When it comes to creating a calming outdoor space to escape the hustle and bustle of modern life, a Japanese-inspired scheme is perfect. And, to really capture that atmosphere of tranquility and a celebration of nature, the plants you choose are key, alongside features such as raked gravel, stepping stones, and stone lanterns.
Compared to western gardens, the color palette in Japanese gardens is restrained, with an emphasis on foliage rather than flowers – a celebration of green in all its varying shades. Trees and shrubs are used more than herbaceous perennials. Ornamental cherries, acers and rhododendrons are all classic plants for Japanese gardens, adding height, structure and seasonal interest with colorful foliage or flowers. These plants all have cultivars that don’t get too big, which means you can still get the look even if you have a small space.
Underneath tall plants, an understorey of shade-loving woodland plants is used, including dwarf evergreen azaleas, the slender needles of pines, and the grassy foliage of Hakonechloa macra. Bare soil is rarely visible in a Japanese garden, as mosses thrive in the damp climate and these are encouraged to creep between the cracks and crevices of stone paths. Flowers are used sparingly as seasonal highlights and rather than flamboyant doubles they tend to be simple single blooms for a more naturalistic feel.
Weave these into your planting scheme for beautiful results.
BY LOUISE CURLEY
(From left to right) Avalon.red / Alamy Stock Photo – Antonio Siwiak / Alamy Stock Photo – Clare Gainey / Alamy Stock Photo