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Japanese Garden - 5 Authentic Elements, Not Plants?

Updated on May 14, 2012


I love gardens, they are a delightful adventure. They are a living growing organism, constantly evolving, giving life and honoring the expression of life! Every garden is different, unique and absolutely fascinating. They can take up a small area or cover hundreds of acres depending on what the architect wants to accomplish.

They can take a lot of energy to set up at first, from digging up the ground, to selecting the plants and doing the back breaking work of maintaining them, yet once it is done the sense of accomplishment knows no bounds.

The great things about gardens is that they contribute and enhance any environment. Yet, beyond the beauty that can be found in a garden, one can find a sense of peace and serenity. It can be accomplished in just a moment of spending time sitting. But we find it difficult to just sit. To be quiet. To spend a few moments breathing in the calm.

The sense of tranquility that can be accomplished by a few moments of quiet in a garden is amazing. It contributes to the health and well fare of anybody willing to spend the time it is necessary to count to ten.

A garden can be equated to a massage, Prozac, gentle music or a walk on the beach. The interesting thing is you can have one anywhere, as long as you include plants.

Bamboo sided seating area
Bamboo sided seating area | Source
Red bridge
Red bridge | Source
Stone Pagoda
Stone Pagoda | Source
Stone pot with pebbles and water
Stone pot with pebbles and water | Source
Lite path with bridge and seating area.
Lite path with bridge and seating area. | Source

Japanese Gardens

Japanese gardens can take various forms, some of them are more complicated than others but you don't have to have a large space to set one up. There are five key ingredients to making a successful Japanese garden and that is before you even add in your plant choices.

Since i am a perennial plant enthusiast, i usually stick to the ones that bloom again and again every year. To me you get more bang for your buck. Perennials are also less stressful, needing no on going care like many of the annuals, at least for me.

Japanese incorporate many of the best things in gardening for me and so, i tend to gravitate to them.

The five elements that i believe should be in a Japanese garden are usually typical of many found in many landscapes, but like any other garden they are constantly changing.

Five key elements:

  1. Bridge, typically painted red
  2. Arbor or wooden seating area
  3. Pagoda
  4. Stone benches
  5. Stone path or pebble path

Besides these you can find things like water falls, water basins, sand & stone area, stone structures, stepping stones, lanterns, and some kind of bamboo structure.

Red plays a prominent role in Japanese culture and is normally included in any kind of artistic design. There are various reasons for this but using red is particular to Zen ideas about the life force preservation, the sacred and casting off the delusion of attachment in favor of wisdom of discerment.

A red bridge known as a Guzei represents the route blessed to take to salvation. If the bridge is over water it is considered as crossing from one world to the next, from the profane to the sacred cleansing oneself to enter the pure world of nature.

I find the dry garden or sand & stone gardens fascinating. It is a large area squared off with a layer of sand where one can spend their time using a funny type of rake making designs in the smooth surface of the sand.

Remembering when considering a Japanese garden before adding your plants, think of the structures that make the garden authentic. Then you can choose trees like the Cherry Blossom tree and Lotus flowers to round out any perennial garden.

If you are fortunate to have the time and the money a pond containing Koi is a wonderful addition to any Japanese garden theme.


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    • Celiegirl profile image

      Celiegirl 6 years ago

      Thanks TheListLady, i love gardens, the peace that i find is so awesome, it's hard to explain. Just add one piece at a time.

    • TheListLady profile image

      TheListLady 6 years ago from New York City

      I'd love to do this type of garden. It is so serene. Thanks for a restful hub! Yay!