Dandy Farmer Logbook

How to Sit on a Rock

Having worked with gardeners in Japan before, it was no surprise to hear our bonsai teacher's response when asked about the first thing in caring for bonsai. "Watering," he said, and then quickly followed with "Ishi no ue nimo san nen" (石の上にも三年), a phrase that means to warm a rock by sitting on it for three years. It refers to the patience and perseverance that is needed to eventually overcome any challenge. But could learning to water really take three years to master?! Our young teacher brings us over to the watering basin, a large glazed pot next to a faucet, and hands us the copper watering can balanced on its edge. It's called a jyōro and reminds me of a kettle with a...

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Our Story Begins with an Acorn Sized Garden

  One morning while apprenticing in Tokyo, my teacher Kenji walked me through the scene of his latest creation. He led me along a path through the village and past the edge of rice fields to where the farmed valley met a tender forest. We rested in the cool shade of a Japanese maple, under winding branches that reached for the sun. As time began to slow, I felt unencumbered and transported. He stopped for a moment while I stepped back to break my reverie and survey the scene. Held in the palm of my hand, a miniature potted garden. Each step along our journey could be traced in those tiny spaces. The hill, a mound of moss; the path, a sandy bar; and the arching maple tree no bigger than my outstretched palm....

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