Q: If you were to encapsulate what landscaping is to you, what would that be?
David: It’s a way to get in touch with your true nature. Gardens are sacred. We try to find a way to connect , to realize that "I’m a part of , not separate from". And by doing that, we see the commonalties, that we’re like the other person. There’s an inner spirit linking us. In nature it’s like that. If I "look" at a tree with only my eyes, I see it’s size, shape, and color only. It looses its luster. If I take myself out of that thinking mind, when I’m in touch with my true nature and really look at the tree, I see it for what it is. It becomes illuminated. I can see the energy. I can feel it. It’s as simple as that.
I think the garden, if it’s developed not so much using the conscious mind, but using the consciousness beyond the mind, if it's created that way, then it has the ability to heal. The type of gardens that we create, I believe that they’re meant to heal. That’s where I like to take the garden. It’s not so much me doing it, it’s working through me. I don’t believe that the things I’ve created, I’ve done solely by myself. I believe that my creativity doesn’t come from my mind at all. I don’t subscribe to the notion that I’ve created it by developing it in my own mind, it’s greater than me. This way of designing and building these projects, for me, is a way of reconnecting. I think that if I’m able to do that, then others are able to get in touch with their true nature and reconnect as well.
Q: In respect to your desire to have an eminent healing power in the gardens you build, do you talk to your client about that? How do you think it effects them?
David: I don’t say much about it because many people are operating out of their intellect, and the mind can’t understand it. It’s not to be understood, it’s to be felt. The thing I’m talking about isn’t experienced via the five senses, it’s beyond that, it’s a spiritual experience. The mind isn’t involved. Once the mind gets quiet and still then one can feel the qualities of the garden. But, trying to understand it on an intellectual level isn’t possible.
Q: Is there a part of your Japanese heritage that infuses these feelings and intentions into your designs?
David: Prior to even doing any design work, I ask permission of the site. "What would you like me to do?" Yes, the client has a wish list, but if it’s in conflict with what the energy of the site calls for, I can’t do it that way. I let them know. I do that with rocks, stones. I have an exchange with the individual stones because they have to be in harmony or it will be felt.
I think that’s what takes it to that level. That’s what brings about the peace that can be felt. And, the mind doesn’t understand that. If you were just say "This is where the stone will go, it looks good here", it looses quality, it looses part of it’s life energy. That doesn’t work for me.
I look at plant composition, the plants, they’re like music, like key notes, each plant associated with a certain note, and when it’s composed and put together, you have a song. Plant composition is my music. I don’t need my senses to experience a garden. I don’t need to see it. I don’t need to hear it. I don’t need to smell it. I can appreciate it without any of those things, just being in it. As I said, for me the garden is very sacred. It allows the mind to get quiet and for one to get in touch with their spiritual side. For me...birds, nature...it all works. The part that doesn’t work is us. That’s the truth. Everything else is in sync. This all works and it has been working for eons. It's man who is not connected.
He has identified himself as separate from the source of life as he relies more on technology and less on nature. That’s the problem.
I don’t want my gardens to manipulate nature. That’s the difference. Am I manipulating it or am I being a part of it? I fit in with the garden, rather than viewing it as something I’ve created.
Q: How does all of this fit into the way you approach design? What is the design process?
David: If I have a base sheet showing the existing elements, I don’t have any preconceived ideas. It’s like the pencil just moves on its own. Yes, definitely. I don’t think about. The deck is this shape, it goes here, and so forth. It is very intuitive.