This week, Tina has chosen Harmony as the subject for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge and I can think of few places that better express the feeling of harmony than in a Japanese garden. We are very lucky to have two such beautiful gardens close at hand; at the Chicago Botanic Gardens in Glencoe and the Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford.
This week, Patti has chosen water as the subject for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, but more specifically, as she implies in the title, she is looking for us to make a bit of a splash, maybe like these sparrows taking a bath in the fountain at the Chicago Botanic Garden or koi fish threshing about in a feeding frenzy at the Anderson Japanese Garden in Rockford.
For the Polar bear it was not so much about making a splash as blowing bubbles, but you can always be sure of seeing lots of splashing at the Dolphin Show at Brookfield Zoo.
For larger birds, it isn’t always easy to perform a graceful takeoff or landing on water but they do their best. A cormorant takes of from the pond at Clearwater Park in Mount Prospect and a pelican settles down after making a splashdown on the Mississippi River in Dubuque, Iowa.
For more on the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge go to #21 Splash!
After the hustle and bustle of a long weekend we decided to slow things down and take a trip to the Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford, Illinois. Since Memorial Day is, or should be, a time for sober reflection, the gardens seemed an ideal spot to round things off. This is definitely a place for quiet contemplation.
The gardens first took shape in 1978 after John Anderson visited the Portland Japanese Gardens in Oregon and was inspired to create something similar on his own property in Rockford. With the help of Japanese landscape designer Hoichi Kurisu he achieved his ambition and this beautiful setting is now open to the public.
As with most Japanese gardens, it’s not so much about flowers as textures and groupings of foliage, little pools, waterfalls, bridges and carefully raked gravel.
The West Waterfall took three years to complete. It consists of 800 tons of boulders and 250 cubic yards of concrete. Fourteen hundred gallons of water are circulated through it each minute.
Most of the ponds contain brightly colored Koi and for a nominal sum you can purchase little bags of fish food to throw out to them which causes them to go into an absolute feeding frenzy! I can see why so many people have these fish in their ponds. They’re fascinating and huge!
Other inhabitants of the garden include chipmunks, turtles and many varieties of birds. A flock of cedar waxwings were helping themselves to berries from one of the shrubs when we arrived and a great blue heron stood by the edge of the largest pond probably looking for lunch.
As well as the traditional structures of the guest house and gazebo there is also the Tea House where last year I was lucky enough to participate in an authentic Tea Ceremony. Professor Kimiko Gunji who was our hostess, had just retired after more than 30 years of teaching at the University of Illinois. She was a delightful lady and patiently led us through the ceremony as we fidgeted about, first kneeling then sitting cross-legged while slurping our tea in the prescribed manner.
No tea this time but a very pleasant visit nevertheless.