“Sachi” watercolor painting by kayti sweetland rasmussen

The Japanese period began with teaching my Campfire Girls troop about children’s holidays in Japan. There were many little Japanese friends while growing up in Long Beach, California, and it was fun to hear about “Girls and Boys Day celebrations. When a CampFire Girls troop opened up it seemed like a good project to teach them about children’s customs in Japan, so a lot of study began on my part first.

What started with the CampFire group, extended to studying the language, and to the decoration of a new home and garden.

Japanese screen
Antique Japanese Screen

Japanese Lady
“Japanese Lady” stoneware sculpture by kayti sweetland rasmussen

While we tore the house apart and rebuilt, restored and re-imaged it, we began to tackle the flat, uninteresting patch of grass in the backyard. We suggested a swimming pool, but our girls said they would rather go to the two neighborhood pools where their friends swam.

San Francisco has a world famous Japanese garden which we frequented often getting ideas for a garden of our own. It had to begin with a pool of course, and Dr. Advice spent many evenings after work digging. The hole was soon about 4′ deep, 12′ long and 8’wide, so I suggested he stop. Ultimately, there was another pond with waterfall at the other end of the yard, and a red moon bridge over the larger pool, leading to a small teahouse among the trees at the other side. A wooden finial on the top of the roof was carved by a woodcarver friend. We were indebted to our late brother-in-law and another friend for joining us in all the digging, hammering and celebratory beer drinking after the job was finished. Our good friend Tak Fudenna helped us get rocks and offered suggestions.

gete Japanese garden

J Garden 2 (2)

J Garden 2 (1)

J Garden 4 (1)

J Garden 4 (2)
The bridge had a slight accident a few years later when it groaned under the stress of about 15 high school girls posing for a photo-op before graduation. Dr. A groaned a bit himself when he called home from a business trip and heard the news.

A visiting Japanese friend who came during a home and garden tour, said “It’s lovely now, but wait another ten years and it will be spectacular.” I visited it several years ago, and he was right.

Author: kaytisweetlandrasmussen83

I am a retired fine arts teacher, sculptor/painter, writer, and a native Californian. I love my family,dogs, horses, movies, reading and music, probably in that order. I have been married forever to a very nice man who is nice to old ladies, dogs and children.

8 thoughts on “EVOLUTION OF A GARDEN”

  1. When I still was in grade school, my dad had — what? an intern? an exchange engineer? — who came from Japan and worked with him for a year. To say that having a Japanese man in town was a novelty is putting it mildly.

    But, it was the start of my Japanese period, too. My folks were building our new house at the time, and there were pieces of siding laying around. I clearly remember a drawing I did with colored pencils. It showed a Japanese lady on a bridge much like yours, with a willow tree next to her. As I recall, I did a fair job on the kimono.

    Your garden is beautiful. And isn’t it just the truth, that some things need time to fully develop? We’re so impatient, but the garden will have none of that.


    1. Even people need time to fully develop. Think of what we could be, and what the world could be if w ever achieved perfection. But maybe inspiration and/or innovation are born out of impatience. That sudden thought that we could do it differently.

      I could never care for a garden that time consuming now, but it was such a delight at the time. I’m glad I found the pictures, they had deteriorated. originally they were in color. I thought my girls wold enjoy seeing them again.


  2. I’m in awe of your art, Kayti, all mediums. How lovely to have a teahouse at the bottom of the garden. It takes quite a bit of effort to dig a hole that big. I know, as I once dug one for a fishpond half that size, and that was hard going.


  3. I came home late after a Christmas job when I had the business and found the girls had decorated our house with lovely pine bows on the mantle. When I asked where they got them they told me “off the little pine tree by the bridge.” I was devastated because it had taken so long to get it just where I wanted it. But what a sweet thing for them to do.


  4. The garden is a marvel. I so admire you for studying, planning, and working to make it come together so wonderfully. I know that successful gardens require all those things and more.

    Liked by 1 person

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