Friday, May 16, 2008

Glass House Garden


With the further transformation and development of the systems here at Fuji Eco Park there is always opportunity to make a garden.On the farm there are several small cabins to house wwoofers when they are here.One particular cabin has bottles built into the walls as a decorative effect as well as a heating quality.The sun heats the bottles and the air in them and creates stored heat energy and acts as a thermal mass.

This is not the first time I have seen bottles as walls.I first encountered the concept at Rainbow Vally Farm in New Zealand.Joe Polaisher and Trish Allen use the technique through out their home and outside compost toilets.The system could be used anywhere really and the construction can really get the creative juices flowing.

The cabin here is next to a huge hot tub set amongst rock walls and looks fantastic.It is south facing and during summer I expect it would get quite warm inside but it could be used as a sauna also.Some trees can be planted to shade it a little during the hotter period though.

Masa asked me to design a garden utilizing the unused spaces around the hot tub and cabin that would be beautiful with herbs and vegetables.

We took a look at the work area in question and as it is south facing it is protected from the northerly winds.Alot of rock has previously been used around the area so we kept with that theme and put in a small wall at the bottom of an excavated slope to retain the dirt from the excavation.The wall was to be about 600mm high so it was comfortable to reach over into a garden area behind it.We dug a small channel in the soil to keep the rocks from slipping out from the bottom and packed smaller rocks around the bottom layer of rocks to support them.
I learned this type of wall making when I was studying in Australia at the Permaforest Trust.We had a guy come in to do a workshop on one of our activity based training days and built several walls after that.

A young Japanese wwoofer was staying with us at the time and he was great at lifting the rocks and putting them into place.Where possible,we looked for nice flat rocks for the face of the wall and that they sloped back at the top.A lot of positioning of the rocks is needed to find the best way for the rock to sit.The wall was continued to meet an existing wall and a series of different levels has added some dimension to the whole garden.

At the bottom of the newly constructed wall a path was added and a lower level garden bed was created using a railway timber as the border.In areas where the reaching distance to the center of the garden was uncomfortable,we added a small flat timber as a stepping plate..

Now we have a nice terraced garden full of herbs to lookat when we are in the hot tub and a heap of vegetables mixed in there also.It took 3 guys to construct this garden in 1 day.A lot of material had to he bucketed to the site as we couldn't get a wheel barrow in.A lot of rocks also had to be carried into the area and they weren't light.But we managed.

The most enjoyable part is putting in the plants and watching their progress.I know the wwoofers helping do the work like planting because it is easier than carrying rocks.When each of these jobs are complete,Waka san(an older Japanese worker) stands back and says in a rough English 'beautiful'

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