BEFORE AND AFTER: WAY BEFORE!
When in spring 1976 we purchased what is now Momiji-en, the condition of the place was such that we were not inspired to make photographs that today would be the “befores” in before-and-after comparisons. Instead, our photo archive for Momiji-en begins a year or so later after we gained some control of the area nearest our home in what was then the back yard and, now, is the Upper Flat Garden, or hiraniwa. Here (above and immediately below) is what it looked like in late summer 1976.
(By the way, most images will enlarge when you click on them.)
As our work progressed outward from our home to the further reaches of the property, we began to make more photos. I especially enjoy reflecting on the several iterations of what is now the Natural Garden, or shizen. Initially, it was a weedy hillside bounded on the north by numerous—and mostly volunteer—conifers.
There was one lone Douglas fir that was the “bookend” for a large laurel hedge that divided the property. Armed with small hand saws, we undertook its removal! Despite all our planning and our ropes tied to the tree, it fell not where we had intended, but directly on to our vegetable garden space!
An ambitious early iteration of this north-most space was our vegetable garden.
Two apple trees in the foreground below, probably remaining from the dairy farm once here, occupied territory that is now the site of the tea house.
Before we removed the apple trees, we pruned them annually with the help of Archie, one of our two earliest feline companions.
The Lower Flat Garden has evolved as well. Initially, it was bounded on the west by two large California redwoods and on the south by a large alder.
The redwoods, alder, and other trees were removed by Rich Holmes of Holmes Tree Preservation Service, who was then a young man early in his career.
The street presence of the home we purchased was uninviting and unkempt. Bill brought vision and youthful energy to renovate the area from weeds and juniper
We plan a future more thorough and comprehensive presentation of historical images of Momiji-en (and more before-and-after photographs), but these suggest the extent of the evolution that’s brought us to where we are, four decades later.