Backstage@Bloedel: Upper Japanese Garden Renovation

A Japanese garden is successful when it engages you visually.
It achieves this when its design is strong, when it lacks nothing, and when it contains nothing extra.

The upper Japanese garden consists of the entry path, the white granite rock garden, and the mounds visible from the deck of the Japanese house.

The objectives of the renovation were to:

· Rebuild the fences that parallel the entry

· Rebuild the mounds

· Place trees in the garden to complete the design

· Improve safety by leveling the pavers

The photo below is a “before” picture, taken in June, 2013.

This photo is an “after” picture, taken in February, 2014.

The differences between these views are described on the following pages. Problems are described with notes on the “before” picture; solutions are described with notes on the “after” picture.

This executive summary concludes with four paired pictures of the finished renovation. The first image in each pair is reproduced without any notes. We’ve done that so you can see what the final result looks like. The second image has notes describing the major design theme implemented in that view.

The Situation:

A: Sections of the entry fences were missing because a cottonwood tree fell across the path in December 2012

B: Pavers adjacent to the cedar were tripping hazards; there was no clear path around the rock garden

C: Overgrown vegetation obscured two medium-sized stones; the vegetation contributed no visual interest

D: This secondary mound did not contribute to the feeling of depth of view that was desired.

E: This primary mound is weak; it should tie horizontal features together

F: This large stone was partially buried; it did not relate to nearby stone elements

G: This mound was too low and did not relate well to the other elements, and it was infested with voles

H: The entry fences were replaced

I: Pavers were cleaned, then reset, leaving clear paths around the rock garden

J: With the vegetation removed and a dwarf white pine transplanted, the existing stones are now revealed

K: The secondary mound has been raised, irrigation added, and it’s been replanted; it now adds to the felling of depth

L: The primary mound is now part of a strong horizontal design theme. The large stone now relates to the stones in the rock garden; this ties the mound to the rock garden

M: This mound was excavated, new soil brought it and the area replanted

The Results:

N: The presence of the dwarf white pine on the left now guides visitors to look at the gate and the house as they enter

O: The dwarf white pine supplies visual closure to the right of the gate and separates the gate from the mounding area

P: The group of five stones in the rock garden are visually extended by the pair of stones on the left mound

Q: The strong horizontal lines in the mounds now complement the horizontal elements in the rock garden, deck and roof

R: The large stone on the mound now forms a group with the pair of stones in the rock garden, visually tying the mound and the rock garden



This document is an executive summary. Its purpose is to describe the major design themes underlying the project. If you would like more information about how the project was done you can look at detailed descriptions of the project phases. They can be found in the following companion documents:

· Upper Japanese Garden Renovation – Entrance

· Upper Japanese Garden Renovation – Mounds

· Upper Japanese Garden Renovation – Pavers

· Upper Japanese Garden Renovation – Trees

Renovation of the upper and lower Japanese Gardens is a major, continuing, project at Bloedel Reserve. The planning for the upper garden project started two years ago. Execution of the project has taken almost a year. It has required considerable effort by garden staff, interns, volunteers, contractors and consultants. A companion project, the Lower Japanese Garden Renovation, is currently being planned.

One Response to “Backstage@Bloedel: Upper Japanese Garden Renovation”

  1. Good way of explaining, and good article to take data
    concerning my presentation topic, which i am going to present in college.

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