San Francisco Landscape Architect | Japanese Gardens | Spiritual Gardens

Landscape Architecture

the nature of Nature

The origins of Landscape Architecture

In 1953, as a young boy with a love for Nature, I grew up right next to two houses that Frank Lloyd Wright designed in Plymouth, Michigan. Being in and out of those homes and possibly meeting Mr. Wright instilled in me not only an appreciation for the homes’ beauty but also an appreciation for their designer.

Determined to understand more of this master builder, I traveled to Europe in 1971 to further my studies and was led to a great body of Frank Lloyd Wrights’ work in Helsinki, Finland, while studying architects Alvar Aalto and Eliel and Eero Saarinen. It was here that I understood the importance of Nature through their work and it was when I first realized that I had always had a love for Nature myself. Seeing that Nature was at the source of their creativity, I then began my direct study as a Student of Nature.

In 1975 I went to Vermont to study from landscape architect Dan Kiley, who worked with the Saarinens, and through Dan, I learned more about this connection with man and nature. Through the works of Lao Tzu of China and Japanese Haiku poet Matsuo Basho, I then pursued the Chinese and Japanese cultures and their garden design; I was beginning to see a common thread of an understanding of Nature in all of my teachers.

In 1986 I met landscape architect Ron Herman, who studied with Garret Eckbo. It was not a coincidence that Garret Eckbo was a friend of Dan Kiley’s. It was through Ron and his studies and training in Japan, that I found myself going deeper into my study of the Japanese. As a personal friend, Ron still guides me today.

Continuing on with my own practice since 1976, while training, it gave me the hands on sensitivity to have a direct contact with Nature. Nature itself was becoming my guide. When studying an 11th century garden manual called the Sakuteki, I met master garden builder Kinsaku Nakane and some of his students, David Slawson, Julie Moir–Messervy and Shin Abe. Through Professor Nakane, the ancient art form of Landscape Garden Design was awakening inside of me.

I had finally discovered the art form that started it all. From the original Garden of Eden, this was the beginning and the highest of all the arts and I felt an incredible passion deep in my heart. By combining:

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Organic Architecture

The precepts of Landscape Garden Design

With the economic needs of our people in what is called the General Welfare of the People, a new American ideal was born that was finally worthy.

It has become my ambition to further develop this ancient art form and introduce it to you…Gjen-Tara…the Art of Nature, the Life of Man…Landscape Garden Design. This is the true green building and real sustainability that our society is becoming aware of today!

Gjen-tara | Landscape Garden Design

The Art of Nature. The Life of Man.