matt44
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How Can I Give my Garden a More Japanese Feel?

Hi, after posting on the introduction I thought I would come here to hopefully gain some ideas and knowledge.

I am wanting to give my garden a Japanese "feel" whilst still maintaining a English garden essence. Hope that makes sense.

I am a very new gardener but I fell in love Japanese Maples whilst perusing a mail order gardening brochure so went to a few local garden centers and I now have 2 Acers: A small Garnet (about 1 foot high) and an "Orangeola" which is around 5ft high.

My garden, as you can see is quite awkward and I have little to work with.

[img]https://i127.photobucket.com/albums/p139/mattthekid/15082008244.jpg[/img]

I have put bamboo edging down the side of the beds and have bought two Japanese Azaleas which you see on the small wall which will hopefully flower this summer.

Basically, aside from buying a couple of little Buddas, what can I do to give a more Japanese feel?

I am looking for plant ideas, as the two beds along eitherside of the lawn are basically blank apart from a few tulip bulbs I planted to flower this spring, and anything else you can throw at me.

Hope you can help.

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Piet Patings
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Hello Matt,
Well I think you first need to develop your Vision a bit further.
a Japanese "feel" whilst still maintaining a English garden essence
Seeing your photo I could think of a type of dry garden, karesansui, that is. This combines very well with topiary, which can be very Japanese but also English so to say (dangerous talk this).
Your current path in the middle could then be transformed into a Roji/type path and you could even fit in some small evergreen trees, and perhaps a small tsukubai facility.

Have a look at my website. In the Approach chapter I discuss a Six-phase approach. Even with a small garden it is a good practice to briefly step trough all the six phases and determine what that means for you.

My own (Zen) garden, Tsubo en, is an example of a karesansui garden with lots of topiary shrubs, karikomi and hakozukuri, shaped in Japanese terms.

If you want te keep the terrace in the back you need to shield it off.

Have a look and see what these suggestions can do for you. Also look at (Japanese) examples.

Enjoy, Piet
Piet, Tsubo-en

matt44
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Will have a look, thanks for your advice! :)

matt44
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Piet Patings wrote:If you want te keep the terrace in the back you need to shield it off.
What kind of shield would you suggest thats nice and simple? I imagine bamboo fencing is quite expensive. lol

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Piet Patings
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Matt, with "shielding it off" I mean that there must be something to take away the sight of that terrace in the back. How and what would depend on the garden type you decide to make (also see: [url]https://www.karesansui.nl/html/page_Approach.htm#METHOD[/url] ). It could be a screen but could also be plants or a wall.
If you go for a tea-garden type (more intimate) or elements, then I can imagine that you use planting, e.g. a hedge or even trees or a tree-hedgerow etc.
An other option would be a Koshikake (waiting bench) or even a bamboo fence that separates the tea-garden compartments.

In case of more karesansui and tsukiyama (artificial hill-scape, can be rather flat moss surfaces but also bush) the this could be a classical wall (like) fence but can also be O-karikomi, that is a higher growing topiary that represents mountains etc.

You also need to create a sense of space and dept, the means with which you can do that depends on the (arche)type you prefer.

Take the path in the middle. It can not remain straight. It should also use natural stones, e.g. step-stones. These could lay in moss or groundcovers but can also run trough gravel, or even a combination. You need to visualize what you prefer and then see how it would fit the whole garden("architecture").

So not a simple answer to a seemingly simple question.
Piet,
Piet, Tsubo-en

Herb3
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One idea

I think that it might help if the area near the house was separated from the the patio at the back of the picture with a screen of some sort.

Maybe two or three shrubs would help too?

Perhaps something of this sort -

https://www.pbase.com/mtu_fulani/image/108653803
Last edited by Herb3 on Thu Feb 19, 2009 3:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

matt44
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Wow, thanks for that picture! Its great and certainly gives me some ideas to rattling around my head!

Gives me something to work with, thanks.

Herb3
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Ideas

Here's another idea -

https://www.pbase.com/mtu_fulani/image/109335815

matt44
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Wow, now THAT I like! Even my fiancee likes it too! lol :D

Great work! thanks a million!

What plants are you using there?

Herb3
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I picked the five green things to the right purely for the colour & shape & I happened to have the picture. I'm not sure, but I think they're small-leaved Hebes of some sort, but I wouldn't recommend actually using Hebes because they tend to eventually grow too big and don't always like being clipped back. There are lots of other that would give that appearance & behave better. Personally, I'd actually use some sort of dwarf Box. Box takes well to being clipped and will stay very dense as well as being evergreen.

The yellowish one on the left is either a variegated Euonymus or Eleagnus

The two things on either side of the lantern are, on the left, a small evergreen fern and, on the right, next to the fence, an Aspidistra. Instead of an Aspidistra, there are various evergreen fens that would give quite a similar effect.

I'm not sure what the plant in the pot is. I'd be inclined to have a few potted plants of different things I liked to stand in that spot on the wall & to switch them round according to the time of year. I've never tried bonsai, but perhaps one might look O.K. there?

Probably the hardest part would be getting the moss to grow. I only put the moss there because I thought how hard it would be to mow lawn. If not lawn or moss, maybe plain bark mulch, or gravel would work.

The easiest way to grow moss that I've found is to lay down some old carpet, the same side up as if it were in the house. It looks terrible for two or three years, but it helps to discourage weeds & eventually it can gather enough dust that moss will appear all on its own.

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Piet Patings
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Nice job Herb.
What do you use to make such transposition ?
Thanks, Piet,
Piet, Tsubo-en

Herb3
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Piet,

I use an older & simpler - and easier to use - version of Photoshop - i.e. Photoshop Elements 2. It's a lot cheaper than the full-blown Photoshop. I forget exactly what I paid, but it was less than $30 on eBay.

The essential feature to learn to use is the "layers" function. I spent several years of frustration wondering how it worked. Eventually I managed to grasp it, and it turned out to be to be quite a simple process. Now I realise that the better way would have been to ask some teenager to show me how.

Herb

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koiboy01
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Hi Bert,
I agree with your last sentence, ask a teenager. :lol:
koiboy01
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anyone who never made a mistake never made anything.

The Helpful Gardener
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Still up to your old tricks, I see Herb... :lol:

Hi Matt, you've been in very good hands...

Piets garden shows a wonderful way to work in smaller places; tight clipping and abstract shape help create flow while not seeming unruly (which happens faster in a small area). Very nice Piet: I am also a fan of Jizo Bosatsu, especially in such a rustic and refined form. You set a great example...

The garden of my teacher was not much bigger than Matts but seemed much larger. Right outside his slider was the biggest plant in his garden, a huge threadleaf maple (he and I would spend three days pinching it when it got full grown). You could catch visions of the garden through branches, but you could not see much at once and you couldn't see everything. It was set to one side, starting the garden in an asymetrical manner which was maintained throughout. and was a main view no matter where you stood. This is called miegekure, or hide and reveal, and is a very important design aspect in Japanese gardening. More important to think design aspects than elements like Buddhas or bridges; you can add a lot of chotchkes and still have a very western garden...

Herb's pictures get you started down the road to asymetry, but I think the formality of the two urns is a very symetrical, Western start and might need rethinking. You can make more use of the space by partitioning into cup gardens as the Chinese call it, hiding and revealing as you go. Even a smaller shrub or tree can hide a sweet suprise behind it, and smaller forms after large sets a false perspective, making the space appear larger from the main viewing area (I assume your house). Don't be afraid to throw that western thinking to the wind and do like Val did in his garden, putting the bigger plants in the front. All gardens are voyages of discovery for the first time; think of that journey as a first timer will, and the design will come from that...

HG

matt44
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Thanks HG, some helpful advice. ;)

I was thinking a couple of days ago about purchasing a Prunus incisa 'Kojo-no-mai' (Fuji Cherry) and having it in a container on the patio. Hopefully, in a pot it's growth will be around 6ft high and this could be large enough to have the effect you spoke of without being too large that if overpowers the small patio area.

I've also had a few other ideas and as soon as I am back in work (victim of the current economy) and have some money I will be able to implement them.

The Helpful Gardener
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Sorry to hear about the job Matt; best of luck in your search.

In the meantime, you are now blessed with some gardening time...

HG
Scott Reil

matt44
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Below is a picture of the planting space I have available at the side of the patio area. Its about 10" in width and nearly 3 meters long.

Any suggestions of what could go in here? I'm tempted to go for british flowering plants as it gets the sun most of the day but that would go against the Japanese theme I am hoping to bring unless anyone has any suggestions?

[img]https://i127.photobucket.com/albums/p139/mattthekid/P03-04-09_1810.jpg[/img]

I need to fill it with topsoil over the weekend and ID the two plants in the centre before I dig them out (or not)

Any help would be great. Thanks

The Helpful Gardener
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The leaves appear to be foxgloves; not sure about the other...

Too narrow a space for a proper garden; for a Japanese feel I would be tempted to use lilyturf, mondo grass, or even a clumping bamboo (like Fargesia, to keep it monocultural (simple). Or you could fill the space with black river stones, also very Japanese... but to do too much in that narrow space would be forced and unnatural, and that is NOT Japanese at all...

HG
Scott Reil

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Sage Hermit
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Using the plants from your area doesn't take away from the theme even in the slightest. How the plants look together, combniing the environment with nature, really is what japanese gardeners use as a theme.

1.have the slabs of rock cut at a hardware store into small squars

2.Take the soil out but leave the plants with some

3.Put it all in containers

4.Add small rocks and fill it all in then put the slabs in on top in a row

5.Add containers with japanese plants

[img]https://i199.photobucket.com/albums/aa267/adaba/Containers.jpg[/img]

: )
You can solve all your problems in a garden/laboratory.

The Helpful Gardener
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Equisetum arvense would work in there (what is on the other side of the fence? Equisetum could grown through...)

A trick I have used in the past is reed or bamboo roll fencing stapled to the fence; gives a more rustic look without too much work or expense...

HG
Scott Reil

matt44
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The Helpful Gardener wrote:Equisetum arvense would work in there (what is on the other side of the fence? Equisetum could grown through...)

A trick I have used in the past is reed or bamboo roll fencing stapled to the fence; gives a more rustic look without too much work or expense...

HG
HI, yes I though about that but the only problem being that its not my fence. The fence is the responsibility of the next door neighour so should they decide to take it down etc it could ruin the bamboo roll.

BUT I may just do it anyway. lol

The Helpful Gardener
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Yeah, cut to size on the fence, if they take it down they say "Here's your fence." Right?

Another point to ponder is the Japanese use of asymetry. What part of you yard might be very symetrical, but easily changed?

HG
Scott Reil

matt44
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The Helpful Gardener wrote:Yeah, cut to size on the fence, if they take it down they say "Here's your fence." Right?

Another point to ponder is the Japanese use of asymetry. What part of you yard might be very symetrical, but easily changed?

HG
I have tried to stray away from the western "symertical" thing on the garden.

The only two things that are symetrical are the 2 Tree Peonys I have planted at the bottom of each bed. Everything else is staggered or not symetrical at all.

I think I'm slowly getting there.................... no idea if it'll look remotley Japanese at the end of it but I'll have a garden I like. lol

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While the wall itself is symetrical, the pots on top of the posts really accent that... that might be one thing to think about...the yard is balanced front to back as well, with the grass area seperating two fairly symetrical living areas at either end...

The straight path right down the middle of the garden is both symetrical and bad feng shui; bad chi travels in straight lines so you try to eliminate them (Feng shui applies as Japanese gardening is a hybrid form of Chinese gardening; the garden city of Japan, Kyoto, was layed out with feng shui in mind...). A curved path, especially one where the end is hidden by plants or stucture would be more apropros it would also make the yard appear larger by hiding part of it...

We tend to overlook symmetry in the Western world as it is so ingrained to our culture that we tend to fall into it without thought. Yet this is a key tenet of Japanese garden style; Nature does not do symmetry often so it is not used in the garden (unless you count reflections in water, in which case she does it alot...). I offer these examples not so much to "repair' anything as to illustrate one of the inherent stumbling blocks for Westerners doing Japanese style design...

HG
Scott Reil

matt44
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Hi, thanks for more insight.

The pics on here are a few months old and I have changed things round abit now.

The pots have gone and the Azaleas in them have been planted - unsymetrically......

I know the path is straight at the moment but that will be remedied as soon as possible.

I'm getting there slowly but keep coming with more suggestions.

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Sage Hermit
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:bouncey: :idea:)

:?
Last edited by Sage Hermit on Fri Apr 17, 2009 10:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
You can solve all your problems in a garden/laboratory.

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Sage Hermit
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Sage Hermit wrote::bouncey: :idea:)
Do you know how to grow moss? I would grow some on your side of the fence vertically.
You can solve all your problems in a garden/laboratory.

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