Thursday, August 14, 2014

Celebrating Marpa! Forty great years.


 Marpa Landscaping celebrated 40 years of creating beautiful gardens across America last Saturday. We were privileged to join that celebration--here we are entering the magic garden that was virtually wiped out in last year's floods, and has been nourished back better than ever in time for this party!

Late afternoon light filtering through Japanese Blood Grass (Imperata cylindrica 'Rubra')
Many years ago I thought there were "Japanese" gardens, focused entirely on the scene where plants were nothing but paints to create a Zen-like state of contemplation. And then there were flower gardens, which are all about color and interest. Then I came to know Marpa Landscaping, and Martin Mosko, its principal. I remember watching the trucks with Marpa logos driving around Boulder when I was a relative youngster (not to give away my age)--little knowing that Martin, his wife Alxe and their company would become one of the touchstones of my professional life, and dear friends. Marpa has perfected the contemplative garden (in fact they wrote a book about it!--click on the link and see!), but filled those gardens with intimate, colorful details that would grace a cottage garden. Their wonderful home garden (virtually destroyed last September) illustrates this remarkable fusion of Oriental and Western views.

From a distance the various forms are calming and harmonious--but look at the dramatic color contrasts in shrubs, groundcovers and dwarf trees--that offer lively interest in winter as well!

A large pond filled with Koi and various water plants adds drama and appeal to any landscape and Marpa is no exception!

There were huge deposits of debris and much of the garden was washed away less than a year ago: it's amazing to see how quickly the new plants are filling in--and there is something charming about the dotted plantings of groundcovers that will only too quickly blend into one.

Martin is a master of contrast--the subtle contrasts in textures everywhere, the contrast of gnarly shrubs and trees and soft groundcovers, with rocks and a wonderful range of greens...

More glimpses of trees and vistas.

There are numerous handsome specimens, like this Chinese Table Pine (Pinus tabuliformis)

Japanese maples thrive in Boulder's cooler climate--and more neutral soils.

I believe this is a California strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis) which I haven't seen used elsewhere in Colorado at all. A wonderful, lustrous dark green. I must remember to ask for some divisions!

Late afternoon is restful and evocative in any garden: at Marpa it's sublime!

Jan and I felt lucky to be included with the many dozens of old friends, associates and customers that the Moskos included in the list: despite the crowd, the garden swallowed us up! It felt intimate and welcoming.

Another view of the Japanese grass and the contrasting view...Just realized I don't have any blood grass! I must find a spot to do this on a modest scale!

The mass of waterlilies are wonderful, but it's the reflective empty space of the water that makes it work: as Lao-tzu observes, it's not the bowl, but the hole in the bowl that is useful"...

The occasional splash of color, like this lily in the ice plant, makes the calm green spaces all the more eloquent.

I will enjoy watching these new perennial groundcover beds develop: Martin has developed an obsession with Sempervivum: yay!

A reader of the blog has saved me the effort of looking up the Kanji I was unsure of: Mason Brown informs us that the characters transliterate as "Haku bai ji", which translates as "White plum temple".

The host with guests

And here Martin is pointing out something very interesting...wish I knew what it was!

Yes...that is one of the desert tables on the left...if you know me, you know I couldn't resist. Not only was there good company, good food--but a magical evening of poetry and music. Marpa has always done things in style...

Another glimpse of the festivities: the food was delicious!

Chairs and views beckoned in every direction...

The waterlilies were amazing!

I'm a sucker for backlighting through grasses...but then, who isn't?

I can only imagine what these Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola') will look like in a year or more ribboning through the purple Heuchera.

It is worth doing a bit of sleuthing if you're not a Buddhist scholar to learn about the mythic figure, Marpa Lotsawa, who inspired this Landscaping firm. Hovering beyond the haunting landscapes they create there is a whole other world deeply rooted in spirituality, a world we could sense almost tangibly last Saturday. Happy Birthday, Marpa!

*I here re-enter the link to Marpa Landscaping I started this blog posting with--knowing that you may have glossed over it. Do browse their website and sample the work the Martin, Luke Sanzone, Alxe and their remarkable cohorts have done: perhaps the most lavish and wonderful gardens I've seen not just in Colorado, but in the World. You should know their work.

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