Maples (Acers) provide glorious autumn colour in this Japanese style garden

Maples (Acers) provide glorious autumn colour in this Japanese style garden

Today’s ‘snippet’ on different garden styles focuses on a very distinctive form, ‘Japanese Gardens’.

Japanese gardens have a balance which is achieved through the careful placing of objects and plants of various sizes, forms and textures. These are placed asymmetrically around the garden and are often used in contrast – rough and smooth, vertical and horizontal, hard and soft. These gardens often create miniature idealized landscapes, frequently in a highly abstract and stylised way. Pruning and garden layout are usually considered to be more important than the plants themselves which are used sparingly and with restricted use of both different species and colours.

Historically, there are four distinctive types of Japanese garden:

  1. Rock Gardens (karesansui) or Zen Gardens, which are meditation gardens where white sand replaces water

  2. Simple, rustic gardens (roji)  with tea houses where the Japanese Tea ceremony is conducted

  3. Promenade or Stroll Gardens (kaiyū-shiki-teien), where the visitor follows a path around the garden to see carefully composed landscapes

  4. Courtyard Gardens (tsubo-niwa)

Other key features of Japanese Gardens include:

  • Typical Japanese plants – e.g. Azalea, Camellia, Bamboo, Cherry (blossom), Chrysanthemum, Fatsia japonica, Irises, Japanese Quince and Plum, Maples, Lotus, Peony, Wisteria and moss, used as ground/stone cover

  • Water features and pools

  • Symbolic ornaments

  • Gravel and rocks

  • Bamboo fencing

  • Stepping stones

 

Bonsai- literally meaning ‘plantings in tray’ – is a Japanese art form using miniature trees grown in containers. The purposes of bonsai are primarily contemplation (for the viewer) and the pleasant exercise of effort and ingenuity (for the grower). Bonsai is not intended for food production, medicine, or for creating domestic or park-size gardens or landscapes, though some people display their bonsai specimens in garden settings, as this video shows.

Let me know what you think makes a Japanese style garden, and if you have some pictures I’d love to see them!

Further information:

Wikipedia – Japanese Gardens

Pictures of popular Japanese plants

Japanese plants

Japanese Garden Database

Japanese Garden history etc.

Wikipedia- Bonsai

Other posts in the series:

Country Gardens

Modernist Gardens

Formal Gardens

Mediterranean Gardens

Cottage gardens

Old School Gardener

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