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Japanese Zen Gardens

Zen Gardens represent so much of the Japanese heritage. Herbee likes to think of these wonderful gardens as a traditional custom of bringing a landscape back to nature. There are various different structures making up this wonderful Japanese landscape. The essence of of the garden is a true sense of the union between mind and nature. Bringing oneself back to natural surroundings by the use of rocks, boulders, bridges, pathways, water features, lanterns and fountains. You can create your own Zen garden using any of these materials.

In a small yard years ago, Herbee was thrilled to have his first experience in a yard done in different boulder formations. A small elderly Japanese woman, Tasha taught Herbee his first lesson in understanding the tradition of Japanese Zen gardens. Her shrubs were all evergreens and done in topiary form along with a few Bonsai. There is an art to creating and taking care of Bonsai. She also showed him the correct way to prune and shape a topiary shrub. Here are some simple steps in doing a Zen garden. You can combine all the features or take a couple and create your own Japanese paradise.

Instead of showing you pictures of eloquent Japanese gardens, Herbee would like to show you different aspects of creating your own. One can develop this garden on any type of terrain. Doing a garden on a hillside or a flat area of land. The Japanese strive on asymmetrical design. The two main ingredients are earth and water.

Rock Formations And Pathways

Water And Rock
Earth And Water
stepping stones in Japanese garden

Water can be created by a waterfall, decorative pond, or a stream. Take any size fountain or water feature and build the garden around plants and rocks. Your area doesn't have to be large. Rocks and boulders are used often in a triangle form. Think of the largest rock being at the point and a couple of smaller rocks at the ends to support the tall boulder.

A self contained garden is also popular in the Japanese tradition. A square formation with sand inside along with small stacked smooth stones. Great option for you if you have a small area. You can make this self contained garden with railroad ties or pressured treated lumber.

A pagoda is a popular feature in a Japanese Zen garden. Many times the gardener will surround the padoga with rocks, water, sand, or stones. A great look for tradition and tranquility. Stepping stones today are used in a variety of different theme base landscapes. I love the look of stepping stones placed in a landscaped area or throughout grass. A wonderful natural look and feel.

Any size rocks can be used to give the appearance of the triangle. Take a look at these pictures below and see some different shapes and also how the boulders balance each other. These are definitely bigger then you would use, but I wanted you to see the different shapes.

More Ideas Of Rock Placements

Different Shaped Boulders
Balanced Rocks

Combining the ideas of rocks and water will give you the basis of developing your garden. This does not have to be expensive.

Another idea below is to think about is making a small stream and build a bridge over it. Of course you could build or purchase a wooden bridge, but an easier way is taking a large slab of rock. Support the slab with different size smaller rocks. The support rocks will be installed on all four ends underneath to balance the slab.

Slab Bridge

Another style possible is doing dry beds in the garden. The Japanese are famous for creating beds with small decorative rocks surrounding a variety of plant specimens. Winding walkways can be installed. These walkways can be created with stepping stones or all one to three inch pebbles or stones.

White and off white and colored stones are all options in the pathways. The border of the bed or beds can be larger rocks or you can incorporated the boulders throughout the bed. We can't forget one of the most aspects of any style gardens, plant specimens.

The Japanese Zen gardens have a wide variety of evergreen and ornamental trees and shrubs. This can be done in topiary or natural form. The evergreen tree or shrubs creates a wonderful contrast in color and texture with a Japanese Maple.

Two Popular Varieties For The Zen Garden

Japanese Maple

There are many other trees, shrubs, flowers, water plants, and ground covers that can be blended throughout the garden. Below is a small list of some of the most popular

Herbee's Plant Recommendations, And Feature Company: Cook's Garden

Cook's Garden

  • False Cypress - zones five through eight.
  • Chinese Red Bed - zones four through eight.
  • Rhododendrons and Azaleas - zones three through ten.
  • Globe Arborvitae - zones three though seven.
  • Chrysanthemum - zones five through nine.
  • Peony - zones three through eight.
  • Japanese Wisteria - zones five through nine,
  • Lady Fern - zones four through nine.
  • Bearberry - zones three through seven.
  • Japanese Iris - zones four through nine.
  • Water Lily - zones three through eleven.
  • Yellow Grove Bamboo - zones five through ten.

Below is a full picture of a beautiful Japanese pond garden with the slab bridge, lantern, fish, and shrubs and Japanese Maple. Other features to consider are fences made out of bamboo. Decorative lanterns are used a lot throughout the garden and are wonderful for an evening stroll. An accessory that adds color and texture is to plant some perennials and dwarf shrubs. Another main feature is fish, especially the Koi fish. I touched base about the Koi in the pond article.

Here are a couple of pictures of Koi fish in a Japanese pond.

Japenese Zen Garden With Koi Fish

Japanese Zen Pond
Koi Fish
Colorful Koi

This garden project is possible for anyone to do. You can use your imagination and create your very own small or large Zen garden. The most important thing to realize about Japanese gardens, is to entail the two aspects of nature and the spiritual mind. Herbee hope this has enlighten you a little on just a few simple ideas and philosophies of the beautiful Zen garden. So many people today are doing their landscapes with a natural look to it. Rocks and water play such a great role in our society today. This style garden can create nature right in your own backyard.

Herbee Recommends These Related Artiles

Ponds With Water Plants And Koi Fish --- Evergreen Plants

List Of Perennial Flowers --- Other Landscape Options

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