Monday, January 24, 2022

Less Is More In A Zen Garden

A view of the raking garden with the meandering river bed.

Zen garden or Japanese rock garden is a “dry landscape,” used by ancient Buddhist monks as a tool for meditation. Barbara Parisi, a Marco Island resident, loves the philosophy, the simplicity and contemplative elements of a Zen garden.

When Barbara and her husband, Joe moved to Marco in 2011, she wanted to install a Zen garden. Barbara has always been interested in Asian landscaping, having taken courses in Chinese ink drawings. She considered her 110 feet by 55 feet backyard a “waste in grass and it never looked right.”

Hurricane Irma took down seven royal palms and a mature ficus trees from her backyard. Barbara had done her research and had a plan all drawn up.

With the collaborative help from her husband Joe, landscaper Eileen Ward and consultant Eric Walton – Barbara was set to go Zen!

Barbara’s lucky number was 13, so she decided on 13 ledge rocks to represent the mountains in the garden. She settled on ledge rocks for their texture, colors, shapes and their calming effects on the landscape. Superior Stones of Naples delivered ten tons of 13 ledge rocks now symbolically arranged around the garden.

Barbara also designed the raking garden to be 20 feet by 52 feet with three large ledge rocks. It took 3½ inches of rice rocks for a total of 11 tons to cover the raking garden. Gravel is raked into rippled patterns representing the sea. For Barbara, it takes 45 minutes of ZEN to complete her raking ritual.

Barbara and Eileen Ward designed the flow of the dry riverbed as it meanders around the raking garden and ending up pooling around an island of sansevierias.

Ten tons of brook stone river rocks were placed to represent the flow of water. Cacti and succulents from the lanai and side garden formed the forest complemented by the miniature bonsai avocado and fig tree.

Thirty tons of brown river gravel provided two inches of ground cover chosen for their coloration as provided continuity from the lanai area.

A traditional red Shinto gate from salvage pieces was built by Eric Walton. The imperial red six-foot little bridge conveys a sense of distance. Three petrified trunks of strangler figs form the right black wall surrounded with a grouping of birds of paradise.

A statue of Shiva and Ganesha contribute to an array of Asian iconography. A kitty Buddha and little frog Buddha gifted from friends add special meaning. The Pagoda fountain installed by Island Garden Center, represents the only water element in the garden. Twenty-four solar lights awaken the Zen garden at night.

For Barbara and Joe, the garden duplicates something that they both love which is Asian landscape and it is easy to maintain.


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