Discover magic of rock

By DANA DUGAN, Idaho Mountain Express, June 7, 2006

Garden designer holds talk, workshop on use of rocks

Boulder, CO (USA) -- Martin Hakubai Mosko of Marpa Associates, in Boulder, Co. is an ordained Zen Buddhist monk and author of "Landscape as Spirit: Creating a Contemplative Garden." He is also the designer of the Sawtooth Botanical Garden's Garden of Infinite Compassion, which was installed in 2005 in time for the Dalai Lama's visit to the valley. While in the valley, the Dalai Lama blessed the custom created Tibetan prayer wheel, which is the focal point of the Garden of Infinite Compassion.

In his gorgeous coffee table book he wrote, "A garden is an artistic expression tapped into the fundament of the creative process: living things. Throughout the world people recreate in their surroundings their ideas of perfection and natural beauty. The garden is filled with the mystery, the mystery of creation. It is a place of peace, solace, healing and inspiration."

Mosko's talk on Friday at the Gail Severn Gallery will be on the how and why of using rocks in landscaping and will include a slide show on the building of the Garden of Infinite Compassion.

"Rocks are the bones of the garden and define the energy and the shape," Mosko explained. "Soil is decomposed rocks, mixed with loam. The earth is made of rock. The earth element is the shape and form.

"There are different approaches to families of rocks, relationships of rocks, what you're looking at and what it is for. There is the mind set before you set the rock, and how to physically go about it as well as the artistic. What is the implication in relation to other stone? It's a mix of the theoretical and practical."

There are two kinds of stone, living and dead, Mosko said. "The living has personality. It is something we pick up on the beach and hold and then can't put down but bring home to keep. That kind has an energy. The dead stone is used for pathways and walls, which is also part of forming shape. Different aspects of use of stone will be shown by using the Garden of Compassion as a setting to illustrate all the principals."

Mosko is an engaging speaker whose gardens around the world have brought him great renown in the business of garden design. His gardens reflect that sensibility as well as all the history of the use of stone, from contemplative gardens in Japan to megalithic ruins, such as Stonehenge in England.

On Saturday, the workshop continues where the evening discussion left off. Participants will develop a general design and approach to a section of the Garden of Infinite Compassion and begin work. Large, medium and small rocks, which were donated by Northern Stone Supply in Oakley, Id. will be purposefully set in the garden one by one.

"Participants will contribute to the long term outlook of the garden," he said.

During morning and afternoon tea breaks, Mosko will discuss tsukubai (Japanese style water basin) construction, pond rockery and edging treatments.

"The water basin feature is very simple to implement on their gardens, Mosko said. "Traditionally, you wash mouth and hands out with fresh water before entering a spiritual space. This brings clarity, purity and freshness."

Sawtooth Botanical Info

Sawtooth Botanical Garden Speaker Series, "The How and Why of Using Rocks in the Garden" with garden designer Martin Mosko, slide show, book signing, and wine and cheese reception at Gail Severn Gallery in Ketchum. 6 p.m. Friday, June 9.

Rock Garden Workshop, with Martin Mosko, Reservations required. Lunch is included in the fee. At the Sawtooth Botanical Garden, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, June 10. The cost is $140 for members and $150 for non-members; lunch and tea breaks are included.

For more information and to register, contact the Sawtooth Botanical Garden at 726-9358 or visit