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Gardening Styles Revisited

March 7th, 2021

Each gardener has his or her own set of gardening guidelines that correspond to certain predetermined gardening styles. If you know your gardening style and if you can apply that style to creating an organic garden, then you have pretty much captured an edge over other gardening enthusiasts. But, if you do not have a gardening style that you can apply to organic vegetable growing, then you could be at a strong disadvantage. What are the different styles of gardening that actually apply to successful organic vegetable harvesting? Here are some of the types that you could consider:

Residential Gardening

This is the most common of all gardening techniques. It is often referred to as “backyard gardening”. If you are just a novice and not seasonally experienced in vegetable gardening, then residential gardening is your best approach. The primary purpose of the residential garden is to feed a family. A steady supply of home grown vegetables can not only feed your family now, if you understand canning and preserving, your garden can nourish your family long after the production period of your garden has ended.

The second appeal of residential gardening lies in its aesthetic appeal. Your garden can add color and depth to your landscape. It is quite transforming to see what was once only grass, a wooden deck, or a concrete balcony develop into an eye pleasing sculpture.

Residential gardening does not require a great deal of space. A window sill, deck, balcony or other small area that has sufficient light can easily produce a small crop. These small confined areas are easy to monitor and at the same time, easy to maintain. Protecting your garden from pests is much easier in a smaller area. The great thing about residential gardening is the ease with which it transforms the gardening wannabe into the gardening professional. It takes the rookie, having no knowledge of planting, growing, and harvesting, to a level of understanding where other gardening styles become the dream and the possibility.

Specialized Gardening

Specialized gardening usually involves non-residential areas. Common examples of specialized gardening include amusement parks, botanical gardens, zoos, commercial landscaping along highway right of ways, and many more. Making the landscape more attractive seems to be the most common underlying theme of the specialized garden. These landscaping endeavors are rarely the responsibility of a single person. Often times a staff of botanists and gardeners work together to maintain the garden’s aesthetic attractiveness. These gardens are often created to support or deliver revenue to their owners or the organizations supporting them.

Specialized gardens rarely sport vegetables like corn, tomatoes, potatoes, peas, or beans. They, in agreement with their type, focus more on the special or more rare type of flora. Unique flowers, shrubs, even trees are often found in these areas. But, when a specialized garden does focus on vegetable planting, wide row techniques, sewing seeds in a wide band rather than in a single row, are most often applied.

Impact Gardening

By definition, impact gardening focuses on getting the most out of a small space. It involves using a relatively small gardening area and finding ways to maximize its gardening potential. In order to accomplish this objective, plants are strategically organized and systematically planted in a “crowded” format. This type of gardening requires a basic knowledge of plant types; annuals, perennials, shrubs, trees, and even ground cover. Understanding the types of plants most suited to the environment and the climate is paramount to successful impact gardening.

Impact gardening requires planning. A haphazard approach will not work. A layout of which plants will be placed where is paramount to successful impact growing. The best approach is to actually draw out a schematic of the garden labeling specific areas and then filling those areas with the appropriate plants. These designs or surveys should be as detailed as possible to include plant specifics and cost analysis.

There are four basic steps to successful impact gardening.

Step one, survey a space for the garden and mark off the specific site. It is best to have the long side of the plot aligned with the sun, from east to west. This helps keep the plants from burning in the summer heat, and ruining your crops.
Step two, design the garden. It should be attractive yet maintain its functionality.
Step three, make long thin beds, eight feet longer than they are wide. This makes it easy to weed and plant. Build the bed frames out of long 2×8′s. If you make several, you can lay them end to end, parallel to the sun.
Step four, use soaker hoses to water. Place them up and down the rows, about one foot from the edges of the bed.
Indoor Gardening
Growing plants indoors is not only a science, it is an art. This type of gardening can be as small as a few potted plants kept on the coffee table or near the front door; or as large as a greenhouse with thousands of plant varieties housed in a climate controlled environment. These greenhouses or conservatories are designed and built with controlled systems for heating and air conditioning, whatever the plants require. Unfortunately this hot house type of gardening is more suitable to the commercial grower because of the expense factor involved.

For the home owner, the greatest benefit of indoor gardening is the simple fact that plants can be grown year round, completely independent of extreme climatic conditions like heat, cold, wind, or rain. Light is the most common limiting factor for indoor gardening. Most plants do not do well indoors, so it is important to match the light needs of a particular plant with the amount of light you can offer it. There are three general light categories–high, medium and low light. An easy way to measure how much light is in a particular area is to use a light meter, which is typically available at local nurseries, or simply hold your hand between the source of light and the spot where the plant is to be set. The amount of shadow gives a rough indication of available light. If there is no shadow or if a shadow is difficult to see, then that is an indication of low light.

Water Gardening

If you like low supervision gardening and love fish and aquatic plants, then water gardening is your style. Perhaps the most important consideration in water gardening is location selection. Most aquatic plants and fish need plenty of sun, so a place that gets 6-8 hours of direct sunlight is your best bet. Choose a site away from tall shrubs and trees. This site will then provide the best lighting and hopefully prevent the accumulation of leaf debris on the pond surface.

Planning is once again very important. Make sure you apply both common sense and some basic gardening principles to your site plan before you begin construction. Consider the overall size of your property, the size of your site selection, and your ability to maintain your garden before you scoop the first shovel of dirt. It goes without saying, small ponds are best for small properties. A container on a deck may be all that your need in accordance with the space you have available. Features like waterfalls, rock work, lighting and fountains are budget dependent. They may add style, but they could be overly costly.

Aquatic plants should cover no more than 50 – 60 percent of the water surface. Some are free floating while others are marginals or partially submerged. Selection depends on pond size and your personal preference. Water lilies are very popular and can add drama and fragrance even in small gardens. Some plants oxygenate the water and they help keep the water clear and the pool healthy. Fish can be a beneficial addition, because of their scavenging activities. They naturally clean up debris that would otherwise accumulate in the garden. They also can help control mosquito larva, and other insect development.

Community Gardening

Community gardening is becoming quite popular especially in highly populated urban areas. It involves concentrated efforts from different members of the community to help plant, maintain, and then harvest a garden. It is a huge undertaking, but the members of the community are given autonomy to style their areas in whichever way they choose. Locally, the Master Gardner program, through local Agricultural Extension Services, can provide just the right atmosphere for a community to plant a garden, maintain its integrity, and harvest its produce.

Neighborhoods pull together and transform vacant lots into green space. Building tenants gather on rooftops to plant and grow vegetables. Everyone shares in the responsibility and the harvest. This is community gardening in its purest form. These community gardens are a great way to get both children and adults involved in beautifying the neighborhood while at the same time working with nature.

No matter which style suits your needs best, it can be effectively applied to organic gardening. Each gardening style requires some level of planning and site preparation. Once planting is complete, the actual work of gardening begins. Caring for the plants in your garden is very similar to caring for your pets. They need regular food and water. Their space needs to be cleaned or weeded regularly. And, the more attention you give them, the more they respond and produce.

The Use and Symbolism of Buddhas in Gardens

February 7th, 2021

Buddhas in Gardens

Statues and images of the Buddha have been placed in the grounds of temples and gardens since ancient times and gardening has strong associations with Buddhism:

It is believed that;

The Soil of the garden represents the fertile ground of Buddha’s Mind. A Sangha (Pali for Buddhist community) is the same as community of plants in the garden. Dhamma (teachings of the Buddha) is the expression of wisdom that is in the Temple – Garden.

If a garden can be regarded as a mind then:

Paths represent the ways to enlightenment. The soil represents the state of our own internal Karma. It’s planting represents fertile and blossoming ideas. The changing seasons represent of the changing moods of the mind. Eastern tradition also suggests that the Buddha should not face south, as this is associated with Yama, a Hindu god and judge of the dead. North is the preferred direction when placing Buddha statues in the garden.

Buddhist gardens

Pure Land Buddhism

The making of Buddhist gardens in Japan was inspired by Pure Land Buddhism movement which originally came from China. It has as its centre piece the Mandala showing the Buddha with a temple and a garden – it has inspired the making of gardens with equivalent symbolism.

Zen Buddhism

Zen Buddhism believes that by making a fine garden can contribute to enlightenment and contentment. This requires skill, artistic judgement and a deep understanding of nature combined with constant attention. So gardening can be a deemed a religious activity.

They should generally have:

A beautiful place for sitting quietly or for meditation.
Numerous Paths for the practice of walking meditation.
A lotus pool containing a Buddha statue.
A place for the feeding of fish, birds or animals.
Ten of the World’s Most Beautiful Buddhist Gardens

1. Totekiko Temple Gardens, Kyoto Japan

Totekiko is one of the five gardens at the Ryogen,Temple Kyoto, Japan. It was laid in 1958, and is said to be the smallest Japanese rock garden. It is a small enclosed garden, composed of attractive simple boulders placed on raked sand. These rocks are surrounded by concentric gravel circles and are connected by parallel ridges and furrows. The garden briefly receives the sun at around noon each day, and it is sometimes covered by snow in the winter. The garden represents a Zen saying, that the harder a stone is thrown in, the bigger the ripples will be.

The temple also includes three other gardens, Isshi-dan, Koda-tei, and Ryogin-tei – which is a moss covered garden which is claimed to be the oldest in Daitoku-ji.

2. Imperial War Museum Peace Garden, London UK

This beautiful and peaceful area is located in the park in front of the Imperial War Museum in Lambeth. The garden aims to encourage world peace and promote non violence. Its Tibetan name translates as “The Garden of Contemplation”. The design and decoration uses many Buddhist symbols. A tall pillar has in four languages the Dalai Lama’s message about the importance of choosing non-violence.

The garden’s layout is based on the eight spoke Buddhist Wheel representing the Noble Eightfold Path. There are eight stone seats in a circle representing the eight principles in the Noble Eightfold Path. When you sit here you can focus on the centre of the garden. Around the outside of the area is a trellis and plants from the Himalayas. This garden consciously represents the elements of Earth, Fire, Air and Water and the space is often visited by Tibetan Buddhist teachers when visiting London.

3. The Mahabodhi Temple Gardens, India

This temple is built at the actual place where the Buddha reached Enlightenment while sitting under the Bodhi Tree. Almost all activity at the Temple takes place in the large garden surrounding this huge stone spire. This is full of tall, shady trees and little lawns, monuments and marigolds. The holiest place at the Mahabodhi Temple is outdoors under a Bodhi Tree. This Bodhi Tree has been grown from cuttings from a series of earlier Bodhi Trees, which came from the original Bodhi Tree under which Buddha sat and meditated 2,500 years ago. Buddhists from all over the world come to visit this sacred spot

Some people come and sit near the Bodhi Tree on their own and some come in groups of Buddhist pilgrims from the same country. Throughout the Mahabodhi Temple garden you see people worshipping. The Bodhi Tree itself is where all Buddhist meditation began. All around the Mahabodhi Temple you see people practicing Walking Meditation – walking slowly along the paths which lead round the Temple garden always doing so in a clockwise direction.

On the east side of the Temple is a beautiful Meditation Park having many winding paths for walking meditation and little marble platforms, where people can sit and meditate. This garden is filled with the sounds from thousands of brown mynah birds. On the south side of the Mahabodhi Temple is a large, rectangular Lotus Pool. In the centre of the pool is a statue of Buddha. The Lotus Pool is full of large catfish.

4. Ryoan-ji Temple Gardens – The Temple of the Peaceful Dragon, Kyoto Japan

This is a Zen temple located in northwest Kyoto, Japan. The temple is one of the Historic Monuments of Kyoto and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring a dry landscape rock garden. The dry landscape rock garden was built in the late 13th Century. It consists of raked gravel and fifteen moss covered boulders placed so that, when looking at the garden from any angle only fourteen of the boulders are visible at one time.

5. Sigiriya Temple, Sri Lanka

This is a World Heritage Site and is sometimes said to have the oldest surviving garden in Asia. It was originally the garden of a residential palace later becoming the garden of a Mahayana Buddhist monastery. The present layout of Sigiriya is believed to date from in the 5th century AD.

6. Lumbini, India

This was the site of the Buddha’s birth. The site was re-discovered in 1896.The sacred pool had earth banks at the time of its re-discovery. It now has a paved margin and steps – but it remains a place of exceptional calm. The garden also includes a bathing tank of the Sakyas where the water is bright and clear as a mirror and its surface covered with a mixture of flowers. This is where the Bodhisattva was born. In 1997 it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

7. Kagyu Samyé Ling Monastery, Scotland

Kagyu Samyé Ling Monastery and Tibetan Centre is a Tibetan Buddhist complex located at Eskdalemuir, near Dumfries,Scotland. The Tara Healing Garden preserves and propagates medicinal herbs native to Tibet. The grounds feature a Garden of World Peace, an organic kitchen garden, with greenhouses a vinery, peach-house and a traditional herb garden (TaraHealingGarden) which preserves and propagates medicinal herbs native to Tibet. The garden is surrounded by woodland and arable land grazed by a herd of Yak.

8. Secret Buddha Garden, Ko Samui, Thailand

This beautiful spot on Ko Samui is one of the most important tourist attractions of Ko Samui. It was designed and built by a fruit farmer in 1976 called Nim Thongsuk, who was 77 when he started building the garden. This has also resulted in another name for the area – “Uncle Nimm’s Garden”. It is surrounded by jungles and rocky hills and is slightly difficult to find as it lies high on the mountain overlooking the island. The entire garden is filled with sculptures and statues depicting humans as well as various gods and Buddhas.

9. The Peace Pagoda and Peace Temple Gardens, Milton Keynes, UK

Founded by Nichidatsu Fujii, a Buddhist monk from Japan who worked with Gandhi on finding peaceful ways of opposing government’s wrongdoing. After the Second World War, he campaigned strongly against with nuclear weapons. He lived to be 100 and his movement built 80 Peace Pagodas and Peace Gardens all round the world. In the beautiful gardens surrounding the pagoda are a thousand cherry trees and cedars planted to remind us of the victims of all wars.

To left of the pagoda is a small Japanese garden of rocks, moss and bushes and a water lily pond full of carp and to the right of the Temple is a little moss garden. Behind the Temple is a typical Zen garden of rocks and gravel. Finally at the rear of the Zen garden is a stupa.

10. Wenshu Monastery Gardens, Chengdu, China

This Zen Buddhist monastery was built between 605 – 617 during the period of the Tang Dynasty and is the best-preserved temple in Chengdu. This Buddhist Temple is set within splendid landscaped gardens containing examples of religious Chinese architecture as well as a superb vegetarian restaurant.

The landscaped park within the Wenshu Monastery are very beautiful and serene and are beautifully maintained and clean and has many trees and shrubs as well as spectacular water features. The courtyards and gardens seem to melt into each other, making for a very quiet and contemplative environment.