What’s this insect? Look carefully and you’ll see it’s a moth relative.
When it first emerges, its transparent wings are covered in white scales, but these fall off and turn transparent every time it flaps its wings. Its colorful look is to allow it to mimic other creatures and avoid being eaten by natural enemies. It can also fly at incredibly high speeds, flapping its wings over 70 times in a single second. Thanks to this wing flapping, it is able to stop in midair and suck the nectar from flowers.
Murin-an’s garden path has many little pebbles laid over it to allow our visitors to walk through the garden. The crushed gravel, known as biri (or “rip”) stone in Japanese, is said to derive its name from the tearing sound it makes when walked upon.
Because more foot traffic leads to the biri stones straying outside the garden path, we use hand whisks to sweep them back toward the center. Carefully sweeping both sides of the garden path, we pave the ground by using the tips of the bamboo whisk to stroke areas where little pebble hills have developed.
We remove pebbles on both sides of the path to keep them as much as possible from moving off the path and to create a passage for rainwater when it rains. If pebbles get into the gaps in the moss, the moss will gradually stop growing.
So maintaining the garden path by attentively sweeping the biri stones is an important task for garden management. Biri stones can easily end up clumping together on sloped sections of the garden path, so we also collect and remove any stones that have accumulated.
When you walk on Murin-an’s garden path, try walking along slowly and affectionately as you enjoy the sounds of your feet walking on the gravel.
On September 26 (Thurs.), we held a kimono wearing lesson on the second floor of the main house. Our instructor discussed the colors and patterns for autumn and concluded by displaying actual kimonos. Our participants enjoyed the lesson as they drank match tea.
Our next kimono lessons are on October 2 (Wed.) and 16 (Wed.)!
There are several meadowhawk species that fly around and stop in Murin-an’s garden. Recently, we saw several Sympetrum darwinianum (a meadowhawk species) males that have taken a liking to the area around the tea house. When other males flew by here, these ones chased them away to protect their territory. A little further down the garden path, those other males had secured a favorite area of their own.
Pruning Trees on Murin-an’s Outer Edge (continued)
As we reported on September 24 (Tues.), there are lots of trees on Murin-an’s outer edge to prune, and so once again our gardener pruned the ring-cupped oaks. “Today, we’re going to be pruning around the three-stage waterfall,” he told us. When we came back to the same spot a little while later, the northern side of the water-crossing stones had been transformed into a bright space.
Ring-cupped oaks have thick foliage that can block light from reaching the forest when overgrown. Because we prune to let not only light but also wind to pass through, the branches and leaves can now be clearly seen. Our gardener checked the balance with neighboring trees from the spaces in the oak tree and ended his work for the day.
On September 25 (Wed.), we held a mini-lecture in the 8-tatami mat space of the main house’s first floor on the Malaysian Hawk-cuckoo. Because this wild bird is a relative of the cuckoo, it fledges its chicks from the nest through brood parasitism (laying eggs in other wild birds’ nests and having them rear one’s chicks). We discussed how adult birds of this species mimic raptors, instinctively exclude eggs and chicks from theirs nests from the time they hatch, and how they skillfully manage to get fed by the parents who raise them even after they grow a little larger. Our participants at this mini-lecture were very interested to hear how these acts of chick deception continue even after these birds leave the nest.
The quinces growing in bushy clumps on Murin-an’s lawn now have large fruits growing on them. Yet these fruits were born from the flowers that bloomed in early summer. While there aren’t as many as in early summer, this plant also blooms flowers in autumn. While taking a random glance at them, we noticed that one of them is blooming now. This flower is blooming close to the ground, so take a little closer look at your feet as you walking around the lawn’s garden path. The vermilion colored petals mark the scene.
“Feels like the temperature’s going to go way up this afternoon,” said our gardener one day in September, as he pruned a ring-cupped oak whose overgrown foliage was starting to stand out. More pruning was necessary than expected, resulting in a tremendous number of branches being cut. Our gardener carried away these branches as he looked carefully at the balance between the tree and its surroundings.
Blades of grass that were lush green in the summertime are now slowly starting to turn brown. We mowed Murin-an’s lawn so its blades were an even height and then used a blower and whisk broom to thoroughly remove any grass blades from the stepping stones and garden path. For hours after we opened, the fresh scent of the lawn on the wind could be smelt even from inside the main house.
On the afternoon of September 21 (Sat.), Ueyakato Landscape’s president Tomoki Kato gave a seminar lecture on the history of Japanese gardens. He reviewed points from his last lecture and used a screen presentation to explain the evolution of the garden through being a symbol of power to imperial court gardens and gardens featuring shoin-zukuri architecture.
Our next lecture, “The History of Japanese Gardens,” No.4, will cover the age of Kobori Enshu, and will focus on Konchi-in and the garden in front of the abbot’s quarters at Nanzen-ji Temple.
*Participation for this seminar is currently full. We ask those wishing to attend to understand that there is a waiting list for this event.