PVN Resident Creates His Own Personal Japanese Garden

Bill Maina, a resident of PVN, has been visiting the Fort Worth Japanese Garden for the last 40 years. A little over 20 years ago, he was inspired to design his very own Japanese Garden in the backyard of his Dallas home. Wanting a tranquil getaway without the 45-minute drive, Maina set about hiring a landscape architect who specialized in Japanese garden design to assist with the design and the layout. June 2-8 is recognized as National Garden Week, and Maina is thrilled to share the story of his hobby to promote beautification and gardening in the community.

“I’ve visited the Fort Worth Japanese Garden for as long as I’ve lived in Dallas, and my visits always bring me peace, tranquility and serenity,” said Maina. “When I first started gardening, I simply wanted to enhance the look of my first Dallas home with some new trees and shrubs. When I moved into the next house, I was inspired to redo the landscaping in a Japanese style, as I had fallen in love with it after visiting Japanese gardens and seeing them in books. I was a librarian before I retired, so my nature drove me to learn about gardening and landscaping through books. I am a self-taught gardener so I enlisted the help of landscape architects to help me determine the layout of my Japanese gardens. Deciding where everything should go is the most challenging part. It takes a lot of creativity, as you have to try and visualize what it will all look like when you are done.”

In his first Japanese garden, Maina brought in Japanese stone lanterns and large boulders. He created a dry creek bed with a stone bridge over it and added areas with gravel to make it more interesting. When he moved into PVN (a senior living community in Dallas) three-and-a-half years ago, he brought his Japanese garden with him. This time, he brought on a new Japanese landscape designer to assist with the layout once again.

“I was fortunate to get a patio home with a view of the green belt, a dry creek bed and a walking path,” said Maina. “The landscaper helped me move my lanterns, boulders and polished river rocks from the old house into the backyard of my new home. We spent much time determining where everything should go in the new space and what we should add to it. We brought in an antique Chinese mile marker, a pagoda and Mexican beach pebbles. With his assistance, I added four Japanese maples in the back patio area and two in the front. Coincidentally the previous occupants of my home also enjoyed Japanese gardening, so there was already a Japanese maple on the side of the house, some yaupon hollies and a sprinkler system.”

In addition, Maina added Aztec grass, Japanese holly ferns, dwarf ginkgo trees, small metal lanterns, a red boulder, some flagstone around the patio, and he finished it off with Chinese garden stools. He even added some maple trees on the green belt to make the area more visually interesting. Though the landscape architect played an integral part in the process, Maina has changed a few things and filled in vacant spaces. He went on to design the front yard on his own. He selected plants that look good year-round.

“A principle of Japanese garden design is that people should be able to enjoy the garden from inside the house,” said Maina. “In my home, I have three big picture windows that look out onto my garden. Everything in the garden was designed to be viewed from inside my home so that I get a good views as I move through the house. I love being able to look out at nature, as it brings me peace.”

Maina drew much of his inspiration for his garden from books, the Japanese Gardens in Fort Worth and garden tours he has taken in various parts of the world – including Japan, England, Italy, British Columbia (Canada) and Seattle.

“Bill’s yards are an incredible sight to behold, and we are thrilled that he has invested his passion into his home in the Presbyterian Village North community,” said Bryan Cooper, executive director of Presbyterian Village North. “Research shows that viewing nature has positive effects on mental well-being, like easing stress and bringing a sense of tranquility. For those who don’t have patio homes, we work diligently to make sure the entire 66-acre campus is beautiful for all who observe it, from both inside and outside.”