My Gardens

One of the most popular features of the original Being Yordie Sands was my stories and photos about Yordie’s Zen Garden. So, for those who are missing that feature I’ve created pages for four of the eight gardens I created.

The gardens include Yordies’s Zen Garden @ Chodron (2008), Yordie’s Zen Garden @ Nishijima (2009-2010), Yordie’s Zen Garden @ Yemple (2011), Yordie’s Harvest Moon Café & Zen Garden (2013). I hope these pages will bring back pleasant memories for readers.


The Japanese Garden

The Japanese garden is a representation of nature and its history reflects the quest for garden elements. There are only remains of the earliest Japanese gardens in archaeological sites in the Asukia, Nara and Kyoto regions.

The earliest gardens appear to date to the Asuka period (538-710) and “were supposed to express Buddhism and Taoism through replicating the mountainous regions in China”.

During the Heian period (794-1185), gardens shifted from solely representing religious beliefs to becoming a place for ceremonies, amusement, and contemplation.

In the eighth-century, the text “Chronicle of Japan” notes the significance of the gardens. Japanese gardens have origins and significance in Shinto, Buddhist and other religions.

Despite differences in emphasis, each religion placed meaning on natural objects including mountains & rocks, lakes & seas, trees and other representations. Another aspect of religious belief relating to the garden was the notion of purification.

In addition to religion, gardens were of importance to nobility and provided venue for parties, theater, poetry and recreation.

In the eleventh-century, the “sakuteiki” (The Classic of Garden Making, possibly the earliest book on garden design) describes the aesthetic values of the Heian courts.

“Following is a summary of the principles:

1) The garden should conform to the topographic characteristics of the site, including the natural flow of water.”

2) Elements of a garden can simulate famous scenic spots, a notion also reflected in the poetry of the Heian Period.”

3) Gardens should conform to what one recognizes as the Chinese principles of feng shui, playing close attention to directional symbolism and the propitious choice and placing of elements.

4) Gardens should capture the spirit of nature as well as imitate its forms.”

Another major text may predate the “sakuteiki” was the “senzui narabi ni yagyo no zu“.

According to Professor Clifton C. Olds of Bowdoin College, “The Senzui follows some of the same principles laid down in the Sakuteiki, but it goes beyond that early text in its analysis of individual elements. It stresses, among other things, the symbolic and geomantic significance of rocks and their placement, going so far as to give colorful and evocative names to the various shapes of garden stones.”

One last historic point, of particular importance to geisha, is that the Japanese garden usually featured a tea house that was used for performing tea ceremonies.

Elements & Styles

History has revealed the principles and elements of the Japanese garden, however, “there is no such thing as a typical Japanese garden, no single element is a required or expected component of a Japanese garden.”

Nonetheless, it is important to describe essential elements in order to explain the differences between a Japanese and other types of gardens.

1) Water Feature – a water feature can be a pond, stream, sea or waterfall, either real or symbolic.

2) Rocks, stones and sand – rocks can be of almost any size can represent mountains or islands or other symbols.

3) Lantern – traditionally, one or more lanterns represent a source of light, and it maybe be small and plain or elaborate, as in the shape of a pagoda.

4) Water Basin – a water basic is meant as a place to refresh oneself, but also a symbolic gesture for purifying one’s spirit.

5) Green Plants & Trees – trees, plants, flowers and mosses are essential elements of any garden and nature in general.

6) Hedge or Fence – a Japanese garden is typically enclosed to help create an environment of tranquility.

Other elements are a variable of the garden’s physical size, where larger gardens may have additional elements, including a bridge or bridges, or a tea house for holding tea ceremonies, or a pavilion or other architectural feature.

Most of the essential elements are present in all Japanese gardens, but there are different styles of gardens that represent different philosophical ideas.

Styles emphasize or de-emphasize one or more of the elements.

The Japanese garden originated in Japan but it is cherished throughout the world and each garden is unique, following is a link to a site with a catalog of many famous gardens:

1 Response to My Gardens

  1. Pingback: Stepping Forward, Slowly | Being Yordie Sands

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