#7 The Zen Garden

Subdivision: Diamond Tail
Address: 110 Buffalo Ridge Road
Owners: Oddie and Juanita Brown
Garden Type or Features: The owner personally designed and landscaped the property in the Zen philosophy of design in coordination with the natural setting. The back-yard water pond and rock waterfall feature was built over a period of 3 months by the owner.

Description:  Speaking with Oddie about landscaping is an entertaining lesson on the art and philosophy of Zen garden design. Odie was trained and influenced as a young man in garden maintenance and landscape design by Yashiro Yamada while growing up in Englewood, a suburb on the south side of Chicago. Yashiro was the high school football coach of Englewood High School. Oddie is both artist and landscape designer. He always starts with a clean slate to develop one of his landscape masterpieces. He explained that to develop a garden is like developing a body. First you must have a skeleton, which is the rock or hardscape in the garden. For this Oddie brought in large boulders and moved them in place by hand to create the irregular mountain outcropping structures in the landscape surrounding his home. Next you must have the skin, which is the soil and water. For this Oddie used both native and amended soils and created waterfall and ponding features in his landscape. It took him three year to build the large cascading water fall and pond in his back property. Finally, the garden is ready for the “hair”, which consists mostly of native and native adapted plants on this property. The rock, swales, and slopes of the landscape passively collect rainfall, promote propagation of plants from seed, and the naturalization of shrubs, cactus and wildflowers on his property. He uses very little if any irrigation water on this property and his landscape is low maintenance.

Oddie has created artful touches throughout his landscape by vignette planting which may include a water feature and rock sculpture interest. He prunes his juniper pine trees to have an Asian appearance. Together, he planted two different types of vines, clematis and trumpet, which arch above the large front window of his home creating a living trellis with flowering at different times of the growing season. He tinted the landscape boulders by hand to provide a uniform reddish-brown sandstone appearance.  Distinct garden spaces appear like framed oil paintings from the windows and interior spaces of his home. 

Oddie has created a unique creation that must be seen.  “The garden is still and always will be, progressing.”

Note to Tour Guests:  There may be restricted walking access to the back waterfall area due to the steepness of the rock landscape.  There is a full view of the waterfall available from the back portal of the home.  Ask for assistance and advice from the garden volunteers for safe walking and viewing on this property.

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