Tag Archives: Japanese Gardens

Kaiyu-shiki, a place to be…

In the heart of London amidst the fast paced lifestyle that just goes with living in a major city, a haven of tranquillity sits on the roof of a house of healing. The Great Ormond Street Hospital in the Bloomsbury district of London offers patients and others who happen to discover this contemplation garden the opportunity to take a quiet break and relax. It is called the “Bridge Over Mountain Stream” garden.

Visitors do not enter the garden, but rather explore the dry landscaped Karesausui style garden from benches outside the area. The garden gives the impression of a stream flowing from the mountains down to a pool on a lower level. A path of stepping stones leads the eye back up to the mountain, with stone lanterns helping to guide the way

Another roof top Karesausui style Japanese garden was built in 2001 at the School of Oriental and African Studies. The Kanji character for forgiveness is carved into the garden’s granite water basin. The garden uses sandstone rectangles, free form pieces of green slate, silver gray granite chippings that are raked to represent water and slabs of basaltic rock representing a bridge over the water feature. Larvikite stones from Norway represent islands. This garden is located in Russell Square in London and is frequently used as a backdrop for receptions, small plays and for weddings.

Leave it to the Irish to combine their love of horses with their appreciation of lovely gardens. At the Irish National Stud in Tully, County Kildare, a Japanese Garden created between 1906 and 1910 now has the distinction of being the finest in all of Europe.

Designed by the father and son team of Eida and Minoru, the gardens represent the “Life of Man” from birth to death and the possibilities that life offers along that journey. This is a kaiyu-shiki, or strolling garden. Pathways lead over a curved, bright red Japanese bridge, naturally formed stepping stones, and past stone lanterns and quiet ponds filled with water lilies. An authentic Japanese tea house is on site. In one quiet nook a waterfall cascades over small steps of stones, half hidden amongst branches of evergreens and bright reddish-purple sprays of colour from Japanese Maples.

Another unexpected find is on the Powerscourt Estate in Enniskerry, County Wicklow. In 1908 a Japanese garden was added, sitting just south of the Triton pond of the original estate gardens. Laid out on what was once bog land, this garden features pathways past a pagoda, stone lanterns and over several bridges as it winds back and forth over a babbling brook. The garden is laid out in two circles, the inner one asks that we reflect upon our inner selves and the outer one encourages discovery of the world we live in. The gardens feature Japanese Maples, Chinese Fortune Palms and azaleas.

Sculpting a Japanese Garden

There is something extraordinary about Japanese gardening, in part because of the tranquil and healing environment that it provides.   It’s a place for deep thought, a peace offering in its own respect.  Experience in gardening of a different culture will bring your creativity to another level.  It must be understood from the beginning that growing a Japanese garden takes patience.  It is planted with a good deal of space between each dweller, allowing the foliage to make individual statements.

Choose a location and size for your Japanese garden, any dimension can be beautiful.   An out-of-the- way place would be ideal, but at the same time you don’t want it hidden.  It’s gratifying to admire a garden from afar.  This type of agriculture is indeed an artistic notion, visualize your desired objective.  Texture brings a natural quality to the garden.  Small sculpted hills and low-lying areas will be home to your special vegetation, interesting boulders offer a hint of the East.  One gift of Japanese gardening is that it is meant to be simple.

The focal point of a Japanese garden is prevalently a flowing water display.  It isn’t crucial, but water certainly is a good start to pleasant auras.  This doesn’t mean you have to dig a huge pond, or go in debt with an extravagant fountain.  There are affordable small scale displays available to fit most budgets.  However, the source should be a rather quiet exhibition or it will defeat the purpose.  The water feature can be surrounded by sand and river pebbles to create an island effect.  A Japanese garden must have a continuous vision, not a sectioned appearance.

Bamboo and exotic honeysuckles play a major role in the gardens of Japan, but are highly invasive and nixed in many parts of the world.  A border of ornamental grasses will deliver the same effect and won’t take over your garden.  Everything that is planted must be kept manicured to maintain the petite Japanese characteristic.  To utilize the art of bonsai, plant the flora in shallow trays or pots before lowering them into the ground.

Choose a couple of trees, bushes, grasses, and groundcovers that add interest because of their different heights.  Below are some varieties that capture the orient and thrive under specific growing conditions.  These are hardy plants that can withstand the bonsai tactics used in your Japanese Garden.

Planting Zones   5 – 6 – 7

Japanese Sweet Flag
Northern Light Grass
Trompenburg Japanese Maple
Mt. Fuji Japanese Iris
White Delight Carpet Phlox
Onyx Odyssey Double Hellebores
Japanese Painted Ghost Fern

Planting Zone 8

Japanese Sweet Flag
Northern Lights Grass
Tromenburg Japanese Maple
Japanese Holly Fern
Shogun Japanese Iris
Geranium Expresso

Planting Zones   9 — 10

Japanese Sweet Flag
Pink Pampas Grass
Dwarf Escarpment Cherry
Watsonia Snow Bell
Japanese Holly Fern
Silvery Sun proof Variegated Liriope
Apricot Princess Rose

These are just a few suggestions, the possibilities are abundant.  Tea plants, ficus, water lilies, moss, and dahlia are a few more prospects.  A bench and an attractive statue may help your project look complete.  Japanese gardening is a way of expressing yourself, please enjoy your journey.