Flickr Image: jen
Even though it’s currently winter, it’s never too early to start planning your garden for next year, especially if you’ve got a bare plot of land or have just moved house. Japanese gardens are quiet, peaceful places of relaxation and meditation, drawing inspiration from painted rocks, sand, water, bamboo, flowering plants, meditation statues and bridges to create a natural, organic place of balance and symmetry. All these elements are easy to add into your existing garden, as well as a wonderful way to utilise the full potential of a smaller space, so it’s no wonder that Japanese style gardens continue to be a horticultural favourite!
Flickr Image: Ezry Abdul Rahman
Build Mysterious Paths
The Japanese are unfailingly polite, endlessly patient and incredibly hardworking and this shows particularly in the usage of winding paths, stepping stones and forest trails in their gardens. The idea here is to draw the eye past what can be seen and instead consider the path that wanders away into the distance. Why not place a small wooden or stone pagoda or statue in the middle of the pathway? That way visitors will feel intrigued by what they have discovered so far and be inspired to explore further at the same time as enjoying the various shrubs, flowers and grasses that caress the edges of the stone, or concrete blocks. Try to plant evergreen trees and shrubs that will provide colour and texture all year round, as well as emulating the creative aspect of your garden by appearing in a range of different shapes.
Flickr Image: Prayitno
It’s All About Reflection
If your garden is big enough consider adding a zig-zag bridge. Not only are these bridges very pretty but they’re supposed to bring you luck, legend says evil spirits can only walk in straight lines and hence become trapped by the bridge. Add large water features such as ornamental waterfalls, ponds, and mini streams to allow the soothing sound of water burbling to permeate your little oasis of calm as well as being a water source for any animals in the area. To give the edges of a pond texture plant ornamental grasses, willows, and papyrus that’ll rustle gently in the breeze. Fill your pond with water, add in water plants, lilies, and grasses that’ll encourage frogs and insects to investigate before adding some koi carp. Then simply place some bridgman garden furniture, or wicker chairs beside it and enjoy watching the fish explore their new home.
Flickr Image: Güldem Üstün
Pretty Pavilions And Charming Teahouses
Thanks to the ancient custom of the tea ceremony along with the honor of enjoying intricate performances by Japanese Geisha’s, private pavilions and special tea houses have long been featured in Japanese design. Instead of a barbecue pit or outdoor terrace why not construct a pavilion of bamboo or wood? Not only will your garden benefit from the inclusion of eco- friendly materials and look more natural, but pavilions are great focal points for entertaining as well as being a lovely spot to sit and read near on a summer's day. In the evenings try to dot small, storm lanterns around the paths as they'll make beautiful, glowing additions to the garden.