Six on Saturday | Japanese Garden

A Japanese garden is created differently to western gardens, which rely mainly on flowers and visual appeal. These are rather more natural in style and modelled with spiritual and philosophical ideas in mind. Buildings and objects are usually positioned at an angle and paths wind around the garden so not all of the space can be seen at once.

There are several elements that contribute to a Japanese garden.

  1. Water symbolises renewal, calm, wonder and continuity. Time for reflection. Japanese gardens always have water, either a pond or stream or even a small cascade to represent the famous mountain waterfalls.
  2. Rocks and sand. Rocks can represent the earth whilst sand and gravel can represent a river. Rocks and water are yin and yang, complementing each other.
  3. Stone lanterns and water basins symbolises longevity and the forces of the nature. The Yukimi-gata lantern, or snow lantern were often used to line the path to the temple. Now used as decorative features in a garden they can provide a glow in the evening light. The water basins were  originally placed in gardens for visitors to wash their hands and mouth before the tea ceremony. The water will usually come into the basin along a bamboo pipe and a ladle is provided in order to collect the water to clean the hands and mouth
  4. Garden Bridges are privileged sites for stopping to admire the beauty of the landscape. Zigzag bridges will protect you from evil spirits in the Japanese garden as the spirits can only travel in straight lines.
  5. Trees and flowers: Textures are important in a shady garden with large flat leaves contrasting with soft grasses that move in the breeze.  Often shrubs are pruned into flat formations to look like flowing liquid or to create arching branches that reflect over water. Colour is provided through the planting of Japanese Maples, Cherry trees, Azaleas and Camellias and  Wisteria. Pines, Gingkos and Bamboo are also favoured. The trees are carefully situated to show the best of their spring or autumn colours. Moss suggests that the garden is very old.
  6. Fish, especially golden carp, is used as a decorative element and brought in from the Chinese garden. Unfortunately the water was a little cloudy and the fish weren’t easy to spot

My six this week are taken from the Japanese Garden in St Mawgan, Cornwall which was a delight to visit during April’s sunny weather.

See here for the participant’s guide.

Six on Saturday


  1. pommepal says:

    So serene Jude you have captured that in your photos.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Thank you Pauline. I was hoping that would be the effect.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Isn’t it just. Have you been to the one at Dubbo? I know you get around. 🙂

      1. I did not know there was one in Dubbo. Must look out for it next time we’re passing through. We have our own here in Toowoomba. and I see I linked it to your garden challenge.

        1. Heyjude says:

          I shall pop over and take another look.

  2. Lucid Gypsy says:

    It’s so tranquil and lovely, but the maintenance of somewhere like this would man you’d need somewhere relaxing for a rest.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Beach 2 miles down the road do okay? 🙂

  3. Su Leslie says:

    Thanks for this beautiful and enlightening post Jude. I visit the Japanese Garden at Hamilton Gardens often, and enjoy the tranquility. Now I understand the philosophy behind it, i’ll Have to make another trip to observe more closely. Any excuse to get in the car and drive!!!

    1. Heyjude says:

      Oh, the Hamilton Gardens are fabulous. I would love to live close by. And free entrance too! I loved all those themed gardens even if it was raining on my one and only visit.

      1. Su Leslie says:

        I guess I’m not that close, but it’s not a major detour on the way to my dad’s — and well worth the extra time. T loves the modernist garden, but my favs are definitely the Japanese and the English Cottage gardens. 😀

        1. Heyjude says:

          I liked the Italian garden too. And the rose garden. All feature on my flower blog:

        2. Su Leslie says:

          Thanks for sending the link. Your photos of the gardens are beautiful. 😀

        3. Heyjude says:

          I loved them all. And the Auckland conservatory and fernery. They are on that site too if you look for New Zealand. Of course you must visit those places often. Have you been to the Botanic Garden?

        4. Su Leslie says:

          I love the fern dry, and the Wintergardens. Though these days they are incredibly busy with tour groups descending en masse. I’m also slowly collecting botanic gardens around the country. I like Auckland’s, but I really love those in Taupo and Whanganui. Taupo in particular is an absolute treasure (and very well-hidden). Wellington’s is (predictably) steep though the cable car does run up to it, and Dunedin’s was gloriously autumnal when we visited the other week. A few years ago I’d be hard pressed to tell you which NZ towns actually have public gardens, now they are a must-see whenever I travel 😀

        5. Heyjude says:

          I hope you will share your visits with us 🙂
          I only really started visiting gardens once I no longer had one of my own, and got quickly hooked. Though I have always loved flowers since my dad gave me my own patch when I was about five years old and grew cornflowers.

        6. Su Leslie says:

          Definitely; photographing gardens brings me great pleasure. Though I admit, it’s more difficult than I expected. I’m fine with the macro stuff, but struggle to get good compositions of whole gardens. Work in progress 😀

  4. Elizabeth says:

    I appreciated the gentle sounds in the large Japanese garden in Portland, Oregon. The water dripping from a bamboo pipe onto a stone comes to mind.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Yes, the soothing sound of water and the birdsong and the gentle whoosh of the wind in the tree canopy.

      1. Elizabeth says:

        Japanese garden design seems to consider that in a way Western garden design doesn’t seem to as much. At least ones I know about.

  5. 76sanfermo says:

    In a Japanese garden there’s much more than green….
    Love this post!

    1. Heyjude says:

      There is indeed. Not a floral garden, but so many different textures and shade and light to focus on.

  6. This series is really stimulating your creative thinking prompted by six. I appreciated your outline of the symbolism of the garden, and I’ve definitely decided I don’t want to be a spirit. I’m not a fan of walking in straight lines. What were the dimensions of this garden? It seems quite spacious. A pleasureable post.

    1. Heyjude says:

      It’s about an acre with a small nursery and shop attached.
      “The garden was built as a meditative garden, where one can calm the mind & let go of unwanted stress through contemplation & reflection.”

      1. Thanks. I should’ve looked it up myself.

        1. Heyjude says:

          Not at all. I might add it to the end of the post as I have been doing so with recent garden write-ups.

  7. Stunning post about a really gorgeous garden Jude!

    1. Heyjude says:

      I’d happily have it as mine. Only 2 miles to the beach too, and a lovely pub just around the corner.

      1. We can dream can’t we Jude? 😉

  8. This is a beautiful garden – I can feel the peace and tranquility coming through your photos.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Job done then 🙂

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