In the garden of The Snow Lion

The Snow Lion, Oceanside dAlliez; Inara Pey, May 2014, on FlickrThe Snow Lion, Oceanside dAlliez (click for full size)

The roar of the Snow Lion is a call for the awakening and integration of the body and the mind.  This garden is dedicated to that perfect integration and to the resulting bliss.

Thus reads part of the description for The Snow Lion, which occupies a quarter of Oceanside dAlliez; a place of serene beauty and tranquil settings.

The design, by parcel owner Sethos Lionheart, carries a strong oriental theme – which is the reason it caught my eye when browsing the Destination Guide – and is cleverly laid-out, offering paths to explore and secluded spots to discover.

The arrival point is in the lower portion of the garden, and the motif here may not be readily apparent until you cam out a little. When you do, you’ll realise land and water have been carved into a yin-yang, the Chinese philosophical concepts used to describe how apparently opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary.

The Snow Lion, Oceanside dAlliez; Inara Pey, May 2014, on FlickrThe Snow Lion, Oceanside dAlliez (click for full size)

The cleverness of this design is easy to miss: the yin is formed by the water element – in keeping with its passive, soft, and wet characterisation and its association with water. It is rich with water lilies as it curls around the landing-point to join with the sea. The yang element, by contrast, forms a sweep of land, fully in keeping with its solid, hard character. Follow its curve, and it will lead you to a torii gate sitting before a bamboo grove and guarded by two lions. Here the path climbs upwards, passing under a stone arch before splitting left and right.

Follow the path to the right, and it will take you on around the lower part of the garden to a natural-looking pool, fed by water from falls on one side, and open to the sweep of the water “yin” on the other. A stone bridge arches over the water, offering the way to a western-style folly and a quiet place to sit.

To the left, the path runs past a stone terrace, home to a grand piano shaded by the boughs of a huge cherry blossom tree, before climbing more steps upwards to a grassy nook. Here sit cut logs on which to sit, and a harp to play, while the path passes onward  to come before the stone figure of The Wise General, branching right and left before him.

The Snow Lion, Oceanside dAlliez; Inara Pey, May 2014, on FlickrThe Snow Lion, Oceanside dAlliez (click for full size)

Whichever branch you take is up to you. Follow one through the mid-level of the garden to tranquil lily pond where one can sit alone or with a friend, in quiet contemplation beneath a leafy canopy which naturally hides it from the garden above. Take the other, and it will lead you by stair and bridge to the highest level, passing another quiet glade along the way, this one presided over by a white figure of Buddha.

It is on this uppermost level that you’ll find the garden’s single building, a place of decidedly Tibetan looks, yet guarded by two Chinese Imperial lions. It offers a place to meditate or to partake of yoga or to enjoy a cup of simmering Japanese tea. A garden of wild flowers links it with a broad stone terrace, walled on both sides and watched over by the tall forms of torii gates, and which runs the length of one side of the garden.

The Snow Lion, Oceanside dAlliez; Inara Pey, May 2014, on FlickrThe Snow Lion, Oceanside dAlliez (click for full size)

Here you will find speaking scrolls made by  Sethos Lionheart, each one bearing an image of traditional design and which offer words of wisdom when touched. These can be purchased for a modest L$50 each, and would grace the wall of any home. Along this terrace, through a set of wooden gates, another place for contemplation can be found.

The garden offers many places to sit, with poses for individuals, couples and friends exploring together; discrete bird boxes offer opportunities to dance for those who would like to do so. Paper lanterns hang from the cherry trees to light the path at night,  while kimono-dressed foxes hold up lamps to illuminate terrace and folly.

The Snow Lion, Oceanside dAlliez; Inara Pey, May 2014, on FlickrThe Snow Lion, Oceanside dAlliez (click for full size)

All told, The Snow Lion is a lovely place to visit, and an attractive demonstration of yin-yang at work. These can be found in everything from the simple divisions of the path as it leads to very individual points in the garden, each with its own focus, yet still part of the whole, through the expression of the harmonious nature of high and low as you travel up and down through the different levels, to the complementary mix of cultural influences revealed as one explores: Chinese, Japanese, and western. Do make sure, as well, that you have local sounds enabled as you wander the paths and enjoy the terraces and glades.

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