12 secrets of authenticity for a corner in the spirit of the Japanese garden
Japanese gardens are fascinating at first sight. Filled with harmony, using silhouettes and textures along with zoning, they radiate peace and tranquility, but they are never boring. It is not surprising that the idyllic Japanese landscapes inspire many to create, if not the whole garden, then at least a separate zone and corner in the Japanese style of landscape design. But if you repeat the motives quite simply, then you can’t always recreate the same atmosphere and the same illusion of perfection.
The difference in climatic conditions and a limited set of “authentic” plants inevitably affect the design. But in Japanese style, the main thing is not accuracy, but mood, harmony and peace. And it is precisely on them that one needs to be guided in creating their own corner for thought and meditation or relaxation in the Japanese style. And professional tricks will help to achieve the goal without much effort.
As in any narrow style of landscape design, the Japanese garden has its own strict criteria for arrangement and design, which is undesirable to deviate from. A special, unique atmosphere of such a garden is created, first of all, by a limited, narrowly defined toolbox: materials, plants, permissible combinations and silhouettes in the Japanese style are strictly stipulated. And typical motives, or “plots” for a garden, from simple patterns turn into design rules.
Creating even a small corner of meditation while maintaining the authentic atmosphere of the Japanese style is not easy. After all, this is not the course of landscape design in which one can only imitate: "fakes", imitations and superficial attitude are recognized immediately. Even the slightest deviations from the philosophical foundations of the Japanese garden can lead to the loss of a special mood and harmony.
Particularly difficult to create a Japanese garden seems to be where winters are harsh and plants typical of Japan itself simply do not grow. But if magnolia or tropical exotics do not live in your garden, this does not mean that you cannot recreate a corner of Japan on your site. The main thing is to correctly approach the selection of plants according to their picturesqueness, watercolors, the beauty of silhouettes and the palette of colors. With materials, everything is much simpler: you can create beautiful objects from local rocks.
This style has its own canons, and its secrets. We’ll take a closer look at the 12 main “secrets” of the Japanese garden, which will help to avoid mistakes in the design of a corner in the Japanese style on your own site.
Secret 1. Be inspired by nature
The Japanese Garden glorifies the harmony of nature and its beauty. And in the design of the garden are always natural landscapes. In search of inspiration for arranging a Japanese-style corner for your garden, turn to the natural landscapes of this distant and such a beautiful country. Hilly terrain, natural combinations of domed, picturesque silhouettes of shrubs and trees with water bodies, stones and moss - these are the "basics" that you should start from in your search for ideas.
The characteristic features of the Japanese style are determined by the relationship of plants, stones, water and moss. And you must use each of these elements in such a way as to create the illusion of natural beauty and authenticity. Stones should "grow" into the ground, "shrubs should sparkle against the backdrop of large boulders. And if you remember their symbiosis and try to repeat the motives inherent in the nature of Japan, you will never be mistaken. Create miniature landscapes, inspired either by the beauty of the ponds or by the mountain landscapes and notice the ratio of silhouettes, shapes and sizes.
Secret 2. No continuous flowering
If you want to achieve authenticity in the design of Japanese corners, then first of all, forget about the most fashionable and almost obligatory principle of gardening - the flowering relay, thanks to which there is not even a day in the gardens when at least one plant did not bloom, each of the seasons is the same beautiful and lush. In the Japanese garden, the opposite is true: you must emphasize the beauty of each season and its character, clearly separating the stages of flowering and changing the appearance of the landscape according to the time of year.
The main flowering season should be in the spring. Magnolias, azaleas, peonies - these are the main stars of a colorful garden filled with color spots. In summer, water lilies and rare piece accents should bloom in the Japanese kindergarten: peace, tranquility of the green color, presented in all its diversity, affects this hot season more strongly than any plentifully blooming accents.
The second “explosion” of color, and perhaps the most unforgettable, should be planned for the fall: when the leaves of plants with matchless silhouettes of shrubs turn into bright colors, the garden will burst into flames and purplish, the picturesqueness incorporated into it will open. But do not think that at least in winter the Japanese garden may be "empty." It is with an eye on the coldest time of the year that plants with beautiful silhouettes and bizarre shapes are so strictly selected, stones are used so carefully. When the first snow sprinkles the branches, the Japanese garden will reveal its structural harmony.
Secret 3. Become a Tree Fan
The importance of Japanese-style landscaping cannot be overestimated. And the point is not only that the veneration of trees is part of the local religion. They really have a special relationship: the usual structuring role of major accents is complemented by the function of the semantic center of even a small corner and the status of the main pride of the compositions. In such a garden, trees should look natural, just as they would in nature (even though sometimes it is necessary to work tirelessly for this). Curved and inclined by time and winds, picturesque and unique in silhouette, “layered” and tiered, landscape views of trees here are more appropriate than trimmed and strict.
Using woody decorations, do not forget about plants typical of Japanese gardens, the variety of species and varieties of which will allow you to find a variety and species suitable for any climate. In a Japanese-style corner, the following are appropriate:
- the most famous inhabitant of the Japanese garden is a pine, a symbol of growth and life, beautiful both in dwarf forms and in majestic giant species;
- Sakura, unique in its picturesqueness, is a Japanese decorative cherry whose flowering has become a symbol of Japan;
- Magnificent and variable kings of autumn maples.
Secret 4. Colored spots of flowering shrubs
The Japanese style does not require the planting of dozens of different flowering plants. It is better to choose 1-2, but very catchy shrubs, the beauty and abundance of flowering of which everyone will say for themselves. Of all the flowering plants that can be used in the design of corners and zones in the Japanese style, shrubs should always be preferred. And choosing a specific plant, it is better to focus on spring flowering and bright color: at the peak of flowering, the shrub should turn into a solid color spot or surprise with large, unusually beautiful flowers of enormous size.
The absolute favorites of the Japanese style:
- rhododendrons of all sizes and species, the beauty of which cannot be overshadowed, and which are the standard of performance among garden shrubs;
- tree-shaped peonies with gigantic and amazingly watercolor flowers, in which even the stamens are especially picturesque;
- Forsythia in trimmed form, giving the landscape grace and naturalness, conquering with an early spring scattering of dazzling yellow star flowers;
- blooming magnolias, which even in a tubular form are a spectacle of extraordinary beauty;
- picturesque, with elongated silhouettes and elegant contours of the irga, which not only blooms beautifully, but also gives a shadow, without visually overtightening even the smallest corner for relaxation;
- picturesque pieris Japanese, in which the beauty of flowering can compete with the spectacular leaves;
- evergreen laurel cherry with its spectacular green crown, beautiful and without formation;
- hydrangeas with their very large inflorescences-caps.
If there is not enough space, full-fledged shrubs can always be replaced by dexterous vines that easily fill a bamboo fence - for example, honeysuckle or wisteria, the flowering of which will turn into yet another unforgettable “touch” of the Japanese spring.
Secret 5. Do not be afraid of water
Water is the same basic element of the Japanese style as plants with stones. Imagine a Japanese garden without a picturesque pond that gives the garden special expressiveness and charm, fills landscapes with life and emphasizes the atmosphere of peace and tranquility. Ponds, waterfalls, streams literally breathe harmony and peace, and the beauty of the water surface with leaves of water lilies floating on it, stone banks densely overgrown with plants and shrubs framing the pond is impossible not to admire for hours.
Of course, if you design the whole plot in the spirit of a Japanese garden, you can afford to experiment with ponds of any type and size. But if you equip only one Japanese corner, especially if you just recreate a rock garden or a terrace, then water objects seem impossible. But water is not only possible, but also necessary to use even in such exceptional circumstances. Mobile ponds, mini-ponds, indoor and indoor fountains will bring the water element anywhere.
Moreover, making a mobile pond is more than easy, it does not require such care and effort as a full-fledged pond. And in it you can always grow even exotic plants inaccessible in your area - for example, a star of authentic Japanese gardens - a lotus. And if there is no desire to tinker with plants - just set up stone wells or bowls and fill them with water (the original tsukubai - stone tanks for ritual washing of hands are especially good). Water can also be imitated by glades covered with gravel or sand: a rake treatment that leaves waves on the surface imitates a wavy smooth surface in a rock garden.
Secret 6. Moss and soil protectors in the company of selected perennials
In the Japanese garden, green lawns play a very important role. But traditional lawn grasses have no place here. They need to be replaced either with moss, or groundcover protectors more suitable for our conditions - waldstein, acene, which look no less impressive. In Japanese gardens, they also like to use periwinkle with its winter-green foliage. A fern leaflet and pachisander form a truly fabulous carpet that connects stones with soft transitions.
With perennials, the Japanese garden is not so simple. Water species of irises and cereals can be used at your own discretion in the design of water objects, if only they would not violate the integrity of the image and balance. But as an addition to stones, boulders, shrubs and woody perennials literally use “piecewise”, relying either on natural beauty, “wild” effect, or on catchy foliage. Forget-me-nots, incense, hosta, fescue, primrose, Japanese irises will fit into a corner in the Japanese style.
Secret 7. Stone magic
Imitating nature, starting from ponds and streams in the structure of the landscape, the Japanese garden offers stones to be an indispensable part of the design and landscaping. The main thing for the Japanese style is simplicity, naturalness of forms and lines. For a corner in the spirit of the Land of the Rising Sun use only natural and unprocessed stone. Strange, unusual, with different colors and textures stones should be used along with fine decorative stone soil, coarse sand and gravel. Flat stones for step-by-step paths, river pebbles, huge boulders and a smaller placer of stones should form the structural basis of the compositions and fill all the free space remaining from the plants. There should be at least twice as many stones in any object decorated in the Japanese style as plants.
And remember the symbolic filling of compositions that turn all stone elements into something more. Large boulders - a symbol of rocks, middle stones buried in the ground - washed by the water of the island. And a surface covered with gravel or stone chips imitates water.
Secret 8. Symbols and contrasts
In order to recreate the peace prevailing in Japanese gardens, the balance of an amazing game of a wealth of colors and shapes with restrained coldness and detachment of the principles of arrangement, it is necessary to always be guided by the two main principles of design - the obligation of contrasts and symbolic content. In the corner decorated in the Japanese style, it is appropriate to use only those decorative elements and accessories that are symbolic. And plants and stones should contrast with each other: literally for each object there should be its own "counterweight".
Secret 9. Flooring and Mats
For paving platforms, decorating the terrace, creating places for tea or meditation in the Japanese garden do not use stone or other coatings. Stones and stone chips are full-fledged “participants” in landscape combinations. And for paving, they must be replaced with a practical, but contrasting in nature, wooden platform. Wooden platforms are comfortable, warm, and surprisingly well complement both plants and rock. And to add authenticity, stock up with straw mats and reed mats that you can lay on wooden platforms.
Secret 10. Using small architecture
No matter how carefully you choose plants, you can’t do without accents and decorative elements. The use of at least one architectural element plays a crucial role in restoring the authentic atmosphere of the Japanese garden - and it does not matter whether it will be a full-fledged functional object or its imitation, sculpture or decor.
Typical landscapes of Japan cannot be imagined without stone lanterns, pagodas or tea houses, red wooden bridges thrown across a pond. And if in a small corner the construction of full-fledged functional objects is inappropriate, then small sculptures repeating their silhouettes, decorative bridges and pagodas will always fit into the image. The most universal option is a stone lantern, which is appropriate both on the terrace, in the rock garden, and at the pond.
Secret 11. Bamboo is good in any form.
It is impossible to imagine a Japanese-style decoration without bamboo in almost the same way as without stones. Aggressive, but such a beautiful bamboo growing in the garden is still a dream for the inhabitants of regions with severe winters, even if winter-hardy low species begin to gain great popularity today. But on the other hand, bamboos growing in tubs can be used more actively, placing them not only on a terrace or resting area, but also adding to the plants planted in the soil as accents.
But bamboo will be appropriate in your corner in the Japanese style, not only in a "lively" form: a variety of accessories, decor and household items from bamboo play an equally important style-forming role. A bamboo bucket, mat, wattle or fence, bollards, wind music, bamboo stems or a drain used as a support - there are many options. Be sure to enter at least one bamboo element in the design of your corner - and you will immediately feel how much more expressive the stylistic content has become.
Secret 12. Constant attention
To create a harmonious corner in the Japanese style, in which harmony and atmosphericity reign, every minute in which will seem to transport you in time and space, it is necessary to provide untiring care to plants and decoration as a whole. Japanese style requires relentless attention. Tying and trimming, maintaining an impeccable shape, clean lines and impeccable condition of stone dumps and ponds, removing fading flowers and dry leaves requires considerable work. Without which, all efforts will easily spoil neglect.