I picked up the leaflet of the National Open Garden Scheme, London gardens open for charity of 2018, at Muswell Hill Methodist Church 9where we go to on Sundays), and found ‘Zen Garden at Japanese Temple, W3’, which was due to open on 2nd
June. We found it quite intrigued and decided to go there on 3rd
The destination - Three Wheels, 55 Carbery Avenue – was located quite close to Acton Town station on Piccadilly Line. As we approached the house, we found two intriguing front gardens with rectangular monuments standing vertically and maple shrubs and stone footpaths. Having seen the banner of ‘National Garden Scheme’ on the wall, we found we’d reached the destination.
As soon as we arrived at the backyard garden, we could see an authentic building – oak framed wattle and daub shelter with reed thatched roof. We were greeted by Japanese people. They explained to us that we would have to pay additional £3 for the lecture of the Zen Garden and Tea Ceremony demonstration, on top of the admission charge, which was £3 each. We both agreed to join
the talks and the tea ceremony and paid £12 altogether.
As a typical Japanese custom, we were asked to take off our shoes when entering the inside of the thatched roof house. We sat on the L-shaped corridor facing to the Zen Garden. We could see the garden was surrounded by trees and shrubs outside the beige coloured wall; several large and small rocks of various colours; large rocks representing islands were surrounded by moss; and a sea of gravel racked in a stylized wave pattern. At 3 o’clock, an English gentleman who designed this garden in 2001 gave a talk. He told us that there were a group of Japanese gardeners who did the work for 3-4 years – placing large and small rocks and meticulously laying a sea of gravel to create an image of ‘islands in a large ocean’. His talks included the thatched roof. Like the traditional Japanese thatched roof, nails were not used. He said that his gardeners used local materials such as Norfolk reed and various Cornish rocks, and the Zen Garden creates different pictures after the rain, at dawn and sunset – a sea of grey granite gravel reflect on
Rocks surrounded by the moss
Large rocks are meant to be the islands in the ocean
the rain and sunshine.
Later on, we went to Leiden University Botanical Garden with my parents and saw the Japanese Zen Garden designed by the Dutch Doctor Philipp Franz von Siebold and has been maintained by gardeners at Leiden University. Comparing with this Siebold Memorial Garden, my mother commented that the Zen Garden at Japanese Temple looks very authentic and well-designed.
After the talk, we joined the Japanese Tea Ceremony. We were asked to sit on the chairs (not kneel down on the floor, as I think many Western people wouldn’t feel comfortable to sit on the floor). Two kimono wearing ladies demonstrated how to serve the green tea and explained their activities and history of Japanese Tea Ceremony, and offered us sweets and fresh green tea.
Three Wheels is a charitable organization and runs various courses, e.g. meditation classes.
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We were interested to read that the thatch was made with Norfolk Reed , as houses near where we live are sometimes thatched with Norfolk Reed