Sunday, September 02, 2007

Putnam's Garden in Late Summer

It was during the Great Virgo Birthday Party
last week
(all of my male friends were born at the end of August)
that I realized that Mr. Putnam is a garden maniac,
well... so is Mrs. Putnam,
but himself takes it a few steps beyond
where enthusiasm dares to venture.

For example,
this year he planted 60 trees,
though, since he likes miniatures,
none of them will ever grow more than 18" high, if that.

.. and then he will spend a hour pruning each tree,
or, maybe just a few branches on that tree,
or maybe just one side side of one branch

There is, of course,
also an aquatic side to this madness

and some unusual garden sculpture

but mostly its about the contrast of textures

Here is one of those 60 new trees.
The roots are pot-bound,
so it's going to get much bigger

There's also some traditional Japanese rock gardens,
scattered thoughtfully
in various remote corners

and places appropriate for water meditation
(especially if you're the size of a grasshopper)

The rock on the right is a fountain,
believe it or not

For some reason,
the plantings at the front of the house are on a larger,
more magnificent scale

Oriental gardens,
like the one in "Dream of Red Chamber"
like to re-create an entire,
miniature world,
with mountains, rivers, lakes etc.

What I'd really like to see
are train tracks, suspension bridges,
and train stations,
but Mr. Putnam says
these features are too modern for him

As soon as I was finished shooting,
and chatting on various topics,
the setting sun broke through the trees,
providing an entirely new light,
so I had to start all over again.

The closer .. the better

Mr. Putnam insisted on shooting these branches,
as examples of "Chinese cloud formations"

One of the goals of the miniature gardener,
is to have little tree with big trunks,
and then to trim those trees
so that fellow aesthetes can
see them.

(note: I've got about 50 more pictures,
but I'm going to wait until mid-winter to post them.
That's when the memory of this late Summer greenery
will really be enjoyable)


Anonymous John Putnam said...

Chris is a wonderful documentarian and biographer but I must correct a few statements. I only have 50 trees and I started this part of our garden about 10 years ago (maybe a little more) with a few trees in a pile of rocks that were there. I had killed so many Bonsai trees through the years by having the harsh winters take them that I decided to have the trees stay outdoors and pick only varieties that have a chance in the Chicago climate zone. The project spread, as projects are want to do, into a waterfall, stream and pond. Then the diggings from the pond started another wonderful hill. I just added another smaller hill to house my most recent aquisitions, a dwarf elm and a Kingsville boxwood. My collection includes several types of boxwoods, mugo pine (regular and dwarf), hemlock (regular and dwarf), alberta spruce (regular and dwarf), spirea, several azalias, natural bonai taken from northern minesota, a tom thumb coteneaster, false cypress's, birds nest yews, various other yews juipers and other evergreen varieties, several elms, and some purple bamboo to round things out.

The space which was between our house and the next where a driveway would have been and turning it into something entirely different. We are on the corner so our garage has direct access to the street so the garden was born. The waterfall started when our neighbor threw out a pile of rock that used to be her fireplace. It became the waterfall and stream. I have thick stone slabs that cross the stream and a slightly meandering path to it.

One of the goals of this type of garden is to provide different views that are hidden until revealed as you move through. We have a few plants that provide masking of other parts as you go through. The pond wraps around one of them so you never can see the whole pond at once. It is small but this trick makes it seem much larger. The goal is to make the small space seem large by pulling you into it visually, small trees that suggest large old trees, mounds and vegitation that suggest mountains and forests. I have some other rocks that are behind with white sand to suggest distant mountains pushing through the clouds. These things should be felt somewhere inside and bring that contentment you feel standing looking at mountains with old trees weathered and wise. The time when you stop thinking and just look and feel.

I'm just about out of room for any new trees. The ones I have been in place 10 years to the new ones this year. I build pots into the ground out of bricks to constrain the roots, so they truely are bonsai. The newer ones I leave alone for a few years to establish, then wire training if warrented for a few years and pruning for those and the older trees.

It is interesting to see how some people come into this part of the garden and just pass through without noticing anything, others when shown, say "Oh thats nice" One, a student of landscaping even said what are those rocks back there, obviously her landscaping curiculum did not study oriental gardens. But the ones the look down and get captured by the garden seem to have some meditation in their souls already. Several people have come back again just for the garden. It's nice to share that.

I thank Chris for looking, and having the desire to document some of the views for his blog.

---John Putnam

September 03, 2007  
Anonymous Amanda J. Sisk said...

Is that a late narcissus in your sixth image? It is a good time to wander gardens now...with that delicious hint of autumn in the air. I wouldn't mind another meander in winter - good idea.

September 03, 2007  
Anonymous kristin krimmel said...

Stunning pictures. Really beautiful! Putnam's garden is really peaceful, meditative - at least that's what your artist's eye has caught.
Both the with and without sunlight pictures are beautiful.

September 04, 2007  
Blogger Robert said...

We are very jealous of such a garden, thanks for the visit.

September 04, 2007  
Blogger Lori Witzel said...

OMG! Still at work (good gosh) but I feel so much more energized and peace-filled by walking the garden through your eyes.

I can see the sculptor's eye for mass and texture in your captures. Will read John's exegisis after I get home (assuming I don't fall out first.)

September 05, 2007  
Blogger John said...


My wife tells me that is a white anenome.

September 10, 2007  
Blogger marlyat2 said...

Hello, Chris--

School has started, so I'm back.

I'm going to order some of those Japanese anemones. I have a great desire to convert the back yard into a garden, but Hanna the lab works against me. This is a delicious, idiosyncratic garden. I'd love to see it.

It would be very interesting to see what you would do with "garden railroading." It seems to be a very popular pursuit. I can think of one such garden just a couple of blocks away from me. You could get John Putnam to help you miniaturize the world....

September 11, 2007  
Blogger chris miller said...

Marly, I'm so glad you're back !
(in this blog's imaginary ideal audience -- you're in the middle of the first row -- though, come to think of it -- so is everyone else who's commented so far)

I'm into model railroads (or at least, fantasizing about them) because that was yet another one of my father's out-of-control projects -- he filled the entire attic with this miniature world -- and sad was the day when it got taken down.

September 12, 2007  
Blogger marlyat2 said...

Well, I am back, though struggling still with too much to do. There's something about the current collection of child ages--18, 15-almost-16, and 10--that has racheted up the level of busy-ness. I guess that's it. And I've got a backlog of commissioned stories. Etc. In fact, I am still firmly "behind" in my own work.

So I may not be here quite as often during this school year as the last, but I will always be here with just as much curiosity!

It would be delightful to sit in a front row seat with John and Amanda and Robert and Lori--no doubt with Kristin, too. She has materialized in my absence, I see.

September 15, 2007  

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