Japanese Gardens - a guide to creating a Japanese garden

Photo of Japanese Garden Design

Japanese gardens are often designed with quiet contemplation in mind. Tranquillity, harmony and peace are searched for in a garden made to imitate on a miniature scale the natural countryside.

Japanese garden

Carefully selected trees and shrubs, moss, rocks, pebbles and water are the main elements of a Japanese garden. Japanese gardens tend to be very green.  Foliage, form and texture tend to be of more importance than flowers. Lots of moss, trees and evergreen plants are used. Where colour is present it tends to be the blossom of cherry trees or the autumn colour of maples, a very common tree in Japanese gardens. Azaleas are also common to these gardens and so a glorious burst of colour can be expected in spring.

Water is usually present in a Japanese garden but this is always natural - no fountains, rills or raised ponds here. Ponds are made to look like miniature lakes or 'streams' are created. Sometimes the garden has no water and water is represented instead by areas of pebbles or stones, or raked gravel or sand. Areas of raked gravel with one or a few well-placed rocks has become a much-copied element of Japanese gardens.

Plants for a Japanese Garden

Tall plants for a Japanese Garden

Bamboo

Large Acers

Silver birch (Betula pendula)

Pine trees, contorted specimens particularly welcome

Medium plants for a Japanese Garden

Medium and Small Acers (Japanese Maples / Acer palmatum)

Ornamental flowering cherry trees

Azaleas and Rhododendrons

Clipped box shrubs

Pieris japonica

Wisteria

Small plants for a Japanese Garden

Moss - and lots of it!

Ornamental grasses and dwarf bamboos

Hostas

Iris

Examples of Japanese Gardens in France

Park Oriental de Maulevrier - the largest Japanese garden in Europe and utterly beautiful. Another lovely Japanese garden is the Ille de Versailles garden in Nantes. In the South-east of France the Jardins d'Erik Borja are delightful. The Parc Floral de Haute-Bretagne in the north of France has a number of different gardens including a charming Japanese style garden.

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