Matt grew up playing in the forests of the Northeastern United States. His first exposure to gardening was from his dad, an avid gardener. To this day, Matt has a deep love and connection to nature thanks to that early exposure.
Matt was exposed to Zen Buddhism and Taoism while studing world religions in the 1980's and '90's. He found many of its concepts rang true with his interest in nature, gardening, and peaceful meditation and contemplation of the outdoors.
It didn't take Matt long to realize the corporate business world and his independent nature were not a good fit. Over the years, he's put his two business degress from NYU to good use by starting and maintaining several businesses.
Matt has worked in the landscaping business for 15+ years. He believes if people could re-connect with nature daily, our world would be a much more sane, peaceful place. Matt believes in an all organic, natural approach to all gardening whenever possible.
He's been the owner and General Manager of Arizona Zenscapes since 2002. In his free time, he enjoys supporting his son's college baseball efforts, spending time in nature, music & dancing.
Rod McKenna-Johnson, is our resident artist professionally trained Japanese gardener. Rod has 30+ years experience in lanscape and design. He's a Licensed Landscape Artist and Craftsman.
Rod's life-long interest in oriental art, thought, and philosophy began when he started Martial Arts training at age 10.
An artist his whole life, upon graduating high school, Rod turned down several art scholarships to join the U.S. Army's Special Forces unit. His area of specialty? Southeast Asia, of course.
Rod's tour-of-duty afforded him many opportunities to immerse himself in Eastern culture. After his military service ended, and six years of college, he spent several years in various artistic careers.
In 1980, while visiting the Huntington Gardens in California, he was bit by bonsai bug.
Regarding bonsai, Rod says, "Drawing has two dimensions: height and width, with the illusion of depth. Sculpting has height, width and depth, but is static. Bonsai has four dimensions: height, width, depth and life. Its an art that is never done."
Training in bonsai led to his discovery that many of his teachers were, by profession, Japanese gardeners. One thing led to another, and soon his passion for art and oriental culture fused together on a much larger scale. Rod says, "Japanese gardens are in many ways saikei bonsai (miniature landscapes) on a much larger pallet."
Rod is a member of the International Society of Japanese Gardeners, and Vice President of the Tucson Bonsai Society.
While still doing art in many different medias, he finds sculpting beautiful living landscapes the most rewarding. In his free time, Rod cultivates Zen gardens.