Wouldn’t it be nice to have a place to relax and feel peaceful – maybe even downright zen? This is exactly what happens when you create your own Japanese garden. Japanese gardens are designed as places for meditation and reflection. What began as a space for Japan’s ruling elite to find calm in the storm of their country’s unrest and wars has turned overtime into a way of life and an ingrained culture.
So it’s not hard to see why the idea of a Japanese garden would be such a beneficial export. In a world that moves fast and in a life that can be beyond stressful, having a place to relax and even find inspiration is more important than ever.
While any attempt at this type of landscape will be slightly different depending on who is creating it, the theory behind the garden should be consistent – create your own oasis of zen.
According to the curator of the Japanese Hill and Pond Garden in Brooklyn, New York, there are very few people in the world – only about 100 to 200 – who have actually created a Japanese garden in its truest form. In order for you to get as close to reality as possible, or at least take inspiration from this style, you need to first understand the basics.
The first type of Japanese garden to consider is a rock garden, which often includes the element of sand. This form contains no water element and is intended to represent a scene of mountains and rivers. Sand gravel raked into a specific pattern is said to symbolize the river, while stones placed on the sand symbolize mountains.
The next type of zen garden you can create is called a moss garden. Moss thrives in Japan’s naturally humid and rainy climate, but interestingly, moss doesn’t need a lot of rain to thrive. This means that it can easily be integrated into gardens in different regions. Moss gardens create a soft and balanced feeling meant to soothe a burdened mind and body.
It’s important to remember that while each of these gardens reflects Japanese culture, your own Japanese Zen garden can be a blend of tranquility that speaks to you. Whether you choose a rock, moss, or even a pond garden, the purpose of the garden must be clear – zen.
Stay true to the culture of a Japanese garden
If your goal is to create a true Japanese garden, staying true to the culture of that creation will require a little education. While it’s tempting to rely on stereotypes of what the garden should look like, many of these preconceptions stem from Chinese culture. Additions such as red hanging flowers and bridges covering small streams all actually come from Chinese traditions and are often confused with Japanese ones.
While many of these features have influenced Japanese gardens over time, a true replica does not contain any flashy or bright colors. Instead, monochromatic green is preferable and used as the primary palette.
When it comes to flowers, they are not excluded. It is only important to recognize their role in the garden and in your journey to zen. Flowers can be colorful, but not so colorful that they’re distracting. Above all, Japanese tradition calls for flowers to work to emphasize the green, which acts as the garden’s balancing color.
In addition, the garden design will be of crucial importance. The thought process behind such a garden is that every little detail is a symbol. The entire landscape is said to work toward the creation of zen, meaning that everything serves a purpose.