Category : Uncategorized

Behind the Scenes

The AJG Horticultural Team has been working for several weeks preparing the Garden for the 2019 season. Maintaining the shape and scale of the trees is critical for presenting the highest quality Japanese gardens. Greg Afman, Maintenance Supervisor and Project Manager for Kurisu International, explains the time-intensive process of maintaining AJG’s collection of finely pruned pines.

Beauty Walk

Snow was thick on the ground and on the branches of the trees when I last visited the gardens.   It was a Sunday, and I had gone to church that morning. The pastor spoke about the concept of a “beauty walk”—that is, taking walk out in the world with the sole purpose of noticing and appreciating beauty. One can take a beauty walk on the streets of a city or the trails of a forest preserve or the paths […]

In the Guest House (pt 2)

Here is the second part of a poem I wrote while staying in the Guest House in December. It was the weekend we had that heavy evening fog, followed by a beautiful morning frost. I have been invited for another Guest House retreat, so stay tuned for more writing inspired by the house and the gardens coming soon. Happy New Year to all!   In the Guest House (pt 2)   In an atmosphere of rest It is easy to […]

moon bridge

In the Guest House (pt 1)

The weekend before last, I had the honor and pleasure of staying two nights in the Guest House, in the center of the gardens. I did a lot of reading and writing, sitting and thinking; admiring the gardens; and soaking in the tub. Monday morning I woke up to a frosty wonderland, and took the above picture.   This poem is a piece of what I wrote during my stay. I hope you enjoy.   In the Guest House (pt […]

Buds beneath snow

Last week, I emailed Tim Gruner, our head gardener, to thank him for bringing me on to help out in the garden this fall. He emailed me back, and ended the email with this:   “As cold sets in I begin envisioning all the dormant energy waiting underground, in the buds, resting, restoring and preparing for a new season of growth. Imagine if you could actually see the energy; it would be a marvelous glow. That’s how I manage the […]

Moon in Ice

The gardens are closed for the season. The trees have lost their brilliant color. The cold is settling in. Yet, we can still marvel at nature. We can still notice the beauty all around us. We can still take strolls outside, despite the cold, and simply pay attention.   Here is a poem I wrote after walking through the gardens last week, with some of these thoughts in mind. Happy Thanksgiving to all, and let us be thankful for this […]

“Look how gracefully these leaves are just flowing downstream.”

“Look how gracefully these leaves are just flowing downstream.”   I didn’t see what she meant.   She was a young mother With her young children, And a young man, Perhaps the children’s father, Perhaps her husband.   She was pointing down at the creek, Saying this several times, until her kids Finally looked— “Look how gracefully these leaves are just flowing downstream.”   After the family had moved on I walked over And peered into the water, at the […]

Crutched Oak

Crutched Oak   This large oak Arcs gracefully up and over a stream And is supported by a crutch.   The base of the crutch Is nearly in the stream.   Roughly at the point where the crutch Meets the oak The trunk fractures Into three large branches Then splits, and splits again,  Into countless shoots, which curl and curve, Up and down, Bearing leaves.   The leaves have mostly fallen now. The gnarled oak is nearly bare, Leaning on […]

Sunshine slants through green

Here in Northern Illinois, it is starting to feel like autumn is drawing to a close.   The nights are getting colder, the days shorter, the trees more bare. In the gardens, the season is nearly over: the last day we are open to the public is this Sunday. We are no longer so concerned with clearing the paths of leaves—there are fewer leaves to clear, and fewer visitors to mind them. Instead, we are guarding against the cold. At […]