Japanese Garden

In the Japanese culture, gardens are considered three-dimensional textbooks of Daoism and Zen Buddhism and the Japanese rock gardens were intended to be intellectual puzzles for the monks who lived next to them to study and solve.  The Japanese garden is a miniature and idealized view of nature.  Smaller gardens are often designed to incorporate the view of features outside the garden, such as hills, trees or temples, as part of the view.  At the heart of the Japanese garden is the principle that a garden is a work of art.

The idea to create a Japanese garden in a reclaimed area or incorporated into a “normal” garden, especially in a city, came from the need to have the opportunity for a relaxed place and to do a relaxing activity.

Objectives

Being involved in the improvement of a public area can be a good way of making citizens aware of the importance of taking care and maintaining common spaces. The aims of this practice are:

  • To restore/save a run-down area and make it accessible to citizens.
  • To present and disseminate the ancient Japanese culture of gardening.
  • To educate children and adults with the love for nature and for “beauty”.
  • To inform about the practice and the historical evolution of the Japanese gardens with a practical approach, to create Japanese gardens on a reduced-scale.
  • To create a relaxing place for citizens in an urban context. 

Materials

Try to use modest materials, the principle of the Japanese garden is the reproduction in scale of nature, so the more natural are the materials, the more Japanese the garden is!

This garden is an arid garden.

For the perimeter:

Be sure that the surface is flat. If not, make it so with a layer of cement.  Apply the cement around the perimeter of the garden. Follow the design you have chosen.

For the path going around the garden, you can use sheets of travertine.  The height should be about 15 cm.

Under the path of travertine make some holes for the water to flow through, in case of heavy rain.

For the garden:

Rocks and pebbles of every size and dimension.

Clastic sedimentary rocks (used in construction).

Green plants and trees.

Colored plants such as chrysanthemums and azaleas placed in just the right spots.

For the area around the garden:

Dichondra repens – weed grass that doesn’t require periodical cutting and prevents the growing of other weed plants.

Implementation

  1. To identify and make accessible and visible a run-down area with water access.
  2. To delineate the land and to design the garden following a Japanese model (See documents section).  Take into account the orography of the soil, the climate (for the choice of vegetables), the supply of the materials (rocks and pebbles) and try to minimize the maintenance.
  3. To protect the garden and the fence with a light net.
  4. Arrange around the garden 2 or 3 observation points with benches and chairs.

Evaluation

Success:

Citizens can be involved during the creation phase and after they can use the garden to rest and relax.

The citizens can take care of the garden during the activities.

Difficulties:

To find the necessary materials (rocks and pebbles) and to bring them on site.  The costs of the materials.

The garden needs a lot of upkeep.

Acts of vandalism are possible.

Tips

Contact local schools and organize activities with the children: present the concept of a Japanese garden (with photography or other tools), typology and historical evolution.

Give people the opportunity to visit the garden and run practical activities with small-scaled Japanese garden in shoe boxes.

The Japanese garden captures the attention of the neighborhood and the area can become a place where people have a break, stop and relax.