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. Tish Farrell says:

    This is so lovely. Makes me want to dismantle the garden and start again. Stop it getting so hectic – i.e. between me the random-plan gardener – and the plants that keep putting themselves all over the place: as in present aquilegia forest, and upcoming corncockle invasion.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Part of my tiny garden is very much like this in that it is damp and shady most of the time and has a rock wall, moss and lots of ferns. I got quite a few ideas of planting from this garden and it is soooo peaceful (other than the birds). Trouble is I wouldn’t want to plant more trees, as then we’d lose the view, which is partly why we bought this house. But, yes, it is very different to a cottage garden.

      1. Tish Farrell says:

        That shady niche sounds very calming.

        1. Heyjude says:

          And also home to lots of bindweed!!

        2. Tish Farrell says:

          Oh dear! Hard to turn that to one’s advantage.

  2. beetleypete says:

    Looks like a nice place, Jude. The water and stones do lend a sense of peace.
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    1. Heyjude says:

      It’s a fairly small garden Pete, so one you could imagine creating yourself. It is very peaceful and the birdsong is magnificent. Perfect on a hot day.

  3. restlessjo says:

    I’d love a wander here with you, Jude. It looks so beautiful. Or how about a trip to Japan? Now that would be amazing, but we’ve missed the cherry blossom for this year. As Tish says, wonderful and soothing, with some lovely shots. 🙂 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      Never fancied Japan (or the flight) and I think Cathy showed me everything I’d want to see there. But I do appreciate the offer 😉

      1. restlessjo says:

        You’re not wrong about Cathy 🙂 🙂

        1. Heyjude says:

          I think I got a bit templed out!

        2. restlessjo says:

          I know what you mean, but the blossom, Jude! The blossom! 🙂 🙂 Celia in Tokyo has some fabulous posts.

        3. Heyjude says:

          Yes, the cherry blossom is gorgeous, if fleeting. I wish I had some blossom trees, but I can’t really plant any more trees or I’d lose the view. [Thought: Maybe alongside the neighbours fence would be a perfect spot]

        4. restlessjo says:

          Hide the cows? 🙂 🙂

        5. Heyjude says:

          Other neighbours, the human sort.

  4. That makes me want to sit down and observe. But I have got about 500 things to do!

    1. Heyjude says:

      Well when you have finished come back and have a cup of tea in the tea house 😀

  5. janesmudgeegarden says:

    I’m seeing the same elements that I saw in the Japanese Garden in Dubbo, but I didn’t know the theory behind them, so thank you for sharing, Jude.

    1. Heyjude says:

      They are very calming places I find.

    2. pommepal says:

      That Dubbo Japanese garden is among the best I have seen

      1. Heyjude says:

        Mmmm… I shall have to put that on the list. I have actually been to Dubbo – changed from train to bus there on the way to Broken Hill.

        1. pommepal says:

          Yes worth a look, so is Armidale not too far away from Dubbo

        2. Heyjude says:

          I think I need to go on a road trip…

        3. pommepal says:

          Warmer weather more motivating. But, with all the traffic, I think road trips could be slower for you

        4. Heyjude says:

          Well I was actually thinking of a road trip in your part of the world, but only dreaming…

        5. pommepal says:

          Well never say never Jude…

        6. Heyjude says:

          No. But it has occurred to me that there may be an age restriction on hiring cars. I was under 60 last time I hired one.

        7. pommepal says:

          I think it is 80 over here and of course insurance rockets up when you get older

        8. Heyjude says:

          Something I need to check out.

        9. pommepal says:

          Another reason to travel while we can…

  6. Pit says:

    Japanese gardens are so serene and tranquil!

    1. Heyjude says:

      They truly are.

  7. Ali says:

    What a beautiful garden. You explain the different elements so well. I used to live near the Japanese Gardens in Holland Park, and whilst they seemed pleasant and calming, I didn’t understand the elements enough to really appreciate them. The textures always struck me as lovely, and the shapes, but I didn’t know much about plants then. Your photos of the maples are just gorgeous.

    1. Heyjude says:

      The maples were stunning, although my reason for the visit was to see the cherry blossom, of which there was little. Nice pub close by too 😀

  8. fredgardener says:

    Lovely Six that explains Japanese philosophy and their love for gardens. A place to walk, a place to sit or take a nap and dream (but after taking pictures anyway! …)

    1. Heyjude says:

      Thank you Fred. Glad you liked it.

  9. Fascinating post about the elements that make up a Japanese garden – looks like a magical, peaceful place.

    1. Heyjude says:

      It is only a small garden, though not as small as mine, but very tranquil. And full of birdsong. A nice place to visit to just relax the shoulders.

  10. Pete Hillman says:

    Lovely blog and images, Jude! This garden looks such a beautiful and tranquil place to just be and become lost in, away from the busy busy of everyday living.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Thanks Pet. It is a lovely place.

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