The Simple Joys of a Japanese Garden

This image is no longer available

Capture nature in the most natural way possible, yet with artistic feeling. Here, seven sensational style ideas you can incorporate into your own outdoor space.

Influenced historically by Shinto, Buddhist and Taoist philosophies, Japanese gardens offer a quiet place for reflection and meditation.

Rock gardens in Japan have been traced back to the 5th century. Traditionally, a garden was focused on an area of the natural landscape that was changed or sculpted by the elements. Over time, it has evolved into a carefully controlled environment that maintains the balances of nature.

Constructed of rocks, sand, ponds, and greenery, punctuated by a few colourful plants such as chrysanthemums and azaleas, the garden becomes transformed into a miniature world of mountains, lakes, forests and oceans. Rocks are the main focus of attention, with flowers and greenery used to enhance the stone’s beauty.

And for busy gardeners, there is another benefit to the Japanese garden. Since the style is strictly minimalist in the amount of planting and ornamentation, you can create a serene retreat that requires little maintenance.

NEXT: Style ideas you can incorporate into your outdoor space.

• Think green. The palette of a Japanese garden consists mainly of varying shades of green, from trees to ferns to ground cover. Evergreens in various shapes and sizes often dominate the garden with the added bonus of providing colour even during winter. Visual interest is achieved from varying the heights and textures of the various plants.

• Stones are an important focal point of a Japanese garden. Used for such features as paths, bridges, walls, and naturalistic sculptures, the placement of each individual stone is determined by its unique shape, colour and form.

• Water features such as a pond or fountain are attractive and soothing. A gurgling fountain can disguise the hustle and bustle noises of a city.

• A stone lantern, the ultimate accessory for a Japanese garden, is customarily placed near a water feature. Stone lanterns were originally used in Japanese tea ceremonies and add an element ofmystique and spirituality to the garden.

• Using pebbles or small stones can provide a visually striking contrast with the greenery. When placed in a fountain, pebbles can alter the sound of the water flow.

• Bamboo is typically used for fencing or dividers to hide unattractive storage areas. Bamboo branches can be cut and placed over your existing fence.

• Make your own secret place. Create a private area of your garden you can use for a meditative retreat.