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"William Webster Biography(abstract) — The biography concentrates on my background coming to Japanese culture (bonsai, suiseki and Japanese gardens) and a summary of my Columbus Japanese garden.
William Webster Biography

Born: Iowa City, Iowa, 1937

Education: Curtis Institute of Music (BMus), University of Iowa (BA), University of Pennsylvania (PhD, philosophy)

Teaching: University of the Arts (Philadelphia) 1968-2002.

My interest in Japanese culture began some 20 years ago; initially, in addition to bonsai (trees in pots) and suiseki (viewing stones), this included tea, haiku, and prints. After visiting Japan I created and taught a course on Japanese Art and Culture, 1550-1868.

I began buying and cultivating bonsai and collecting stones and making dais (wood bases) for suiseki in San Francisco in 1988. The Takagi Bonsai Museum in Tokyo and the Suiseki Collection at the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C., have some of my dais.

I made my first Japanese bonsai garden in Philadelphia, following three trips to study gardens in Kyoto. This garden was approximately 900 square feet, with a small plastic koi pond set in the ground and about 50 bonsai planted in the ground. I took all of the bonsai trees with me when I moved to Columbus, Ohio, in 2004.

My garden in Columbus is approximately 1300 square feet. I began the garden in the spring of 2004 (clearing the yard, digging the pond and stocking it with koi, building the fence; border trees and bamboo were planted in the fall).
Major elements were completed during the summer of 2005 (11 tons of white marble chips, all the bonsai beds, bamboo pond fountain). I have five bonsai remaining in pots; one is integrated into the garden (view 3).

The footprint of the koi pond is roughly 180 square feet. The filter system for the pond is a Laguna Pressure-Flo 2100UVC with a 2500-gallon circulating pump.

The garden consists primarily of bonsai trees planted in the ground; it also contains about a dozen specimen trees, including black and white pine, dawn and ocean redwood, hinoki (false cypress), three varieties of Japanese maple, pin oak, zelcova (Japanese elm), and ilex. The garden uses its few display stones sparingly. The configuration at the back of the pond (view 3) is a typical use of garden stones; two other stones function as what I might call "garden suiseki," single objects of contemplation: one under the stream of water from the bamboo fountain (views 3, 8) and the other, a Murphy's stone, behind the major hinoki forest bed (view 6, right edge).

One of the reasons for creating this site is to invite anyone interested in Japanese culture (in particular, Japanese garden, bonsai and suiseki) to share my garden with me. I would appreciate any questions or comments regarding the garden or my writings about it.

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