Hammond Museum & Japanese Stroll Garden
Japan is a country of great beauty
with mountains, lakes, forest, islands, rivers, waterfalls
and seashores. From the earliest times the Japanese
people have revered the beauties of their natural surroundings.
Their gardens are recreations of natural scenes where
defective features of nature were eliminated and fair
features alone were selected and woven into a canvas
according to the designer's idea of beauty.
Originating in Korea and China, Sixth
Century Japanese gardens were landscape gardens which
adorned palaces and mansions of the nobility, as well
as temples and shrines. Thirteenth and Fourteenth Century
Buddhist priests of the Zen sect created more reposeful
and substantial gardens of stones, water and evergreens
which changed little throughout the four seasons.
Miniature scenic gems were connected
by garden paths leading to ceremonial teahouses. Variety
was sought for pleasure and contemplation, but at the
same time design focused on the entire garden as an
artistic production, characterized by unity and harmony.
In making of paths, the selection and arrangement of
stepping-stones and stone pavement, artistic effect
suited to the location was always kept in view, and
ponds, hills, streams and waterfalls all had to be so
disposed as to present an equally appealing effect from
whatever point they might be viewed. The idea was to
arrest strollers on their way, make them slow down so
they could appreciate an especially fine array of trees
or a particular flower. Sometimes a partially blocked
view of something ahead was used to beckon the strollers
along. At other times "borrowed scenery" (shakkei)
was used, perceptually enlarging the garden size by
the inclusion of a view outside the garden.
Westerners are accustomed to the concept
that the Garden as a whole is a metaphor - the garden
as Eden, for example. Even Voltaire exhorted his 18th-century
audience, "Cultivate your own garden!" he
was obviously not referring to a vegetable patch or
perennial border, he was referring to gardens metaphorically.
Japanese gardening techniques take
this idea much further. Not only is the garden as a
whole a microcosm of the world but each path, indeed
each rock that makes up the path, is a metaphor for
something else. The concept that individual components
of the garden symbolize different ideas is strictly
an Eastern notion. In Japan, the iconography is so well
known that modern designers will often "quote"
famous gardens of the past knowing that visitors will
understand the reference.
The Japanese garden invites contemplation:
every design element is carefully planned to give structure
to an idea. The rocks, sand, water and plants create
a microcosmic universe in which the whole is more than
the sum of its parts.
In designing this garden, Natalie
Hays Hammond borrowed the basic principles and ideas
of the Stroll Garden incorporating indigenous plantings
with popular and rare Japanese and Chinese specimens,
as exposure to wind and severe winters would permit.
"As people often travel to escape
routine problems and obligations, or to escape themselves,
so should they find peace in an unhurried journey through
a stroll garden."
"To please the eye. there are
the textures of stone scrolled with the delicate designs
of lichen, the patterns of tree trunks and clusters
of foliage, the play of light and shadow," the
varying shades of green as well as the seasonal colors
of great beauty. "To please the ear, there are
the songs of native birds, the hum of insects the chorale
of frogs... the occasional splash of carp in the lake,
"the crunch of pebbles underfoot, the whisper of
wind through the pines. "To please the sense of
scent, there are dry pine needles in the sun, the fragrance
of flowering shrubs, a breeze through mimosa or the
pungency of loam after a night rain."