Thanks for vsiiting my Japanese garden website that also includes a lot on the topic of Zen gardens.
These are becoming more popular the world over – they are fun to design and build and if you learn how to do it you can save your self quite a bit of money.
Here is a recent article from one of my other Japanese garden websites http://www.makingajapanesegarden.com on the subject of Zen gardens.
Zen gardens ARE part of Japanese gardens and their culture. In Kyoto for example you can see some of the World’s finest examples of ‘Zen’ gardens. Often they are part of the grounds of temples but their popularity all over the world means that they have become multi faceted and mutli purpose.
Zen gardens can be indoors, on roof terraces and obviously outdoors. A Zen garden should have more than one meaning for the viewer – interpretation is key. As the Japanese say ‘the mind is flexible if we practice flexibility’.
Buddhism is the root of Zen gardens and they can be used on many different levels. In Japanese the word ‘Karesansui’ means ‘dry monutain water’. Hundreds of years ago Buddhist monks would draw metaphors in dirt and so began the basics of Zen gardens withing ZEN. It is after all an aspect.
For me a Zen garden is all about making the visitor or owner feel comfortable. Away from the hustle and bustle of life going on around you. a garden with a few rocks and raked sand has a tremendously calming appeal. It encourages the mind to focus on what we see and not flit around all over the place.
Zen gardens are very practical for meditation because of their feeling of calmness. The were almost visually medicinal in a way. In years gone by the wealthy, samurai and even high ranked politicians were invitied to take Tea and view these types of gardens from seated galleries. They would take in the elements of the garden and appreciate it’s meaning – for example a large stone in the middle of a Zen garden should represent the centre of the universe.
Zen gardens are designed to help us get away from a single subjective view of life . they can be visually decieving to stimulate the train of thought of a viewer. A good example of this is Ryuan-ji Zen garden which has 15 stones but wherever you view the garden from you can only see 14 stones.
Some Zen gardens demonstrate the forces of YIN and YANG – the Chinese understanding of natural forces that alster our lives and the changes in our environment. In Buddhism a similar belief is called NIYAMAS – a belief of natural forces that can change our lives and world.
Zen gardens are a pretty complicated subject and if you would like to make one make sure you do your research. a lot of people like the concept and love the feeling of visual and literal tranquility that they bring.
Here is a guide to the essential ingredients for a Zen garden so you can get planning and designing. Don’t forget to ‘level’ an area of your yard or garden and get rid of the dreaded weeds completely:
Stones: try not to get stones that are too small. Arrange then before adding them to your garden until your feel happy with their placement. Take a photgraph to remember the arrangement for ease of adding them to the garden later on.
Rocks: You will need quite a few – it is best to gather them together in groups no lower than 3 and about 4 or 5 of those stone clusters will be sufficient.Partially bury your larger rocks into the ground in the layout that pleases your eye.
Brick and Wood: Primarily you will use either of these to ‘edge’ your garden space. You can use stones if you wish.
Fabric– you should source some landscape fabric cover sheeting. Cut to cover the base of your entire garden space. This will help prevent the return of weeds and provide a surface for your next ingredient.
Sand / Small Pebble Gravel: a covering of 4 to 5 inches will be enough ( approx 8 to 10 centimetres) going around the rocks and up to the edge of the Zen garden on all sides.
A Rake: This will give you the final ‘Zen garden’ look. Rake the sand or gravel as simply as possible. Take a look at photo’s and copy their raking if you want to be influenced by the expert Zen gardeners.
You can add pottery pieces, maybe a statue, a small pond it is up to you. these types of gardens are tranquil and peaceful and SO easy to maintain – no growing and apart from plucking out the odd protruding weed there is very little to do.
Zen gardens are special peaceful havens in a busy and stressful world and they are pretty simple to build and you will have fun too!
If you would like to learn more about Japanese gardens – including their history , ingredients, rules, types of gardens, Zen garden, plants, shrubs and trees plus lots of other tips and information then you may like to find out more about a manual that I have written on the subject – it is in EASY to understand PLAIN ENGLISH – Click Here