If there is one thing that’s commonplace with homeowners, especially in the South-East of England, it is their adventurous nature regarding the décor of their gardens. It seems everyone has simultaneously agreed to take on worldly garden aesthetics. Myself included…
There are homes with gardens that are largely influenced by Mediterranean themes, by the energy traditionally found in the Tropics, the sleek elements of suburban Americana and, as we will discuss further today, the tranquility of Japanese-inspired gardens. If you keep a regular eye on the Oakleigh blog, you may remember reading this article penned only last week that discusses the elements of Japanese Garden Design, a rapidly-growing trend in the Landscape Design and Build industry. However, after bringing you that, today we have put together a more-detailed insight of the aesthetics and concepts that are embedded within.
The first step to exuding the balance and serenity that Japanese gardens traditionally are known for is to understand what makes a garden ‘Japanese’. This is particularly important if the garden in question is located far away. In the case of a Japanese Garden Design right here in the UK, two continents and an ocean separate the design and its homeland. It’s far more than a stoned pathway or a fountain in the centre of an open space. The importance of understanding the ancient ideals behind the concept commonly borrowed by Western designers.
The Japanese aesthetic is composed of the tri-harmony of wabi, which refers to transience, sabi, which means the beauty of ageing and finally yugen, which roughly translates to profound grace and subtlety. These ideals underpin all of Japanese culture and aesthetic norms.
More than a sense of beauty, however, is the philosophy with which the whole concept of aesthetics in Japan is built on. These three, with the right balance, encompass the integral part of daily life in Japan. The aforementioned three elements form the core which is essential to transform a bland garden in London to make it look like it was shipped from suburban Tokyo.
Several elements can be found in an organic Japanese garden. Organic (as the operative word) means an authenticc garden nurtured in Japan following the ideals and fundamentals the very country is founded upon. Although these elements are impossible to mimic to the letter, we’ve rounded up some ideas you can use in your garden to achieve that sought-after Oriental feel.
When it comes to stark beauty, it is hard to argue against the opinion that Japan are one of the world’s best. Evoke the right aura by using a simple bamboo fence to block views from the world outside. Balance the structure of enclosures with the beauty of nature when thinking about your gate. Avoid your entrance from looking too forbidding and too enclosed.
Create a simple boundary that sets the garden apart without the gate and walls being too harsh and artificial, as key fundamental in Japanese Garden Design is natural tranquility. Bamboo, as set out above, is an obvious and popular choice for fencing material, but wooden fences that can be softened by subtle planting schemes are also encouraged.
A key element observed in the most Japanese garden is that of mystery. Create a winding pathway that leads from the simple gate to the heart of your garden. Beckon exploration by putting in varied textures. Japanese style is all about mimicking nature. A play between stone and moss for your pathway will elegantly copy both the coldness and softness of forest floors.
Moss is the perfect ground-cover as it tends to lend a bright colour while being cushiony. However, it doesn’t tolerate foot traffic well, which makes stone steppers a necessary and welcome touch to allow passage without any damage caused, all the while maintaining beauty.
When trying to evoke grace and subtlety, rely on the slight differences in colour and texture. With trees, choose varieties with low, spreading branches, as well as evergreens that provide year-round interest. Japanese blood grass and fern weave a stunning tapestry that doesn’t look too manicured. A significant Japanese philosophy revolves around imperfection, so choose plants that require little attention but provide sufficient visual sensibility.
Not only this, the Japanese maple is a staple in gardens in this style for a reason. It offers architectural form when pruned while transgressing order with its visually-interesting zigzag branching pattern. Consider, also, the use of conifers for soothing shades or green hostas to provide a soft contrast.
Liquid or solid: it’s your choice.
You can choose to build and island getaway, a simple foundation or a beautiful aquarium or pond to house colourful koi, an ornamental fish particularly kept for decorative purposes in outdoor ponds. Moreover, the sound o the flowing water adds to the soothing nature of Japanese gardens.
On the other hand, you can have a pavilion built. Japanese aesthetics is a celebration of the Buddhist tradition. Within this concept, all things are dissolving into nothingness. However, as opposed to being an empty space, this ‘nothingness’ is a space full of potential. Echo the dynamic of nature, space and reflection with a structure in the middle of your garden. We can help you create an intimate space in your garden for entertaining or viewing the landscape: just visit our Oak Framed Garden Rooms webpage. Nature is seen as a dynamic whole that is to be admired and appreciated.
According to old Japanese legends, zigzag bridges in gardens offer protection against evil spirits. The myth says these spirits are only capable of travelling in straight lines.
What is beautiful in Japan is refined and natural. But more than all these ideals on elegance is the intentionality behind each and every element. The gate sets the garden apart as a microcosm of a different world. The pavilion serves as a spot for introspection.
When building your Japanese garden, each element must serve a purpose, from the moss on the pathway to the bamboo enforcing enclosure and structure, it’s all a balancing act. As a culture that relies on the sensibility of stark beauty, you don’t actually need much within a Japanese Garden Design; you just need to make serenity meet with diverse tastes.
Should you need help with the elements you want to put around your Japanese-themes garden, we can help. Oakleigh Manor offers a mindful approach to gardens. We carry out beautiful and bespoke landscaping projects in Kent, London, Essex, Surrey and Sussex.
Oakleigh Manor Limited are a multi-disciplinary company specialising in providing all outdoor needs under one roof, for all size and styles of external spaces. Our expertise has led us to numerous national awards, but what fuels us every day is the ethos we adopt: to create unique, bespoke projects. You can see perfect examples of these by looking at our Garden Maintenance webpage.
Photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/pavdw/14604140480/”>Me in ME</a> / <a href=”http://foter.com/”>Foter.com</a> / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>CC BY</a>
Photo credit: EEngler / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA
This article was written by Lewis