The thing that really sparked my interest in Japanese gardens was a program called Dream Windows on PBS. Oh, God, the gardens were exquisite. You just walk in there and it's like you're walking into the Garden of Eden.
Beyond Book Learning
We had a gentleman named Mits Murakami who was very involved in the tea garden construction. He has been doing Japanese landscaping in the Valley for probably 50 years. He and I were working almost on a daily basis down there, and he was teaching me how to do Japanese pruning techniques. So I learned from the master I truly did.
The Zen of Pruning
As you develop your skills, I have found that you can look at a tree and it tells you how it's best to be pruned.
Gardening in the Desert
We've had to adapt. You have a Japanese garden, and people think that you have to have plants that would grow in Japan. That's not true. It's a matter of patterns, and the contrast of the textures, colors, or shades of green.
Even if you're working, [the garden] is still restful. And I think people are attracted to that, even though most of these people have their own yards to take care of. Guys like me, living in an apartment, don't have much of a garden nothing, actually so we could spend all the time in the world out there. And it gives me a purpose to get up in the morning.
A Japanese Take on Nature
Shinto, their religion, is animistic, similar to Native Americans. And I think there's something to it, I really do. You know, I don't want to get really spiritual or anything, but when I said that a tree tells you how it wants to be pruned . . . I think there is something in there that's a positive spirit. And it doesn't have to necessarily be an animate object. I mean, every rock in that garden is different.