The Modern Japanese Garden
By Bill Doane
The modern Japanese garden will only contain things that occur in nature. Japanese gardens offer a tranquil setting for relaxation and meditation. Elements of Japanese gardens include stones, water, plants, ornaments, borrowed scenery, and architecture. Elements for the garden will be in the proper scale; there will be no huge boulders placed in a tiny garden area.
The first element placed in the garden will usually be the stones. The stones are the main element of the garden. They are usually positioned in odd numbers and are grouped together in triangular shapes or randomly. They can be used for stepping stones or for viewing. Stones can be arranged to emphasize a faraway mountain or a nearby tree. The pathways that the stepping stones form represent a person's journey through life. The stones can be placed so that the person will slow down as they travel through the garden. Stones can be used to represent mountains or islands and to express the human emotions of strength and endurance.
Water features are an important element of a Japanese garden. Water symbolizes purity. The water features in the garden will appear to flow naturally as in streams or waterfalls or will be in ponds but not in fountains. Raked gravel is sometimes used to represent water.
There are many different Japanese garden styles. These include a Zen garden or dry garden, Japanese tea garden, a stroll garden, courtyard garden, and pond and island style.
In Japanese gardens, stone lanterns are often placed near a pond or a stream to represent the female and male elements of water and fire. This is known as yin and yang in Japanese tradition.
Japanese gardens will have empty spaces, and there will be no crowded spaces. The gardens will usually be enclosed with natural fencing and a gate or gates. The Japanese garden is always a work in progress and will never be completed. Asymmetry is another element of these gardens. There will be no straight lines or rows.
Flowers and colorful foliage are sparingly used to signify changing seasons in the Japanese garden. The flowering plants used are usually cherry or plum trees, azaleas, peonies, and chrysanthemums. Other plants commonly used include bamboo, moss, Japanese maples, and evergreens, such as Japanese black pine. Some plants may be chosen not only for their flowers but perhaps because of the attractive way they look with snow on the branches, raindrops on the stems, or sun shining through the leaves. Nothing unsightly should be used in the garden.
Bill Doane is a regular contributor to modern-japanese-gardens.com and is currently landscaping his gardens. Visit Modern Japanese Gardens, Home Garden Designs, and Garden and Lawn Sprinklers where you can find information on creating a magnificent garden.
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