One of the many reasons why I love visiting public gardens is that each one tells a unique story: why it was created, who was the driving force, the inspiration behind it, etc. Seattle’s Kubota Garden is no exception.
Located in the middle of a quiet suburban neighborhood, it’s somewhat of a surprise to find this secret gem nestled among its residential neighbors. Immediately I was intrigued.
In the garden is a memorial stone dedicated to the creator of this magnificent garden, with the following inscription:
‘Fujitaro Kubota was born in 1879, in Kochi Prefecture on the island of Shikoku, Japan. He immigrated to America in 1907 and established his home. In 1927 he acquired this land in order to make a large garden. With his own hands he cleared the land, dug several ponds and cut the trees to build the garden. Mr. Kubota studied landscaping, suffered hard work, and put great effort into this project. The garden was finally completed in 1962 and in that year this memorial stone was erected. It was the eighty-third year of Fujitaro Kubota.’
This garden is a masterpiece in the study of form and shape. In fact, I’ve never seen another garden that comes close.
Form is a concept that is often difficult for gardeners to master, compared to color and texture. Identifying the adjectives that describe a plant’s form is easy enough, but knowing how to use form in the garden is an entirely different matter.
Lucky for us, this garden is filled with stunning examples that show the many different ways a plant’s form can be used to achieve a wide variety of results.
1. Combine contrasting forms
This is a powerful example of creating visual interest using contrasting forms. In this vignette, there are gentle mounding and weeping forms as well as energetic upright, fountain, and conical forms. The repetition of conical and mounding forms are what helps prevent it from looking overly chaotic. The primary colors are green with just a hint of blue and burgundy. But even with a limited color palette, the combination results in understated excitement.