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The exhibit is held in the private garden designed and built by owner Greg Bruell, who has been developing the site since 1992. The landscape design is characterized by rolling green hills and terraced ponds. Although the design shows a strong Japanese influence, it is fundamentally an American garden, built with rock and plant materials local to its site.

The element of water permeates the landscape, with four ponds connected by streams and waterfalls. On still days, colorful koi fish can be seen schooling below the reflections of trees, rocks and sky. The ponds also attract wildlife: turtles loiter on rocks, dragonflies chase about the sky, and frogs and toads populate all the shady corners of the water’s edge. Waterfalls were designed as much for sound as for views: some gush, others trickle; sheer drops fall beside shallow steps, creating different pitches. The combined effect is an idealization of the sound of a mountain stream.

The skeleton of the garden is its rocks: granite and schist boulders collected from farms and quarries around the region and arranged painstakingly into outcroppings and islands. Each rock is selected for its interesting shape and for a prized patina of lichens and mosses. Special rocks were saved for years awaiting the perfect placement. Stepping stone pathways, stone walls, and enormous slab retaining walls all serve to blur the distinction between garden and structure, natural and manmade. If rocks are the sculpture of the garden, then moss is its paint. The manicured moss gardens contain at least 30 different types of native moss. Luxuriant expanses of moss edge the water features, and intimate moss beds are tucked beneath trees to capture dappled morning light.

The horticultural collection is noted for Japanese Maples: over 100 different varieties grow here, ranging from large landscape trees to miniatures only a few inches tall. Numerous dwarf cultivars of white pine echo the native pine forest beyond, but reduced to a human scale. Each tree is thoughtfully pruned, the entire composition designed to lead the eye through lush layers of texture and foliage that fill the view from earth to sky. The complete composition cannot be appreciated from any one view: it unfolds only as one walks through it.

The garden is equally beautiful in all seasons. Flowering trees and shrubs light up a succession of color compositions in spring. An almost monochromatic palette of blue-green makes the garden cool and serene in summer. Maple foliage erupts like flames in the autumn. After leaves fall, the fascinating branch-work of Japanese maples contrasts against the masses of evergreens to produce a lush and scenic winter garden.

text and images © 2003 Viselaya Foundation. All rights reserved.