The Japanese Garden

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This classic garden provides a calm refuge with natural elements that encourage contemplation and symbolize renewal, wonder, and beauty. 

Stones are symbols of longevity and the ever-present forces of nature, providing the garden with an anchor. With stones, we can create a landscape for cascading water, with small hills, a stream, and a pond.

Image by Drobek226 from Pixabay

Water symbolizes continuity with the hereafter. Cascading water, streams and ponds with koi or carp fish providing a flash of gold colour. The cascades also have a practical purpose, as clear, circulating water helps keep the air fresh during summer months.

A bridge might be built of wood, earth, stone, or bamboo. The bridge allows you a higher point to enjoy the garden’s beauty, watch the fish as they swim, and feel the soft breeze. Lanterns are a symbol of enlightenment and knowledge.

Plants and trees

The Japanese express their joy in the way they use plants and flowers. The bonsai tree is a pinnacle in Japanese culture, as this living plant must be carefully clipped ant nurtured to retain its symbolic shape.

Pine trees

are often pruned to keep their shapes in harmony with the garden. Some pines have a widespread silhouette while others are dense, compact. A small grove of pines can provide a screen from outside distractions.

The good news:

Many more flowers and trees require only minor pruning. Their care is often more suited to the household garden. 


is a classic bush, a symbol of youth with a mass of white flowers in spring. In the fall, this plant has beautiful gold and scarlet foliage with tiny blue berries. In the winter, serviceberry shows its silvery bark. 

Japanese maple

is appreciated for its lacy leaves and striking autumn colours. In very cold climate, the Japanese maples can be grown in pots and taken indoors during winter months, then brought back outside for warm weather. 

Hardier maples

are appreciated as well, allowed to grow naturally without any pruning. These larger maples provide great shade in summer and glorious autumn colours as well.


is known as the flower of Buddha, a sacred plant that will rest on a placid pond, the focus of meditation and contemplation. The lotus flower with its huge blooms in summer provide delicate pink and white shades.


blooms in pink, blue and white tones from May to mid-July. You can choose from many species of irises; their delicacy and grace reflect the Japanese quest for simple, refined beauty.

Shrub peony

bloom in late spring in shades of pink, mauve and yellow, lasting only a few days. They are a symbol of prosperity in Japanese culture, and require winter protection. 


blooms abundantly in spring with white and pink flowers, symbolizing youth and renewal. Japanese cherry trees are well-known for their pure white blossoms.

Rhododendrons and azaleas

give us bright pink, red, purple and white blooms in spring — delicate petals that symbolize fragile beauty. These bushes have waxy, lustrous foliage that give the illusion of wooded landscape in the garden.

Our landscape team at Glorious Gardens is happy to discuss these ideas in planning your garden. If you’re considering a “re-do” of your outdoor space, we invite you to call us. We will brainstorm to find the right blend of elements to suit your tastes, your budget and your space.

By |2021-06-03T11:34:48+01:00March 10th, 2020|Blog, Garden Art, Places, Small Gardens|Comments Off on The Japanese Garden

About the Author:

In 2006 I formed Glorious Gardens, gathering together skilled practitioners to offer not just design but implementation of these designs and maintenance packages where we could look after the gardens once we had created them. Throughout my career I have designed gardens to inspire people with the heart aching beauty of nature, with shapes, colours, moods and proportions to pleasure the body and calm and delight the mind. I am also an artist who works with colour and abstract shapes and I bring this sensitivity to the 4 dimensions of a garden. I am very good at listening to clients and I’m able to draw out the essence of what a client wants for their outdoor space.