Fixing a small drainage problem with an Ikebana flair.
The rather large yard is always well kept and immaculate, but there are lots of little areas that need ‘fixing.’ This week the main emphasis was an area where soil was washing across part of a driveway and into a catch basin. The ordinary thing to do would have been to plant a row of shrubbery—but Johntheplantman doesn’t do ordinary.
Here’s a picture of the problem. I had trouble with the shadows, but if you look hard, you will see the wash. The dirt on the drive is obvious:
A row of shrubbery had been taken out from this place and we decided that it was nice being able to look through the area and see down to the lake. I thought about it and decided that we should run the water through a dry river bed and use a couple of small berms made with compost to help maintain the watercourse. We dug the area out with a slight downward curve (or swale) and laid rock from the driveway up toward the grass. The bed ended with an outward curve that would gather and channel the water toward the dry river bed
Ikebana is a Japanese design style that works in groups of three. The style is usually employed in flower arrangement, but I have successfully applied it to bonsai, “so,” I thought, “why not use Ikebana principles on a larger basis?” Ikebana works with levels that represent “Heaven, Man, and Earth.” It also uses triangles to emphasize the levels.
I decided that a large, tree form ligustrum would serve well for the focal point of the creation. The height of the ligustrum would be the signifier for the “Heaven” level. A small, well pruned dwarf cryptomeria would be nestled in a curve on the other side of the watercourse and would signify the level for “Man,” and the dry riverbed would combine with the berms to signify the “Earth” level. To get proper detail, I have used two pictures of the finished project. We used pine straw as a mulch mainly for color and texture.
I decided to use pachysandra for a ground cover under the tree formed ligustrum. This plant will branch out and cover the area in a year or so. Pachysandra is a good ground cover to use for a partly shaded area. It blooms nicely in the late spring and spreads out to cover the soil rather rapidly once it is established. I like pachysandra because it covers without being invasive. If this plant gets out of bounds, it is easily maintained by pulling out the unwanted growth.
Another nice touch is the addition of three larger rocks to form an Ikebana within an Ikebana. This addition to the composition adds a smaller, almost meditative point of interest.
I will probably go back and put pea gravel in between the “river” rocks to enhance the effectiveness of the dry river bed. The problem should be solved.
If you would like a consultation with John Schulz, Landscape Artist, in your yard, Please contact me by email
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