While the garden is open to the public, it is not clear under what circumstances this is the case.
Added to JGarden:
Bonnie Teasdel's Japanese garden began with an essay rather than a design. She had been left an inheritance by her mother who had also built Japanese gardens in New Orleans and Rancho Santa Fe. After visiting the gardens of Kyoto, she decided to use the inheritanc eto build her own garden. The garden master, Saito Katsuo, then 92, was visiting California at the time. He asked her to write down her reasons for wanting him to do the design as well as how the garden would subsequently be used. In her essay, Teasdel pledged to share the private garden with others and credits this promise with Saito's agreement to do the work.
Teasdel's garden has three sections: a stroll garden, a meditation garden and a tea garden (roji). Teasdel uses the tea house to practice ikebana and to hold tea ceremonies for guests. The garden also has several unconventional elements, however. The swimming pool is what separates it from Saito's 400 other gardens. The pool won a gold medal from the National Swimming Pool in 1989. It's moss-covered rock edges, diving rock and turtle island with a kuromatsu pine in the center make it a unique site. The garden also includes a spa and koi pond. Another innovation was the integration of computer controls for the lighting, cleaning and waterfalls that feed the pool and attached koi pond.
Teasdel did more than write checks for the project. She personally selected all of the 210 tons of local stone from a quarry in the Sutter Buttes (known as the world's smallest mountain range). She even flew out to Los Angeles to rent a truck and drive back 60 bags of Mexican black stones, the delayed arrival of which had threatened to derail the project. Her well-thumbed copy of Saito's book Magic of Trees and Stones has been a guide throughout the process.
After the stone skeleton of the garden was in place, the second phase began. This consisted of the construction of a teahouse or chatei and required 75 craftspeople to complete. The third phase was the addition of a karesansui meditation garden just outside the fence that surrounds the main garden. This area also includes a grouping of stones with a 6ft black pine (kuromatsu) that welcomes the visitor into the garden.
Teasdel describes the garden as aspiring to shibui. According to her, Saito wanted "people to feel the unity of the rocks and water, and all the trees and plants. Unity is the principle of why I build these gardens all over the world. Friendship, and the feeling that we are one people, is what I express in these gardens.
I would have the plum flowers
always in my garden
like the ones
that bloom before me now
Ume no hana
ima sakeru goto
waga e no sono ni