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American Society of Landscape Architects


August 2008 Issue

Zen Eden
A Buddhist monk designs a three-acre garden in Colorado where its owners can both contemplate and barbecue.

By Daniel Jost, Associate ASLA

Making Hydrology Visible

Do you feel the vibration?” asks Deb Mizell. “It’s a very spiritual place.”

Such a statement about this Colorado garden wouldn’t be surprising had it come from the landscape architect, who happens to be a Buddhist monk. But Mizell is one of the gardeners who manage the practical tasks of weeding, mowing, and deadheading the garden. She, too, is well aware that there is something special about this place.

Gan Eden (Garden of Eden in Hebrew) is the name that Jerome H. and Mary Rossick Kern use for the garden at their Castle Pines, Colorado, home located in a gated community that features a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course. If naming a Japanese- inspired garden after the Garden of Eden sounds a little strange, it’s worth noting that Gan Eden is not the name that Martin Hakubai Mosko, ASLA, uses for the garden, which won a President’s Award of Excellence from the Colorado ASLA Chapter. Mosko prefers Flowers in Space, a name he took from Dogen, a Zen Buddhist teacher who said that flowers in space is the nature of ultimate reality.

As its dual names suggest, Gan Eden has Far Eastern and other influences. Like its Japanese models, Gan Eden is laid out using metaphors that guide the placement of stones and regulate the flow of energy. Yet the garden is designed with the American user in mind. Unlike many Japanese gardens that are designed just to be looked at, Gan Eden is also made to be lived in—though not always as its designer intended.

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