The Garden Path

by Yvonne Michie Horn

The Vasa was a magnificent ship. Decorated with symbolic sculptures and carvings, gold leaf on her poop and bronze guns polished to a fare-thee-well, she was built to impress and strike fear as the pride of Sweden’s 17th-century Royal navy.

On a fine August day in 1628, with king, court and populace gathered, she was launched. Within minutes — sails set, flags flying, gun ports open for the royal salute — she caught a gust, heeled over and sank.



Moss gone amuck was not intended to be the garden’s definitive element when Muso Soseki, 14th-century Zen priest and famed garden designer, created the gardens surrounding Saiho-ji temple in Kyoto, Japan. That would come centuries later, muffling a design rare and original for its time: a garden intended to be enjoyed for its idealized earthly beauty, not as a religious exercise.

Paths invited pleasurable strolling; small, flat-bottomed boats took visitors to three islands floating in...