Tiny marvels of balance and elegance, Japanese gardens are a source of unlimited inspiration.

You can select certain plants or ornamental elements to give your garden an Asian touch.

The Japanese garden

Trees and shrubs pruned with precision are very important in Japanese gardens: they offer structure and play around with perspective. If you also want to jab the hand pruner around to produce a shrub with a perfect silhouette, best go for small conifers like the dwarf fir tree and false cypress which are great for bonsai-type pruning.

Bamboo will contribute to bringing over a bit of Asia to your garden. They are quite convenient to set up a hedge. Select them to be clumping (non-running) to avoid them invading your garden. If your garden is small, select a dwarf variety that you can also grow in pots.

Erable_du_Japon jardin japonaisAmong other species that are distinctly associated to the country of the rising sun are ginkgo biloba and its surprising butter-fly-shaped leaves, Japanese cherry tree and Japanese maules’s quince that have an extraordinary blooming in spring, without forgetting Japanese maple (Acer palmatum and japonicum), that take on furnace-like colors in fall. Set yours up in part sun with acidic soil (pH 5 to 6), cool and well drained.

You can enhance the stage with shrubs like camellia, azalea, hydrangea and rhododendron. Note that all these plants require acidic soil which is very common in Japan! If your soil is very chalky, try growing these in pots to create a mini-Japanese garden on your terrace for instance.

To cover the ground itself, bring in greenery like ferns and hostas, and plant iris which is a flower that inspired a great many Japanese artists.

Oriental scenery

Japanese garden buddhaVarious decorative objects will bring the final touch to your garden. Create a winding path along the lawn with Japanese stepping stones, attach a lantern or wind chimes to the branch of a tree, plant bamboo torches along a garden trail…

Stone lanterns are almost a must-have, but you might also prefer a little fountain. In the shape of a Buddha or simply square, there are sun-powered product models that are activated by the sun’s rays.

L. H.

Image credits: Truffaut, Jardiland, La Plante du Mois, Fly

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