Home' Outdoors : WAs Best Outdoors and Gardens 2009 Contents WA's Best Outdoors & Gardens 2010 73
Some gardens evoke an immediate feeling
of calm and well-being. Compare that to
a space that is mostly sand, the occasional
weed and a tree gasping for life.
How do you feel standing in that yard? Less
happy than when you were sniffing the roses?
Gardens can have a huge impact on our overall
health and wellbeing.
Aside from the design and ambience of a garden
working wonders in the health department,
there's been extensive research into "horticultural
is isn't about sending your plants off for some
couch action with a shrink, it's about the healing
and nurturing act of gardening.
Yes, physically doing the gardening can be
medicine in itself.
is type of therapy is particularly aimed at
(but not limited to) those with physical and
mental disabilities, the elderly, those with
acquired brain injuries, people recovering
some substance abuse, and youth and children.
And while this might not be you, what it
does show is that anyone can benefit from getting
out in the garden, putting in some effort and
reaping the rewards of seeing something grow
For centuries Japanese culture has embraced
a sensitive style of gardening that focuses on a
subtle interplay of nature and design. Japanese
landscaping has a strong focus on the intimate
relationship between the house and the garden,
bringing a balance of serenity and beauty to
Like most design around the world, Japanese
garden design considers scale, shape, texture,
division of space, use of light and dark and so on.
However there is also consideration given to
asymmetry, the enclosure, framing, surrounding
scenery (that is, if you're lucky enough to have a
mountain popping out above your back yard, then
work with it, don't pretend it's not there), "hiding
and revealing" (allowing elements of the garden
to appear as you move through the garden),
how negative space works between objects in
the garden, fuzei (which literally means "wind
feeling" -- imagine a tree that has been shaped to
look like it's been moulded by the wind, or mossy
stones that look older than their years), and other
elements such as grouping objects in threes.
is can literally be three objects -- say three
stones, small, medium and large -- but it can also
be three elements such as close, near and far, or
horizontal, vertical and diagonal.
" e biggest difference with Japanese gardening
is that Japanese gardening is based on a 'natural
style' garden," says Eiji Morozumi from Japanese
" is doesn't mean that the garden is wild, it
means that we think of it in the most beautiful,
natural way. We can make a little forest in your
garden, we can make a waterfall that looks like
it has been there for all time. We try to bring
the best of nature into your backyard, in a small
scale," he says.
is style of creating "natural scenes" became
established in Japan during the pre-Modern era
(1600-1850), which was Japan's longest period
of political and economic stability.
In architecture and in the garden, it was more
a period of elaboration on existing styles rather
than inventing new ones.
It was retired emperors and royalty who really
got the trend going. Rather than bother with the
hassle of having to travel somewhere to take a
walk through nature, they preferred having this
magnificent scenery on tap.
So kaiyu-shiki teien (meaning "stroll garden")
grew from these desires, and their country estates
became home to a new style of gardening.
e early gardens built around this theme were
apparently a lot like theme parks, with specific
scenes from famous places around Japan and
China recreated, small-scale.
In today's gardens, you'll see more of the
"natural style" that Eiji refers to, forest-like
creations, "river" scenes, mini-waterfalls and
so on. Elements of the Japanese garden include
soil, decorative and useful stonework, water
basins, stone lanterns, trees, shrubs, moss,
pebbles, cobbles and dividers such as bamboo
fences, walls and hedges.
Water is a central element of Japanese garden
design, with many gardens featuring a central
water piece, whether that is a waterfall, pond,
basin or something more unusual such as a water
harp hollow. is is a small hollow set under the
ground near a wash-basin in the garden.
As water drops into the hollow it makes a harp-
like sound. Having a water feature in your garden
can generate stillness and calm, as water sustains
life and flows around impediments.
"Water is an essential part of the Japanese
garden," says Eiji. "However these days we have
to be conscious of our water. So we make gardens
that are very simple, and we make lots of dry rock
ponds and waterfalls. People say to me that they
feel very cool and comfortable, just by looking
at it. I have customers who say 'I can almost hear
the water running'."
e Zen garden is also increasing in popularity
in WA thanks to its drought-friendly nature and
suitability to smaller spaces.
"When Buddhism came to Japan it had a big
influence on gardens and art. So in the Zen garden,
Buddhist influence is big, so that influence came
out in the small space area. It's "less is more" in
Zen terms. So we will put in maybe one or two
plants, or rocks, with an accent object, but not too
much. A Zen garden is expressed with gravel or
water -- it's about expressing the space," says Eiji.
Emma Wheater shows how to turn your garden into a personal space for healing and relaxation using
Japanese design, yoga and meditation areas, healthy plants, magna pools and more...
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