There is a Japanese garden in Saratoga that I've driven by countless times, but never visited until yesterday. Two of my work friends are traveling in Japan this week for work, and I'm a little jealous. I'd love to see cherry trees in bloom in Japan's spring. So I decided I'd take the time, finally, to go see this little bit of Japanese garden that I don't need to get on a plane to experience.
It was a foggy, drizzly morning in Santa Cruz, but just across the coast range in Saratoga, it was beautiful and sunny and warm. Almost too bright for good picture-taking, but I managed. The cherries, are, indeed, beautiful.
This is a very different garden than the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, and a saw a lot of the "borrowed view" aspect of Japanese garden design in use here. This garden is surrounded by hills wooded with redwood and oak, unlike the more controlled city park surroundings of the San Francisco garden. These trees are worked into the design here, and it works. The garden scrambles up a fairly steep hillside, and stunning views out across the valley are framed by impeccably-trimmed trees. Benches are set along pathways in just the right spots for the best vistas. This is a garden that will change dramatically through the seasons, and I'm looking forward to visting again later in the year. Right now, the cherries are in full bloom, the maples are leafed out but still traced with delicate color, and the camelias are winding down their show. The wisteria is just starting to bud out, and will be stunning in another month or two. In summer, the water lilies will bloom, and in the fall, the maples will blaze out and drop their leaves to reveal the sculptural branches that are hidden the rest of the year.
I was hoping to find a couple of weeping cherry trees to photograph, but there was only one in this garden, and it was far enough off the path that I couldn't really get good angles in my pictures. But I found lots of other things to photograph. It was a nice way to spend a few hours, and when we returned to Santa Cruz, it was still foggy. I'm glad we found some sun for a few hours!