Elegant and distinctive, Japanese gardens are carefully designed to promote feelings of calm and contemplation, making them a delightful style to re-create in a home garden.
Use wisteria to smother any garden structure with spring blossoms, or train it to grow as a shrub or even a bonsai.
The waterfall is straight out of Mother Nature’s handbook. It’s fringed by a bamboo grove and clusters of deep-pink water iris.
Carved granite lanterns add authentic charm. Their design is inspired by the lighthouses guarding Japan’s rocky shoreline.
Cherry blossoms (Prunus serrulata cultivars) are signature blooms in Japanese garden designs. But if you only have limited space, consider planting a standard weeping form.
Zen or dry landscape gardens often represent scenes from nature – here the rocks are a mountainous coastline with sweeping white gravel waves crashing below. The pattern of the gravel is maintained by regular raking.
The glorious Ju Raku En garden opened in 1989, within the campus grounds of the University of Southern Queensland. Sprawling over an area of three hectares, it took its Japanese designer three years to plan, and today it’s considered the most complex and authentically designed of all Australia’s large-scale Japanese landscapes.
The luxury of its spacious site has allowed for the inclusion of many classic features, such as an extensive lake with three islands, a stream and waterfall, arching wooden bridges, a hill of azaleas, carefully placed rock features and stone sculptures, and a traditional zen (or dry) garden of raked gravel.
One of the most striking features of Japanese landscape design is the way in which all the elements fit together and become a work of art. From the subtle use of plant colour to punctuate seasons, to the sculpture-like placement of natural rocks, miniaturisation in the form of topiary, and the clever use of perspective, visitors to the garden are treated to constantly changing views all year round.
If you want to create a Japanese-inspired garden of your own, incorporate these classic elements to capture the look:
• White quartz gravel, raked into sweeping curves
• Japanese stone lanterns
• Japanese maple trees
• Bamboo screens
• Clipped azaleas
• Naturally placed rocks
• Stone water bowl
• Low-growing grasses, such as carex or mondo grass
• Japanese black pine (Pinus thunbergii)
• Blossoming cherry trees