For three months, German writer Marion Poschmann walked around the gardens of Kyoto. She stared at gravel. She circled ponds. She wanted, she thought, to write a book about pine trees.
Take the Japanese black pine for instance, says the 49-year-old in an e-mail interview. "It is formally trimmed in a way that looks absolutely wild, so nature is formed into a picture of nature or an idea of nature."