Begun in 2005, after an inspiring trip to the gardens of Kyoto, Three Bridges Stroll Garden pairs the Japanese notions of restraint and appreciation of nature with the unkempt, disheveled woods of New Hampshire. Its goal is to convert a weed patch, meandering stream and neglected forest into an interesting, picturesque walk.
Throughout Japan, there are many astonishingly beautiful and peaceful gardens. The Helpful Gardener has an explanation of the design principles of Japanese gardens. Our favorite site is Katsura Rikyu, a stroll garden in Kyoto. Here is an online tour of that princely retreat. By custom, stroll gardens are designed to provide pleasing views from many vantages along their paths. Being in a northern zone, Three Bridges' views also change with the seasons.
There are, of course, three bridges in the garden. Pont de Pierre, named for its builder, is borrowed scenery for the nearby house, a twist on the traditional definition of using distant visual components to create a view from a garden. A stone bridge crosses a waterfall. The most recent addition to the garden is the gentle, simple arc of Moribashi (moribashi means forest bridge in Japanese).As the bridges were completed, a path was needed to connect them. In addition to making the area more attractive, features were placed along the path, such as a tall Torii gate to welcome visitors at the garden's entrance. After crossing under the gate, a granite walkway leads to "Zen Beach", a raked sand beach fronting the first bridge. Future plans include improving the walkways and clearing a route to link the garden's paths with nearby forest paths and traditional New England gardens. There are also some energy-harnessing experiments to perform, such as using the waterfall for hydro-power and erecting a small windmill.