Colin Crosbie came to us with impeccable horticultural credentials, and a love for Japanese culture, people and gardens that was absolutely evident from his first words of the evening.
He took us on a tour of some of the finest gardens in Japan, with glorious images, and just as importantly, many insights into the rationale, history and culture behind the Japanese style of gardening. One thing Colin made absolutely clear in the course of his lecture was that any garden outside Japan may be interesting, it may even be beautiful, but it ain’t Japanese. A stand on which he would not be budged, and as we travelled with him, learning of the lengthy apprenticeships necessary to place boulders; the dizzying choices at the moss nurseries; the extraordinary lengths Japanese gardeners go to in order to preserve ancient (and sometimes ailing) shrubs and trees; the attitudes towards vista, dynamic tension and colour, I for one began to see his point. The patience and skill, and even the desire to tell a story with raked gravel , stones and moss is quite alien to the European gardening tradition, and until tonight’s talk had been a closed book to me. Mr Crosbie enlightened us to some extent, though I feel a couple of hours is just enough time to skim the surface.