The garden of Natalia Zhukova

 

The Japanese gardens in Russia

The area of the garden is 2 ares

The year of the beginning of its creation is 2002

Ive seen Natashas Japanese corner many times, moreover, Ive been watching its changes for several years. It is becoming more and more beautiful each year. The territory of the garden is 25 ares( 2500 square metres). Even though each part has its own style, it doesnt look like a combination of plants and buildings picked at random as each corner is separated from others by tall trees or thickets of bushes. All the parts are connected with the help of paths of the same type, landfillings and plants which are trimmed in a particular way. The garden could be compared with a novel consisting of several stories which have one common idea. No doubt, youve already guessed that my favourite part in Natashas garden is a Japanese one.

The garden of Natalia Zhukova

In spite of the small size, a Japanese corner is interesting because of its extraordinary history. Originally, it used to be a part of a forest with tall spruces and sparse undergrowth where there was a compost heap. Natasha planted a few junipers there and filled up the space between them with gravel to avoid weeding. The spirit of Japan must have already been there because some time later Natashas friends gave her a Japanese lantern. They were sure it would look nice in the garden. Besides, her husbands colleagues from Japan visited their house and they often talked about the far mysterious country. All that stimulated Natasha to think about making a Japanese garden.

However, it was hard to find any information about gardening at that time, so Natasha was looking for small pictures and sticking them down into an album. She also went to the Botanical gardens and asked for gardening magazines in libraries. Little by little she could imagine the picture of her Japanese nook. Soon Natasha bought a book A Japanese Garden by Elena Golosova that was the first step towards a more serious approach to creating a Japanese garden. The book helped realize some mistakes which had to be corrected later. Since that very moment Natasha has been absorbed in creation of a peaceful and quiet nook. She was completely taken with charm of Japanese gardens, especially when she could find a lot more information about them. Of course, a lot of things had to be done anew. Natasha said that she had learned to be reserved from the Japanese. She also learned to forbear from hasty planting as they owned a large territory and there was plenty of land. The Japanese garden was getting bigger. The corner with junipers and landfilling was replaced with a dry landscape and then a pond, which took the central place, appeared. Thus the image of the garden has dramatically changed.

The garden of Natalia Zhukova

As mentioned above, the composition center of Natashas Japanese garden is a pond. There is a gazebo which overhangs above the bank on one side and rhododendrons, mahonia and quite problematic small-leaved azaleas on the other side. All the plants even small Japanese maples feel unbelievably comfortable there. The point is, big trees protect from icy winds and hot sun, besides the pond makes the air humid enough to prepare delicate plants for a cold season. Two paths, paved with slab-stones, lead to the pond and the gazebo. Lets go for a virtual walk around the garden.

The garden of Natalia Zhukova

So we should go through the forest to get to the Japanese nook. There are long boughs of spruces, low hills with graceful bushes and sparse ground-covering plants, which could compete with roots of big trees and a winding stone path It seems to me there is nothing in front of us but suddenly we notice a tiny Japanese lantern between the trees, a part of the bamboo fence and a silhouette of a gazebo.

The garden of Natalia Zhukova

The garden of Natalia Zhukova

The garden of Natalia Zhukova

This pavilion is a sort of a Japanese waiting gazebo (soto-koshikake). However, its much more spacious. There is no long bench along the full length of the pavilion which is typical for the construction of this type. But there is a nice table where you can drink tea. An oriental light next to the entrance and one more lantern under the ceiling make this place very cozy in the evening. The poles for the remote roof are made from real tree trunks and roots.

The garden of Natalia Zhukova

Natashas summerhouse is something between a soto-koshikake and a tea chasitsu. The construction has been redone several times, but one thing has never been changed: it has always looked like a hut, a shelter for a tired traveler, who could have a rest, relax and even philosophize glancing at water.

The garden of Natalia Zhukova

The garden of Natalia Zhukova

Once Natasha noticed that the part of the garden looked dull, as a result, a pond was made. It is irregular-shaped and not very big (about 3 metres long and 4 metres wide). The bottom of the pond is pebbly while the banks are graveled. Lumps of serpentine are put along the edges of the pool. Some are almost completely under water, so one can see their tops only which remind about sunken rocks in the ocean. The Japanese lantern, that started the garden, is hardly seen in the thickets of mahonia on the opposite side.

The garden of Natalia Zhukova

Of course, the pond has made this part of the garden absolutely different. Numerous living creatures took residence there at once but thats not the point. The fact is that the picture is continually changing. Every time I come up to the pond it makes a new impression on me. On sunny days you can enjoy watching a play of light on wet rocks, fast-sliding colourful fish or dragonflies flitting above water.

The garden of Natalia Zhukova

The garden of Natalia Zhukova

At dusk the fog brings back the pictures of Japanese hot springs-onsens. Stars are reflected in the pond at night. If you switch on the lights, the pool will look like an underwater cave with sea creatures.

The garden of Natalia Zhukova

Its pleasant to be here during the rain watching bathing rocks.

The garden of Natalia Zhukova

In winter the pond is unimaginably amazing. Falling needles make incredible patterns and, when frozen into ice, paint it unbelievably beautiful orange hues.

The garden of Natalia Zhukova

The garden of Natalia Zhukova

Having enjoyed the view and gathered strength, we make our way towards the exit. This time the path leads us along the bank so that we can see the other side of the pond. Then it turns round a juniper which isnt to be seen at the enormous rock covered with lichen. Soon the Japanese garden is left behind the green screen of tall shrubs. We leave that place and feel as if weve woken up after an unusual dream.

The garden of Natalia Zhukova

The garden of Natalia Zhukova

Natasha says that, unlike the Japanese, she wont look at a stone and imagine it to be a mountain. Thats why she doesnt think her garden is a suitable place for philosophical contemplation. However, she admits that she can watch a bird landing on a big rock. Actually, the object isnt the most important in the process of meditation. Your thoughts, feelings and a state of mind are of great importance. Natasha describes her Japanese corner as a place where the atmosphere is calm and relaxed and life is really different. Isnt it the very effect that the creators of Japanese gardens tried to achieve? Doesnt our virtual journey look like the road leading to the place of tea ceremony? We can replace tea with coffee and a roll with a saying with a camomile, nothing will change as other things make sense. According to one master of tea ceremony, it reveals a clear heart, it doesnt in the least show the accurate performance of the ceremony itself. (N Nikolaeva Japanese Gardens). So I have every reason to believe that Natasha Zhukovas garden is a Japanese one.

The garden of Natalia Zhukova

The Japanese gardens in Russia

Photo: Natalia Zhukova

Text: Irina Andrianova

 

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