Traditional Japanese gardens are steeped in culture and carry a lot of purpose and meaning in their design. With a few key influences, they can be easily be recreated in your own back garden.
Less is More
With Japanese inspired gardens, it can be tempting to clutter the space with plants and oriental ornaments. That is actually the opposite of how it’s supposed to be. Japanese gardens are sparsely planted and the spaces around the plants are much more important than the plants themselves. Great for those of you who aren’t confident with planting.
This a Japanese concept with means ‘imperfect beauty’. The wabi sabi aesthetic grew out of Buddhist philosophy in Japan and involves an appreciation for the forms and changes of natural landscapes. A garden based around wabi sabi incorporates natural and man made elements in a way that allows visitors to appreciate their humble and imperfect forms and the acceptance of the natural cycle of growth, decay and death. The key here is balancing nature and nurture, so sit back, relax and reflect on the beauty of your garden’s natural imperfections. Overgrown perennials, moss-covered stones, rusty iron gates and weathered pots are suddenly bang on-trend, embrace it and you are half way there!
Minimal Structural Design
As well as a lack of plants, the hard landscaping is kept minimal also. That means lots of difficult kinds of materials are avoided and the type of materials chosen are usually more natural in appearance. The garden should be given a simple, structural backbone. Avoid straight lines and symmetry as seen in some formal styles. Go for something far more organic and uncluttered. Gravel in Japanese garden is a key. Zen gardens include raked gravel around rocks to represent land and sea, the lines created by raking the gravel implies ripples in water. Gravel also means maintenance is next to none!
While plants aren’t the main feature in some Japanese gardens, there are a few specimen shrubs and plants that are synonymous with the style. Japanese maples are one of those choices. Red acers compliment the muted tones of the hard landscaping and bring vibrant but minimal colour into the space. Paired with lush green shrubs such as Fatsia and Pittosporum ‘Nanum,’ they’ll really pop. For smaller plants, choose Hostas and Hellebores. The idea is to create a lush and abundant background of leaves and structure. Japanese gardens often showcase the different shades of green and moss is used to represent miniature forests. Simplistic design with very powerful connotations.