Go With The Flow
Nearly every inch of this Bloomfield Hills Asian-inspired garden has a story to tell. Attention to detail and hand-chosen imported items make this strolling garden a marvel. While on vacation, the owners of this home had seen a hotel garden that struck their fancy. They brought their ideas to landscape architect Daryl Toby, owner of AguaFina Garden and Imports, in Sylvan Lake. Toby worked with Charles Loughrey to design the initial plans for the property.
The garden extends all the way from the home’s walkout patio downhill to a lake. It’s not uncommon for an Asian garden to meander through the length of the property. Toby wanted the garden to have pieces that were specific to it, so he suggested pavers direct from China, which the homeowners agreed to. Not one to be hands-off, Toby traveled to China to purchase the pavers himself.
“It’s very important to be involved with the project, ” Toby says. “I like to take a general idea and let the garden grow as I’m working on it. You can feel it when the garden is balanced.
To the side of the patio, the home has an overhang, which meant poor growing conditions because the area is blocked from the sun and rain. So Toby implemented a Zen garden created entirely out of stone. In a Zen garden, wavy lines are drawn in sand or crushed stone and large stones are placed throughout the area. The lines represent the waves of the ocean, and the stones represent islands. “The idea of an Asian-style garden is to mimic nature in miniature,” Toby says. “It’s supposed to look like it’s always been there.”
From the Zen garden juts a set of granite steps that lead down the sloped backyard. On each of the steps are carefully placed iron-ore stones from the Upper Peninsula. The stones were chosen for their dark color and angular cut. Placing the stones was no easy task because, during the installation, there was a great deal of rain. The wet ground made for muddy transition from the new construction to finished product. Toby placed the stones where they felt organic so the garden would have a flow.
The garden also has a sculpted scotch pine that was designed and cut to have an Asian feel. Toby flew out to the West Coast and hand-picked the plants.
The steps lead to a pathway that in turn leads to the water’s edge. The pathway is filled with crushed granite, which creates a pleasant sound when stepped on. “It makes a nice crunching sound when you walk on it,” Toby says. “A garden should be a complete experience. It’s not only just the visual, but the sounds that the plants make in the wind.”
As a finishing touch, the homeowners had purchased a statue by Marshall M. Fredericks called The Leaping Gazelle, which was set at the garden’s edge.