Monday, April 24, 2017

Be Like the Bamboo

Of the garden she funded in memory of her late husband, civil engineer Earl Burns Miller, Loraine Miller Collins said...



..."When a person is tired, or anxious, or in a quest of beauty"...



..."may they enter and come forth refreshed to meet the problems of the day."



She planned every detail of it carefully, with the help of Edward R. Lovell, the Master Landscape Planner of the Long Beach State (now known as Cal State Long Beach) campus where the garden is located.



(The "Blue Brick" guide to architecture calls Lowell's landscape architecture "the best element of the campus.")



Upon its April 1981 dedication, Loraine declared her dream for the 1.3-acre garden: "There will be music of the wind through the pines, music from the waterfalls and the birds," she said.



"There will be serenity as you walk around the lake, and joy, I hope, in the beauty of the reflections in that lake."



"There will be strength and solidity in the rocks and the wooden bridges."



"And, of course, there will be bamboo, a favorite wood of the Japanese because it is so useful and beautiful."



But visual authenticity wasn't necessarily her top priority in terms of the design of what was to become the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden (though its Pacific Northwest-born landscape architect did travel to Japan in his research and was reportedly inspired by the Imperial Gardens of Tokyo).



It was more the symbolism behind bamboo, and the zen philosophy to sway in the wind—and even bend—but never to break.



And this "hill and pond"-style garden, with its island and bridges and "hide and reveal" design aesthetic (known as Miegakure), was meant to last, too...



...though the koi fish may come and go, and the mallards may fly away.



By design, it was meant to not just persist, but also evolve. In fact, when it opened, it was actually rather sparse—a source of some criticism at the time.



But Lovell—like all gardeners—knew that it would take time to grow. In fact, he said, it takes 30 years for a garden to mature. So, he and Loraine were creating "a garden for people we would never know."



Loraine Miller Collins died 10 years after the garden's dedication, and Lovell passed away in 2008. He'd already been gone for nearly eight years by the time I finally made my way to his garden.



So, I'm one of those people that they'd never get to meet. Yet somehow, it feels like this garden was built for me.



It's a place where, if you're feeling stressed, you can just sit awhile, soaking in the garden's "quiet" design, and shed the cares of the world.

And here, you can learn how to be like the bamboo. As the proverb says, the bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: A Sanctuary Among Sewage
Photo Essay: The Japanese Garden That Almost Became a Freeway