Bookshelf:

Building My Zen Garden
Vancouver resident Keiran Egan was inspired by a visit to a friends miniature Zen garden on a balcony in Nagoya...he returned home, determined to build his own. His voyage is described in this book...one that I am sure you will enjoy!

It's funny as well as inspirational and even if you are not a gardener you will enjoy his humourous look at challenges and man's relationship to nature.

A Review:

If you’re looking for a book that will teach you the principles of Zen gardening, this book isn’t it (other than in a roundabout way…) On the other hand, if you’re planning on building, or have built, a Japanese style garden, a pond or waterfall, a tea house or other garden structure or a major garden project of any sort, and want to get a feel for the process or compare experiences, this is a book for you.

I fall into the latter category of reader - in 1999, we did a major renovation/addition to a house we bought and spent a large part of the summer this year establishing gardens in the devastated landscape that remained after the house was torn apart, expanded and rebuilt. While we are not creating a Japanese style garden, I am trying to create a calm, peaceful-feeling relatively large, woodland garden, so I enjoy looking at Japanese style gardens for their use of plant color and shapes that aren’t as flower-focused as the average garden tends to be.

While the tea house the author builds is a relatively small structure, it had it’s complexities and, since the author’s intent is to use it as a study, the interior finishing was that of a house as opposed to your average garden shed type structure. Anyone who has built a house or did/plans a major renovation will identify with the author’s tales of construction and the search for the perfect materials. And be impressed by how much he did on his own before calling in a professional carpenter to get it finished!

The construction of the pond is an even more impressive feat. I was impressed with my husband’s digging out of 6 cubic yards of clay to establish a new garden bed along our driveway. But that pales in comparison with the work involved in the excavation of the author’s pond and moving the 7 tons or so of stone for the surrounding wall!

The author frequently refers to the effects all this construction had on his no-longer young body. It certainly was an ambitious project for a youngish grandfather…

So if you’re looking for inspiration and motivation before tackling a dreamed-of larger garden project, or want to feel reminiscent about a house or garden project you put your heart into, this could be the book for you! The author said his publisher was pushing him to finish the teahouse and garden on time so this book could be published in time for the Christmas 2000 gift season. He made it in time and the book would make a good gift for the right person….

Susan Johnston johndron@idirect.com


Author : Kieran Egan
ISBN : 0-618-06378-1
Publisher : Houghton Mifflin
Sugg. Retail Price : $36.95
Available in Hardcover
Number of Pages : 256

  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row