I grew up in the countryside in Nagano, where there were always banks along the ro
ad. Even in a small area, the
greenery is connected all the way. Continuous soil is very important. Good soil is full of fungi. We talk about
green, green, green, but according to an assistant professor at Hokkaido University, good soil has the power to
pu rify the air three times more than green. I once walked through a field surrounded by residential areas in
winter, when there were no crops and the soil was bare, and I thought, The air is completely different here, and
the living soil has such a positive effect.effect.” You can see how important it is to leave the soil in the garden, rather
than covering it all with concrete.
In a wooded area, where there is a continuous supply of organic matter from the annual accumulation of fallen
leaves, it is possible to maintain a "living soil", an "organic soil" where many organisms can live. In the past,
farmers owned wooded areas in order to use the fallen leaves as organic fertiliser. On the other hand, soil that has
been continuously treated with chemical fertilisers and disinfectants becomes "deserted soil" as the living
organisms in the soil die out. It loses its function as soil and ceases to be organic soil. This fact has become so
organisms in the soil die out. It loses its function as soil and ceases to be organic soil. This fact has become so widespread that organic farming has become the focus of attention.widespread that organic farming has become the focus of attention.
So what can we
do? I believe that the way to bring the soil back to life is to recreate the 'woodland cycle' in our
gardens. We can bring the cycle of nature back to our gardens. A thicket does not need to be watered, fertilised or
cultivated, but it will continue to thr ive. Its own branches and leaves cover the surface of the ground and form
humus, which keeps the organic matter circulating. The topsoil is sheltered from light and weeds cannot grow. It
is inhabited by many living things, who cultivate it and make it fert ile and fluffy. In a garden with a natural cycle,
fallen leaves and branches are not thrown away, but reclaimed as humus and spread on the surface of the soil. It is
important to spread them on the surface of the soil, not to mix them in.
There are many
people who study gardening abroad, but I think it would be better to focus more on Japanese
gardens and native Japanese species. A close observation of the garden design from the Edo period shows that it
was created with a good use of straight and curved lines. There are many western style houses nowadays, but it is
possible to create a western style garden with Japanese materials. You don't have to be concerned about Japanese
style or Western style. It is important to design a garden that suits the place.
If you use plants imported from abroad, they may not suit the local climate in Japan and die. The way the
craftsmen handle and plant the plants can also cause them to wither. Japanese native species are more adapted to
the local climate and less likely t o die. Why don't we use these plants when they are so good? I wonder. We have a
responsibility to think about the maintenance and sustainability of the plants, not just "if it dies, we can replant it"
or "we plant it and hand it over and that's it". Whenev er we use a plant that we have never used before, we get a
few seedlings and plant them on our land to experiment. For example, when we first started using sesame trees,
which are commonly used in Kyushu and Okinawa, we planted them on land where the minim um temperature is
minus 5 degrees Celsius to see how they would do. We expected that the trees would die, but it turned out that
some of them grew very well in the cold weather.
You can't have a good garden without a very detailed plan. I can tell from
experience whether a garden will be
good or not by looking at the plans. That's how important it is to have a plan. We can't see the garden from the
sky like a bird, so the most important thing when constructing a garden, no matter how big or small, is the
balance of the plan.
It is the job of the craftsman to turn a mere plan into a three
dimensional drawing. On site, the actual object and
its original size can be used to judge everything. It is the craftsman's ability to see the plans and the site with h is
own eyes that allows him to design the three dimensional form. It all comes down to the balance of the floor plan.
However, no matter how precise the drawings are, without the effort and sense of the craftsmen on site, the
finished product will not be a s good or better than the designer envisaged. This was one of my biggest problems
when I was working as a designer for a company. I want it to be as good as, or better than, I designed it to be! The
only way to achieve this was to do everything myself, fro m design to construction. This is what drove me to quit
my job and start my own business.
Experience and individuality come into play when designing. You have to be able to overcome various problems
such as cost and site conditions, but without individual ity it is boring. You have to keep trying new things, and
that's what I do. lol It's boring to think that "it's a small garden, so it's fine like this". We will continue to propose
new things, using the knowledge and know how we have developed.
Chairman and gardener Yoshiji Hayashi