Japanese Inspired Gardens
“Nature is my religion. The Earth is my temple” – Billy Joel
“The “Qii” gardens have been landscaped by Heather and are in harmony with the natural environment…and have been designed and themed by Heather from locally sourced materials…some from the surrounding bushland. Many bonsais are peppered throughout the property, whilst other plants surprise and just spring from the ground at random; including ample spring bulbs and daffodils and snow drops; others are inherent natives. “It is nature’s way. I think this epitomises an ideal garden evolution in a bush setting.”
Heather was reading a book about Japanese Zen Buddhist gardens that she found very inspirational whilst working onsite. “The garden design underpins and compliments the therapeutic benefits and philosophy of the Qii house experience and stay. This should simply be to provide a space to reinvigorate and to re energise through engaging with nature.” Qii house gardens offer a perfect place for meditation and for relaxation.”
The garden is constantly evolving, some recent additions include a Chinese Toon having pink foliage, Japanese Maples of different varieties; some having beautiful pink bark. As the Otways is a native “Heathland” setting; I have planted different varieties of native “Heather”. “I am constantly guided and inspired by the many invitations of immersion in this prolific natural landscape, and the many gifts it offers; including the health benefits associated with “Forest Bathing”.
I have peppered many “sit-spots” throughout the property; my favorite is the Outdoor Hot Tub. I’ve read about them in Japan and the Netherlands and the therapy surrounding an outdoor bath and engaging in nature, so I designed my own version of what I thought would be authentic.”
Big enough for two, the bespoke bath is encased in bamboo and with its lid embellished by a medallion depicting mermaids and fish, hand-made by artisans in Haiti from recycled oil drums. Oil-rubbed bronze Mooni waterfall taps add a further dash of style, partly covered, the bath house includes two day beds and is arranged around a giant tree fern. “It’s actually coming through the floor”.
Heather considers the bath house an “enhancer” to the existing experience at Qii House. “In the hot tub you could meditate, use eucalyptus oil, even have a glass of champagne, lay back and inhale the aromas of the forest and just be in the moment – whatever floats your boat. It’s a perfect way to engage all your senses.”
“The Zaborin Walk”
A place in the forest to ‘sit to forget’.
For those seeking a deeper connection with nature, there is a kilometer rainforest Forest Therapy Trail; on the property; “The Zaborin Walk” meaning a place in the forest to ‘sit to forget’. This theme is a derivation of Japanese Zen terminology.
Another addition is “The Garden Tearoom”, which is situated at the back of “Qii House.” It is under a canopy of giant tree ferns and overlooks a steep rainforest gully and the abundant natural flora and fauna of the Otway hinterland. A beautiful meditation space to quieten the monkey mind; as well as for forest immersion or the “Forest Bathing” experience. I have added wisteria to encapsulate the space, a weeping cherry blossom, stepping stones, rocks and bonsai. The Tearoom houses a stone water fountain, a Japanese Lantern and minimalist furnishings. Ideal for a cup of tea after nature immersion along the “Zaborin Walk”. It would make the perfect Chapel for an intimate Zen Wedding.
The Outdoor Shower Room and Therapeutic deck
“Nature has been for me, for as long as I can remember, a source of solace, inspiration, adventure, and delight; a home, a teacher, a companion.” – Lorraine Anderson
I am loving the outdoor shower space under the largest mossy tree at Qii House. A beautiful narrow leaved peppermint, and my favourite tree. The space is secluded and is well equipped with a large bamboo wrap around screen, a large cyprus wash stand complete with river stone washbowl and a rough sawn timber mirror. The therapeutic deck is a timber garden extension, built around an ornamental pear tree, camellia of Japanese variety and a Japanese Maple with glorious pink bark.
Other embellishments include a Jizo sculpture from the North of Japan, meditation stones, bamboo planters, a natural stone table and chairs, and a large Pod Chair. The primary role of the Jizo is to protect children. The other central role of the Jizo is to protect travellers. This tradition is derived from the ancient belief of Dosojin. Dosojin is a deity who protects travellers. This sanctuary has been created for those who love to indulge in nature meditation and forest bathing. The outdoor shower room is situated on the edge of a large therapeutic deck extending from the outdoor bath house; and is housed in my secret garden.
Life takes you to unexpected places. Love brings you home…if you are always trying to be normal you will never know how amazing you can be. I thank you for your part in my journey.
Temple Garden And Its Evolution
…art takes nature as its model…nature gets into our souls and finds hidden parts of ourselves….
The Temple Garden is yet another work of passion at Qii House.
Originally a pond some years before purchase immersed in the rich rainforest landscape of the Otways, it had become a wasted space and no longer held water due to invasive tree roots. The now “Birabon” which is the Japanese word for billabong has been given new life. It has become a vital space for solace for some guests in the now Temple Garden. It needed to be cleaned out and rejigged with a clay liner which was expertly restored by Wayne Fitzgerald and Mark Farrell in late 2020. A Japanese inspired gazebo thatch by Aaron’s Outdoors sits quietly on the water’s edge. It is now my happy space where Heather loves to sit, to contemplate life, to have lunch albeit late and to feed the goldfish.
Mr Peng Huang assisted the expert process of creating an Aquaponics system* in March 2021. His role was for advice and expertise in creating a filtration system using pebbles and a pumping mechanism. I then on his good advice, purchased some colorful goldish; including some from China and also added some water plants including waterlilies. I have added a variety of plants, including cherry blossoms, Prunus plums, a variety of Japanese Maples, hellebores, rocks, water bowls and sculpture art. I especially love the rich Autumnal colours. Spring cherry blossoms are another highlight, signifying a time of renewal and the healing nature of life.
Josh and his team from Surfcoast Concepts created an artful cascading waterfall feature at the water’s edge which is mesmerizing.
Heather so loves working and creating this evolving space; a space for peace, for inspiration, for quiet contemplation, meditation, reflection and for personal growth. Scott Nobel is wondrously working a boardwalk showcasing various aspects of the serenity which will be another magical forest thoroughfare to Qii house.
What A Temple Garden Represents
In Japan a temple garden contributes to the expression of nature and symbolizes renewal, calm, wonder and continuity in the hereafter. The sole purpose of the garden was to offer monks a place to meditate Buddha’s teachings. The purpose of building and upholding this garden is to encourage meditation.
Gardens are also thought of as an image of the soul and innocence. It symbolizes consciousness because of its enclosed characteristics; as opposed to a forest which is an uncontrolled sanctuary. Heather’s concept of garden evolution is both raw and spiritual and is in working harmony with the forest.
She loves to “dress up” the forest. Embracing Zen conceptualizations and for Forest Bathing. There are many “sit spots” to facilitate these contemplative processes; including two magnificent bespoke Emperor’s seats. These were lavishly handcrafted by Kian and Luke from Surfcoast Concepts and with great attention to detail.
A Cherry Blossom for example resembles a metaphor for the human cycle of birth, life and death. A symbol of rebirth and hope and in seizing the most precious moments in our lives. Gardens are commonly considered feminine and represent fertility. Befittingly these gardens are symbols of happiness, salvation and purity.
Some Sculptural Garden Elements
The “Crane” in Japan is considered to be the bird of happiness, while the “Eagle” symbolizes the great power of nature. The peacock is associated with the deity called Kannan in Japan. It is the symbol for compassion and kind heartedness. Fittingly, these wonderous sculptures have been masterfully created from repurposed metals and upcycled. Given new life by the very ingenious and skilled artist, Steve Pratt.
The iconic Yin Yang Sculpture by Ben Storch is the garden focal point; an absolute highlight and a masterful example of “Earth Art”. It was installed skillfully by its genius creator in May 2022. I love the floating dichotomy between rock and sculpture…a rigid dichotomy between earth and art. The Yin Yang concept describes how opposite forces may be complimentary. This duality is an indivisible whole.
I enjoyed the engagement with Ben during the entire process of the Yin Yang creation (albeit a challenging time during COVID) and in meeting Ben onsite and witnessing with fascination and amazement its installation.
“It is the marriage of the soul with nature that makes the intellect fruitful and gives birth to imagination.” Henry David Thoreau
Sending you all much love and light and in giving you courage in moving forward on your magical journey to living a life of your, dreams.
*The principles of aquaponics applicable to the project
Aquaponics combines the techniques of fish keeping (aquaculture) with that of agriculture. Fish produce waste and the accumulation of fish waste in the water is harmful to the fish. Therefore, fish keeping requires a filtration system that converts fish waste in the water into liquid plant food, substances that are harmful to fish but beneficial to plants. When water plants grow in the pond, they thrive on the liquid food, effectively take away the harmful substances out of water. As a result, water conditions, including its pH value, are maintained in a way that the water is free of harmful substances. Such is the ideal mutual beneficial relationship called a symbiotic relationship. Peng Huang.
Feel the Vibe and Come Alive!
Qii house is an out of box experience. Savor the moment in fresh mountain air, in the ancient otways eco-system, where focus is shifted to the art of living in harmony with nature’s rhythm.
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