Ramon's created a slice of Japan in the Netherlands

Ramon Smit posted some photos of his garden on my Facebook page just a week before we left on our trip, and I was surprised to discover that his beautiful garden is in Gouda (apparently pronounced GOW-dah, not GOO-dah), which would be on our path from Bruges back to Amsterdam. I send a quick message to Jeff Calton (I remembered that they're good internet friends), asking if he thought I should contact him (I can be irrationally shy sometimes. Weird, I know.) Jeff said "YES!"

Ramon was game for a visit, so, after leaving Bruges, we made our way there. Ramon and his wonderful girlfriend Barbera invited us in, led us through their adorable house, and out the back and across the alley to Ramon's masterpiece on the canal. It was stunning. Barbera says that Ramon had this garden planned practically to the last stone before they even finalized the purchase of the house. His years of studies on Japanese gardens have paid off, obviously. We took oodles of photos, lounged on their patio, and talked forever. Ramon even shared his award winning bonsais with me. 

They ended up having to feed us (Thanks, Barbera, for the last minute meal!) before we could drag ourselves away, and we made it back to Amsterdam to return our rental car that night with just 5 minutes to spare. Yikes! But it was so much fun, and the garden was so beautiful and relaxing.

I asked Ramon for some back story on his garden, and he sent me THIS ARTICLE. Wait til you see the before picture!

Thanks, Ramon! I hope we can host you one day.