John Muir said, “When I go outside, I am really going in.” I discovered this to be true when I began backpacking as a kid. I found in nature something transcendent, elegant, simple and clear that I found nowhere else.  As an adult, I continued backpacking and rock climbing. I had the good fortune to see and feel the outdoors in its gentle and its fierce aspects.

Later in life, I found those same things as I explored several arts: ikebana, bonsai, ink painting, garden design and Aikido.

All of these have in common a search for simplicity as they continually refine their interpretation of the natural world:

  • Each seeks balance to bring clarity to the artist and the viewer.
  • Each uses asymmetry to achieve that balance.
  • Each is a mastery practice that teaches as long as one practices because it deals with infinite variables.
  • Each uses humans to tie together the profound and the profane.
  • Each uses native material or what is at hand for its raw materials.
  • Each shares a veneration for things that are old. While innovation is allowed, it is only after all the classic forms have been mastered. The father of a client, an old European man, once said to him that the problem with America was that they didn’t have enough ruins.

These all feed my values in design and construction. I seek simplicity that allows appreciation of the elements that are used. In hardscape, I seek a high degree of craftsmanship, often subtle, placed there for me and the one who knows how to look. I seek a balance through the use of color, space, texture and the placement of background and specimen .

My privileged time out doors has taught me that stone is necessary in any garden for further balance and to connect the space to the earth. In stone is the age and the lesson that ruins provide.