Look Up: In the Japanese Garden

I’ve always enjoyed spending time in Japanese gardens.  The Cleveland Botanical Garden (CBG) has a Japanese garden that is beautiful even in the rain.  Perhaps especially in the rain as all that water from the sky adds an extra element to the mix as well as making us slow down to savor the beauty and peace of the garden.  And the rain does tend to keep other people away, gifting us with the garden all to ourselves for a little while.

The CBG’s Japanese garden has been in place for 33 years.   According to the CBG website, the hillside portion was designed to evoke the Zen Buddhist dry landscape style.  As you look up the steps in the photo above you see rocks that are suggestive of water streaming down the hill.  Because it was a rainy day, it was more than a suggestion.  If you look further up the hillside, you will see a lantern:

This was put there to represent one of the elements of the tea garden style, the lanterns being placed along the path to light the way during evening tea ceremonies.

There are also elements of the stroll style garden in CBG’s Japanese garden, where rocks are placed in such a way as to slow down the walker and help him or her take the time to appreciate the garden and the moment, along with plenty of open space (known as “ma”) to help define the elements around it as well as be defined by those same elements.

(Japanese red maple leaves.)

If you wish to learn more about Japanese gardens and the various styles, elements, and placements, have a look at The Helpful Gardener’s article:  Japanese Garden Design Principles.  It’s a good place to start.