Sunday, August 17, 2008

in which we take a road trip to visit the Seattle Arboretum and sit in traffic for 90 minutes

What the hell was going on in the Emerald City today? It is Sunday, for Christ's sake (literally), and traffic through Seattle was as bad as it was during rush hour on weekdays. Seriously. It took use just as long to drive the three miles from exit 164 to 167 (downtown Seattle) as it did to drive the 31 miles from exit 133 (Tacoma) to exit 164. 

We ventured north to visit the Japanese Garden in the Arboretum. Unlike most other gardens within the Seattle Park system, this one does charge admission but it is quite lovely. I'd brought my camera to take lots of pictures to share but forgot to recharge the batteries. There was just enough juice in the batteries for the camera to give me a message to recharge the batteries before dying. For the curious, there are some pics on the garden's website

My newest obsession is Japanese gardens, so I'm trying to learn as much about them as I can. I have this great plan to landscape the front yard in the Japanese style using as many native plants as possible. (So the next visit is to the Kubota Garden, which was a private garden in Seattle done in the Japanese style but using native plants. I figure if it's a native plant, I have less chance of killing it. My brother teases me that I have a gangrene thumb, and he's not too far off the mark.)

Of course, the type of garden we visited today is not the kind of garden we could install at our house but it was very lovely and the koi were more than happy to splash around, showing off their lovely colors in exchange for koi food. (These koi are well trained to respond to people. All you have to do is stand on the bridge, and even if you don't toss anything in the water,  the koi will still approach from all areas of the pond.) I don't know how large koi can get but there were a few that were about two feet long. One of the bigger ones was completely gold, except for a round dark blue dot on the back of his head. There were many that were patterned in variation of white/gold/orange but also several that were dark blue/orange/white. And one that was just a most mundane mud grey but it was the largest koi I have ever seen. 

Unfortunately, the teahouse was closed so we couldn't visit that. It's separated from the rest of the garden by a living fence of some sort of shrub pruned so that it's just a few inches wide. It actually made a great fence, but I don't know how much of that was due to the characteristics of the shrub and how much to pruning. That is, I am pretty sure that the "faces" of the fence were trimmed but I don't know how much of the interior branches were pruned to keep it from being a solid mass of vegetation. Anyway, I didn't want to get tea so much as examine the garden surrounding the teahouse, because that's about the scale that our front yard would be.     

Still lots to learn, and next time I'll make sure that the camera has working batteries. 

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