Japanese gardens

Gardens have always provided islands of beauty and peace, and their value is even greater amid the bricks and concrete of a large city. 

The gardens of Japan
Helena Attlee ; photographs by Alex Ramsay.
London : Frances Lincoln, c2010.
In Japanese gardens, visitors find nature condensed and displayed to perfection. Trees are trained and sculpted until they epitomize the very best of the trees' tree-like qualities; the finest natural landscapes are reproduced in miniature; and the seasons are celebrated with spring blossom and the fiery leaves of autumn. This book showcases 28 of the finest examples. Gardens such asKatsura Rikyuexemplify stroll gardens: large, beautifully landscaped parks where a narrow, winding path leads visitors along the water's edge, over bridges and stepping stones, through groves of beautifully pruned trees, between artificial rolling hills and past tea houses and elaborate arrangements of rocks. While Alex Ramsay's photographs capture the gardens' beauty, Helena Attlee elegantly and informatively explains their composition, and the people and influences who made them. Words and pictures marry to make a most pleasing introduction to the gardens of Japan.
Japanese stone gardens : origins, meaning, form
Stephen Mansfield ; foreword by Donald Richie.
Tokyo ; Rutland, Vermont : Tuttle, c2009.
Japanese stone gardens provide tranquil settings where visitors can shed the burdens and stresses of modern existence, satisfy an age-old yearning for solitude and repose, experience the restorative power of art and nature. For this reason the value of the japanese stone garden today is arguably even greater than when many of them were created. This book provides a comprehensive introduction to the powerful mystique and dynamism of Japanese stone gardens - from their earliest use as props in animistic rituals, to their appropriation by Zen monks and priests to create settings conducive to meditation and contemplation and finally to their contemporary use and meaning. With insightful text and abundant imagery, this book reveals the hidden order of stone gardens and in the process heightens the enthusiast's appreciation of them.
A practical guide to Japanese gardening : from design options and materials to planting techniques and decorative features : advice and step-by-step projects, with over 700 illustrations, plans and photographs
Charles Chesshire ; special photography by Alex Ramsay.
London : Lorenz Books, c2009.
Creating a Japanese garden is not just a practical exercise, but also a spiritual one. An authentic Japanese garden is full of ancient symbolism and magic, a visual feast, as well as an aural and tactile experience.
Incomparable Japanese gardens
Gorazd Vilhar and Charlotte Anderson.
Tokyo : IBC, 2008.
Over 150 full-color photographs introduce Japanrsquo;s most beautiful garden masterworks. Designed for viewing, meditation, strolling, and tea practice, the seventy-five gardens here include some of Japanrsquo;s best known, like Ryoan-ji, Ginkaku-ji, Meiji Jingu, and Koraku-en. Thoughtful image editing connects design ideas and themes, while a helpful introduction covers the history of garden art and design in Japan. At the back are addresses in English and Japanese.Gorazd Vilhar and Charlotte Anderson have lived in Japan since 1985; their photographs and essays frequently appear in culture, travel, and lifestyle magazines.

"...when making a Japanese garden, you should have an appreciation for...Japanese culture and art, otherwise your garden will lack life and spirit."

(from Creating your own Japanese garden by T. Sawano)

In an urban context, the Japanese garden is one of the most satisfying varieties.

Tranquility is its signature; the ruling principle of a Japanese garden is balance. 

The opposed elements that are seen to make up the world--light and darkness, yin and yang, rock and water-are arranged in combinations that are balanced and restful. 

Art is brought into a landscape; a single tree or rock can represent a forest or a mountain.  Suggestion is more important than statement.

Plants and flowers are only part of the garden focus, and the attention paid to rocks and paths and vistas makes a Japanese garden attractive even when blanketed with dead leaves or snow. 

St. Louis' Missouri Botanical Garden has one of the most spectacular Japanese gardens in the U.S. It is the largest Japanese strolling garden in the hemisphere.

Visit Seiwa-en

A full life recognizes more than just the seasons of growth, and the well-designed garden must share that same perspective. 

Particularly attractive in a city is the accessibility of Japanese gardening.  Anyone can put one together, and vision is of more importance than size.  A wall and a bush, a bench , some gravel and a pool in the corner of a back yard can all become a setting that is more satisfying than acres of flowerbeds. 

Bring the spirit and beautiful of Japanese gardening to your yard.

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff