay, disease, damage, and infestations by pests. Lack of proper care is one of the top reasons for these problems, and if your tree gets into trouble you will need to know how to treat the tree without damaging it.

Some of the problems that you may come across include spider mites, scale insects, mealy bugs, aphids, green fly, black fly, and gall aphid. There are also several different types of moths that can attack a bonsai tree. They include the goat moth, leopard moth, geometer moth, and ermine moths.

You will want to watch the leaves of your plant, spider mites and greenhouse mites attack the bottom of the leaves that will leave marks, holes and discoloration as signs that they are present. You may also notice webs on the tree, as there are some types of pests that will leave webs as an indication of infestation. You will need to treat the tree at the first sign of infestation. Spray the foliage, especially the undersides, with insecticides, mild symptoms can be handled with acaricides. You will want to use a variety of acaricides to keep the pest from adapting to the chemical. Red mites and spider mites will also attack the needles of evergreen trees and will need to be treated immediately. With evergreen trees, check the cracks in the bark for eggs, this is the mites preferred location for laying eggs.

The needles of evergreen trees will turn a brownish color when they are infested. Caution is needed though, be aware that evergreen needles will turn this color naturally during its’ winter dormancy period. Look for the webs that the mites leave as an indicator also. If your bonsai is evergreen or deciduous you can wait until warm weather and do further treatment by removing, and destroying the affected branches, and foliage.

Another sign of infestation that you can check is the leaves for the eggs. Most pests will attach their eggs to the bottoms of the leaves, and these will show up as red spots on the leaf. The eggs can be destroyed with oil-based products, or if the eggs are found on very few leaves, you may just remove and destroy the affected leaves.