I have just started on a new project that is taking me to yet another new world. This time, it’s not a virtual world, but a world of concepts, aesthetics, and beauty that is totally new to me.

A friend of mine asked me to build a Chinese Scholar’s Garden. Without knowing anything at all about what that meant, I accepted the challenge. As I began to research the style, I uncovered a vast new universe of thought that has drawn me in more deeply as I continue. This is not Chinoiserie — European impressions of China — this is authentic China, a world that fascinates me by being so “other”.

They are called Scholar’s Gardens because creating one was a favored activity of the scholar class in ancient China. Whereas I am accustomed to a house surrounded by gardens, this is, instead, a garden surrounded by the house. Typically it consists of a series of courtyards; rooms in the house have openings looking into the garden area. Paths and covered walkways lead one on a journey, drawing you into it more and more deeply, offering interesting views and perspectives at each turn. Everything in the garden has significance; there is meaning attached to every plant, every rock, every shape.

I have only just started so I don’t have a lot to share yet. I paled when I read, “The task was considered so complex that only a scholar was capable of completing it, thus his garden was a measure of his knowledge.” I feared that I had no business even attempting such a feat. But I am very lucky to have made friends with one of the most outstanding builders on the grid, Ryusho Ort, whose unsurpassed expertise on Chinese architecture is keeping me grounded and focused.

I will share more as soon as I can!