The garden of Tatjana Matroussova

 

The Japanese gardens in Russia

The area of the garden is 1 are

The year of the beginning of its creation is 2000

My friend Tatyana Nikolaevna and her grandson Maxim, who was only 5 at that time, visited me a few years ago. While we were in the garden, I was surprised to see Maxim walk along the path stepping stones exclusively. He didnt even touch a branch or a flower, let alone hurt them. Then he started looking for the best views to take photos. Although he was really absorbed into it, he was moving as if he felt the right place to stand. I glanced at Tatyana Nikolaevna suggesting that she could give her grandchild some signals, but my guest was absolutely relaxed and focused on our conversation. Finally I realized that love and respect for a Japanese garden are in the boys blood.

Tatyana Nikolaevna, an expert in Japan, used to go to that country every 2-3 years and she spent for about 6 months there. She used to stay in a student town near Rokuonji (a group of monasteries in North Kyoto, including famous Kinkakuji and Ryoan-ji). Tatyana Nikolaevna often visited the gardens there and no doubt she couldnt help admiring them. The enormous gardens of Sugakuin and Katsura impressed her the most, even though the restoration works at some of the gardens such as Saiho-ji hadnt been finished yet. In spite of their extraordinary beauty, those gardens looked strange. It was difficult to imagine a garden like this somewhere in Russia. But as soon as Tatyana Nikolaevna discovered Ogawa Jihei gardens, she changed her mind. The first garden by that famous landscape architect (the end of 19th beginning of 20th century) was quite a small one attached to Tokyo International palace of Culture. Its size suggested the idea of creating a similar garden in our country where it wouldnt seem strange. Starting with that moment she concentrated on studying Ogawa gardens and also got interested in little private gardens visiting them as far as possible.

Kokusai bunka kaikan

Kokusai bunka kaikan

Kokusai bunka kaikan

One day, when Tatyana Nikolaevna was on a business trip in Osaka, an unusual thing happened to her. Three young Russian men, who wanted to thank her for help, invited the woman to visit a Japanese millionaire. That man owned one of the biggest shops in Tokyo and his house was situated in Kadzuho on the way from Osaka to Kyoto. The owner of that house liked the idea of a Russian woman visiting his house despite the fact that he wasnt in town at that moment. He phoned several times and apologized for not being able to come and see the dear guest. The servants treated her as a queen. Later she found out the reason of such a warm welcome. Many years ago that Japanese man was taken prisoner by Soviet soldiers. Unlike Japanese officers, they didnt beat or humiliate him. Moreover, the young man was a sort of a batman and his Russian commander gave the man more food, thus helping him survive. Just then the millionaire to be, in accordance with his Confucian views, swore that if he could stay alive, any Russian would get everything he would be able to give them. Thats why Tatyana Nikolaevna didnt only stay in the millionaires house but also visited his wonderful garden with a tea house where an unforgettable tea ceremony was organized for her.

Later she had an opportunity to see other private gardens. Those visits made her think that the little gardens, which almost all Ogawas work was devoted to, could be the most suitable model for Russia. Careful study of the architects greatest works helped Tatyana Nikolaevna understand what she would like to see on her piece of land. That was the process of accumulating some material and images. She was craving for making her own Japanese garden.

Tatyana Nikolaevna had her own land which suffered from fire in2000. The garden had to be restored almost from scratch. By that time Tatyana Nikolaevna had already made up her mind about the Japanese corner in her garden hidden from strangers and designed for her and her nearest and dearest. This place was planned to be separated from other parts of the garden by bushes and trees.

The garden of Tatjana Matroussova

She could picture her garden and because of its small size, she didnt have to prepare a detailed plan. Tatyana Nikolaevna wanted it to be a tiny island surrounded by water, banks covered with plants and a path leading from the entrance to the other end of the garden. At the same time a grotto was being built a few metres away. All the soil was used to make hills. During the process some changes were made, which led to better results.

The garden of Tatjana Matroussova

When the hills were ready, they started setting up the stones and that was the hardest part. First the stones looked different from the desired ones. Secondly the workers couldnt find the right places for the stones, although the places for the most important rocks were picked very quickly. In my opinion, the stone which looks like a head of a turtle swimming in the sea is put in the most appropriate place.

The garden of Tatjana Matroussova

Next they started planting trees and bushes. The plum tree, which Tatyana Nikolaevna trims in a peculiar way, takes the central place on the island. The tree was chosen a bit crooked and planted at a particular angle. One of the branches had to be tied for some time to put it in the right position. The tree didnt even blossom because of it but it turned out to be exceptionally flexible and could be trimmed twice a season. Taking into account that plum trees dont live for long, Tatyana Nikolaevna planted Pinus mugo not far from it. So by the time the plum tree has become a thing of the past there will have been a new soloist. The island has a carpet of sedum which gets covered with white flowers in early summer. The sedum can also be found along the banks.

The garden of Tatjana Matroussova

The Japanese corner is located in the lowest part of the garden so the water-resistant plants such as hydrangea, ferns and aruncuses feel great there. For the same reason a dry stream around the island can keep water for some time and becomes wet after heavy rains. Tatyana Nikolaevnas grandchildren enjoy these moments as they are allowed to splash barefoot through the puddles, even though they usually try to walk on stones.

The garden of Tatjana Matroussova

In my introductory article I considered Tatyana Nikolaevnas garden to be of tsuboniwa type. On one hand, its correct as there is either a fence or thickets of bushes around the garden. The guests, walking along the path, cant even suggest what is hidden behind philadelphuses, despite the small size of the whole garden. On the other hand, one could say tsubo is a part of a house. Tatyana Nikolaevnas Japanese corner is not connected with the house as it is situated in the farthest part of the garden. But tsuboniwa is a place where a person can relax and do whatever they want not thinking about what others might say. From this point of view the Japanese corner is a real tsubo. Describing her garden Tatyana Nikolaevna said: Its a temple! Not all can enter it. I dont want strangers to see itwalking there is not permitted. This garden looks exactly like an authentic Japanese garden of a special type where people dont just walk but contemplate.

Look at the pictures. Its really a very cozy place where you can admire blooming irises in spring, fast-flowing water in dry streams or scrutinize the surface of stones trying to catch some unexpected shapes.

The garden of Tatjana Matroussova

The garden of Tatjana Matroussova

I believe a wooden bench, hidden in a secluded corner and covered with moth, plays a part of home. Its the place where you can contemplate and the place where the path leads.

The garden of Tatjana Matroussova

In 2014 the garden of Tatyana Nikolayevna has been changed. She decided to place the composition of the three stones called Sanzon-Seki on the central island. This Buddhist stone triad is a reflection of three hypostasis of Buddha. Typically, a central figure (a stone) should be bigger than the other two.

In addition, at the entrance to the garden we can see now a rather unusual lantern. It has an interesting shape. These lanterns in the style of yama-doro can be found in ancient Japanese gardens. They are made of pieces of rough stone taken from the nearest mountains. These lanterns often look a bit clumsy, but they have a special charm due to its natural shape and they fit well with the Japanese garden.

The garden of Tatjana Matroussova

Another detail appeared in the garden of Tatiana Nikolaevna recently. It is the fence called sode-gaki, literally fence-sleeve. The shape of this screen is similar to the sleeve of a kimono. Sode-gaki also can be transleted as "something that is on the side". Such fences are usually placed on the side of the entrance to the house in the Japanese garden.

The garden of Tatjana Matroussova

In conclusion Id like to quote Tatyana Nikolaevna. This garden is my life. If it were lost, I would sell the house.

The Japanese gardens in Russia

Photo: Tatjana Matroussova

Text: Irina Andrianova

 

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