|Mask Fountain, Villa Lante|
A trickle of water can take you back to a courtyard in an Italian garden you once visited, or for me, a rivulet of water in an alpine meadow filled with wildflowers. A well designed path makes you aware of your footsteps perhaps like skipping across a stream on stones. The smell of lilacs takes us back to our childhood, maybe even to your Grandparent's garden. The smell of petunias does that for me. My grandfather filled old washing machine tubs with them. I have 3 of those tubs in my garden to remind me of him.
|A stream in the Goat Rocks Wilderness, Washington State|
|My Cousin's daughter July is a Muse in my garden|
My garden is filled with triggers to memories of travel. Being extravagant, I built a version of a Maharaja's harem from a palace in India in my back yard to transport me back to the country I was once obsessed with and returned to 6 times. It is also a sacred grotto where the well spring of life emerges from a holy mountain. I use an image of a painting by the artist Nicolas Poussin that I saw in the Prado Museum in Madrid in my lecture on the Pleasure Garden to tell the story of the sacred grotto on Mount Parnassas in Greek Mythology. In the painting, the Sun God Apollo offers a chalice filled with the Nectar of Immortality to the poet Homer, surrounded by other divine figures and Nymphs and the Muses of the arts, music, and poetry. Through intention I have created a sanctuary to reside within that conciously draws me in to the world of the divine. I need this sanctuary to cope with the vageries of the man made environments of America. Parking lots and freeways make me sad. The Earth is sacred and should be treated as such.
|Nicolas Poussin's Painting on Mt. Parnassus in the Museo del Prado, Madrid|
My travels are manifested in design throughout my garden. The colors I painted my houses remind me of temples in Nepal and Thailand. A rattlesnake mosaic path between my houses has numerous allusions. They remind me of Precolombian carvings on Mayan temples in Mexico, and of encounters with live snakes I have had in the desert (I love them). It is a symbol of strength, the shedding of skin an renewal, and protection for my home. The staircases in the temples of the Angkor civilization were always flanked by 7 headed cobras, called Nagas, which repelled energy that is not divine from entering.
|Western Rattlesnake Path in my Garden|
Creating pebble mosaics allows me to be pictorial when I represent symbolic ideas. I remember the places I gathered the pebbles and am transported back to the beaches and streams I collected them on. The entrance to my garden is a mosaic of a pair of eyes, mine actually, watching over the entrance. All who pass over it are being watched by me. It is like a symbolic security system, far more appealing than paying money to install an alarm system. Nobody has broken in so far. The eyes are styled after those painted on stupas in Nepal with a third eye set in the forehead, representing a connection to higher conciousness. The third eye is an ammonite fossil I found in the Kali Gandaki river, the deepest river valley in the World. I think of Nepal when I walk over it, and the idea that I should be mindful and even transcendent is brought to forefront. Above the mosaic is a steel arch, which was modeled after stone arches in the Meherangahr Fort in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India, a place I spent a lot of time and hold dear to my heart. It was the source of many of the carved sandstone pieces built in to the wall in my grotto, which were salvaged from demolished buildings.
When building a fire pit in the garden of Dan Hinkley at Windcliff in Indianola, Washington, I used a totemic image of a Giant Pacific Octopus. Dan had been inspired by a Council Ring at Martha Stewart's home Skylands in Maine. This was the former estate of Edsel Ford. Jen Jensen, a highly influencial landscape architect from the midwest designed many gardens for the Ford family and frequently created places for people to gather around a fire with a curved round seating area, which were called Council Rings. One of these had been designed for Skylands but never installed, so Martha had one built in cut granite. The one that I built for Dan and Robert at Windcliff is a similar form, but with influences from Northwest Coastal Indian culture with Hindu cosmic orientations. I built the ring so that you enter from the east, the direction of the rising sun. Straight ahead is Mt. Olympus, the tallest mountain in the Olympic Mountain range, so there is the divine link to this holy mountain in Greece. The Octopus's body is the fire pit itself. The 8 arms point in the cardinal directions like a compass, as the Sound below the property is a major shipping canal. I gathered all of the stone from the beach below the property to create a link to the sea. The colors in the mosaic change with the directions in the circle to relate to the seasons and the cycle of the year. There are lines in the mosaic that mark the position of the sun during the summer solstice so when the Earth makes a full circumambulation of the sun it will line up with those markings at sunrise, noon, and sunset every year on the longest day. Many holy sites all over the World are aligned for this sacred moment. The Incas had a pillar they would tie a mythical lasso to for catching the sun and pulling it back the other way.
|Council Ring, Windcliff, Indianola, Washington|
Another mosaic that I built for a client who grew up in Hawaii was designed to remind her of moonlight shining on the sea, which in Hawaiian is called an Ala Moana. When it was finished we were standing there in the dark, and the porch light on the guest house was shining across the pebbles. She gasped and said "Its an Ala Moana!" as the light cast a line across the ripple of the stones.
|Miro Parking Strip Mosaic|