August 18, 2011

Japanese-Style Gardens in New Jersey Landscapes

Filed under: Landscape Design — admin @ 7:09 am

The tranquility and harmony that are sought after in Japanese gardens can be very valuable to sooth problems of stress and pressure.  The Oriental message that less can be more is very comforting. Japanese style gardens are understated suggestions of natural scenes that in addition to being decorative, are meant to encourage contemplation and meditation.  Relatively few elements are included, and emphasis is placed on the natural beauty of each rock, plant, or structure as well as on the harmony of the scene as a whole.

While the Eastern philosophy of garden design may seem unusual to Westerners, the plants themselves are often familiar because the Japanese climate is similar to that in many areas of the United States.  Mosses, bamboo, hostas, irises, many types of ferns and azaleas are commonly used, as are the  many plants whose English common names indicate their origin, including Japanese maple, Japanese holly, Japanese forms of white pine, flowering cherry, and wisteria.  Evergreens are heavily relied on, often pruned or trained to appear old because maturity is valued by the Japanese.

Landscape and architecture are inseparable in the Japanese tradition of garden design.  Live Oak Landscape Architects and Garden Designers have studied the traditions of the Japanese garden and can design a space of any size to create feelings of tranquility.

The refreshing simplicity of a Japanese garden is not difficult to achieve, but it does require careful thought about perception and scale.  We create the illusion of space by placing large plants or objects in the foreground and decrease their size toward the back of the garden.   There are several styles of traditional Japanese gardens.  In the hill and pond garden, one of the oldest styles, the hills and ponds are man made, shrubs are shaped to echo the undulating forms of mountains and clouds and the trees are pruned to look old and windswept.  In the tea garden, there is a stepping-stone path, representing a mountain trail, leading to the ceremonial teahouse.  A stone lantern and water basin are usually included and the plants are mostly subdued evergreen.

A stroll garden features stepping stones, stone lanterns and often a teahouse or pavilion, but its main feature is an irregularly shaped pond with islands.  A courtyard garden is a variation on this theme, including a few carefully placed plants and perhaps stepping stones and lanterns, as in the tea garden.

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