Flashback to Mytoi Gardens

Continuing with my trip down memory lane, the second garden I visited on Martha's Vineyard is on the smaller, adjacent island, Chappaquiddick. Mytoi Gardens is a wonderful Japanese garden. As with any Japanese garden, trees and shrubs are the stars of the show, displaying their beautiful structures to the greatest effect thanks to the meticulous and aesthetically sensitive pruning of the gardeners. While I prefer those plants that are pruned to highlight natural forms, or display idealized natural forms, I do appreciate the effort and artistry that goes into the more formal shapes. Mytoi favors more natural and informal pruning styles and is a study in tranquil greens. You can find more information about Mytoi Gardens here.

I may be remembering incorrectly, but I believe there was a special significance to the rock under the bamboo spout. I think it was donated from a garden or temple in Japan, perhaps, or something of that nature. I believe the purpose of this stone and water and the entrance to the garden, was for visitors to cleanse themselves before entering the garden and enter in tranquility. At least that sounds nice. Nothing like a foggy memory to ruin a good story!

Square pavers set into a small lawn...hmm, remind you of another garden belonging to a certain blogger? What you won't find much of in that garden though, is the big, lush rhododendrons that surrounded this little alcove off of the path.

Our friend the Stewartia continues to follow us on our visit to Martha's Vineyard. I just love these trees.

 Mytoi is full of both intimate spaces and broad, peaceful vistas. Here a collection of dwarf conifers and a weeping Japanese maple edge a sandy path while, across the pond, a backdrop of native pines and other trees encloses the garden in a green embrace.

The native white pines with their naturally tiered branches lend themselves to an informal Japanese garden. The coastal winds add a bit of a windswept where ever the trees are exposed, giving them additional interest. The garden has a large pond, complete with an island and a zigzag bridge. The sharp turns of this style of bridge are thought to prevent evil spirits from crossing. I guess evil spirits tend to be a little tipsy.

Ground-covering junipers, towards the top of the slope in the picture below, are used to great effect here, forming a lovely carpet beneath the larger plants. Two red Japanese maples, with a larger, bright green one overhead, add some variations in color against the backdrop of Thuja and other conifers.

 Long past bloom, Enkianthus still provides some interest with their layered growth habits and dangling seed pods. After the blooms fall off, the seed capsules turn to face upward. Looking something like little green eggs on ladles. Interesting imagery, no? Where's the ham?

More low-growing juniper, flowing down a slope and providing another alcove with a view deeper into the surrounding green. The placement of stone is very important in Japanese gardens.

 I don't know what pine this is, but I loved it! (And I'm not a huge fan of pines save a select few.) The loose, informal cloud pruning style gives this little tree a lovely structure and the bluish needles make it stand out from the yellowish green backdrop.

Water, both flowing and still, is another important component in Japanese gardens. The next few pictures highlight the reflections of the garden in the large pond. An inverted world appears in the surface of the water, disturbed by wind but at times a perfect reflection.

 A few flowers do sneak in among the peaceful greenery, like this Lobelia siphilitica.

Another view of the bridge and a good example of the windswept look of the pines, shaped by the constant winds from the ocean.

I loved this group of heathers and dwarf conifers with rhododendrons in the background. In my own garden, it would be broken up with a little more variety in texture and color, but here it continues the relaxing green feeling of the garden. I especially like the dwarf larch in the front.

A view partially through a Cryptomeria japonica (Japanese cedar) provides another view down into the garden, with part of the bridge and pond just visible.

More carefully-tended and shaped gorgeous greenery.

Nearing the end of our tour of Mytoi, we walked up a path with a shallow stream running right alongside it. Alchemilla mollis, or lady's mantle, ferns, and rhododendrons grow along it, occasionally dipping leaf or branch into the flow of the water.

The source of the stream is a pretty natural-looking spring bubbling up from the rocks under the shelter and twisting branches of a large rhododendron.

Mytoi Gardens is a serene place, simultaneously offering expansive views, twisting paths, and secret nooks, offering many environments for people to relax and find peace. Here you can feel free from your constraints, find yourself in the twists of your thoughts, or find a peaceful alcove to center yourself.

This turned out to be the perfect garden to revisit today. I'm full of frenetic and nervous energy. It's mostly a good energy (at least I'm hoping it's good), but it needs some calming nonetheless, or else I'll never get to sleep!


  1. We certainly discover new places we've never heard of before via blogs like yours Evan. The place looks so calm and serenely beautiful.

    1. One of the perks of taking so many internships in varying parts of the country!

  2. This is a lovely garden, quite a bit less controlled looking than the Portland Japanese Garden, where the hand of the gardeners is everywhere in evidence. The natural, windswept look is no doubt deceiving, as all Japanese gardens are pretty controlled. You are so right: every stone tells a story, even in its placement.

    1. It is much less formal than the Portland Japanese Garden, even described as being more of a "Japanese style" as opposed to a true Japanese garden. The windswept look of the larger trees is indeed genuine, but I have no doubt the smaller plants have been carefully tended and pruned to complement the naturally-shaped trees.

  3. What a beautiful place. The serenity is charming. I bet it looks great in all seasons.

  4. There is a lot of peacefulness in an evergreen garden, I don't really like the winter look of the brown branches of the deciduous trees in my garden. Bamboo looks wonderfully green in the winter though, when I think about it, it seems strange that there would be no bamboo in a Japanese garden. I have a lot of cedars and rhodies too, which give that yearround green effect. I like the twisty Rhody too, some of my shrubs are very good for that, others not. The water feature adds a lot, and I especially like the pines trimmed into a cloud style. Cool garden tour!


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