The basics of Japanese Gardening

Tips for creating a beautiful garden

The main principles of garden design

These are the steps to bring the Japanese spirit into your garden. The ideal of nature is the first thing to do. This means that you should keep your garden natural and avoid adding things that might disrupt its natural appearance.

Square ponds, for example, should not be included in your design. They are rare in nature. A waterfall is also closer to nature than a fountain. Sumi, or balance, is a Japanese concept. Because Japanese gardening design aims to create large landscapes in even the smallest spaces. You don’t want your ten-by-ten yard garden to be filled with large rocks.

The garden’s rocks would be miniature mountains, while the ponds would be miniature lakes. An ocean would be a space that is filled with sand. This implies that garden masters sought to be minimalistic. The best way to express this is “less is more”.

The elements of space and time

The garden’s large areas of empty space is something that westerners often notice first. These spaces are an important part of Japanese gardening. Ma, which refers to the space around it and those surrounding it, is also called Japanese gardening. These concepts, in and yo, are vital here. They are best known by the Chinese names yin or yang. You can’t have everything if you don’t have anything. Although this is difficult to grasp, it is a common rule in Japanese gardening.

The concept of wabi/sabi is an important clue to the creation of a garden. These words don’t have an English translation. Wabi refers to uniqueness or the essence of something. A literal translation would be solitary. Sabi is about the definition of time, or the ideal image of something. The closest definition could be time strengthened character. A cement lantern, while unique, might not have the ideal image. A round boulder covered in lichens or an old rock would not have the same wabi value as a round one. It is crucial to strike that balance.

Ma and wabi/sabi both refer to the concepts space and time. The garden should reflect each season’s unique character when it comes to the seasons. Japanese gardeners spend time tending to their gardens each season. This is in contrast to western gardeners who may abandon their plants in the fall only to return in spring.

The bright green of the new buds and the blooms of the Azaleas provide a very peaceful view in spring. The combination of lush foliage and the pond creates a strong, fresh image in summer. Fall’s vibrant colors are a sign of winter’s arrival and the white shroud of it.

Spring and winter are Japan’s most important gardening seasons. Japanese refer to snow that has accumulated on braches, as Sekku or snow blooms. Yukimi, also known as the snow viewing lantern, are another characteristic element of winter Japanese gardens. For Japanese gardeners, winter is a time of rest and recuperation. Spring is for western gardeners. Perhaps because the east views death as part of the cycle of life, or maybe because the west fears death.

About garden enclosures
Let’s look at the garden as a microcosm for nature. We must’set it apart from the outside world if we want the garden to be a true retreat. Japanese gardens are incomplete without gates and fences.

Both symbolism as well as functionality are represented by the fence and gates. This garden is separate from the world of daily worries and fears. The gate and fence are our barriers to the outside world. They allow us to leave behind all of our worries and prepare us for the real world.

The concept of hide/reveal, or Miegakure, is the basis for fences. The fence styles are simple and can be combined with screen planting. This gives no clues as to what is inside. If you have a garden, you can show a glimpse of it by making a small window in the wall that surrounds it. Sode-gaki (or sleeve fencing) are attached to an architectural structure and will show only a particular view of the garden. We are invited to go into the garden and take in its beauty. This is how you truly understand the garden. It’s where we lose our sense of time.