How to Create an Oriental, Chinese, Japanese Garden

If you want to create a Chinese or Japanese styled garden, Nathan James Dodd has plenty of ideas and inspiration for ornaments, structures and plants that will provide a wonderful oriental feel.

Created by Nathan James Dodd on Tuesday, 29th of January, 2013.
Updated on Tuesday, 19th of May, 2015.


How to Create an Oriental, Chinese, Japanese Garden

Calmness and serenity, many people seek those attributes when planning a garden that will provide an escape from the stress of modern life. A piece of quietness and beauty that gives you space for relaxation and contemplation. An oriental garden is designed to provide this refuge tinged with eastern mysticism. 

Oriental gardening at its simpliest can be divided in two: tsukiyami, which is a hill garden and mainly composed of hills and ponds. The other is hiraniwa, which is basically the exact opposite of tsukiyami: a flat garden without any hills or ponds.

Water Features

There’s nothing quite as calming as the shimmering sound of flowing water. Oriental garden ornaments, fountains and water features come in many guises, some in the shape of Buddhas or pagodas, or they may be just pleasing sculptural forms. All of them will offer the ethereal trickling of water reflecting eternal values.

The picture illustrating this article was taken by myself last summer in our Japanese garden at our Sutton Coldfield garden centre in Birmingham. Although a lot smaller than when it was originally built it still contains at its heart a pond and waterfall feature.

Buddha Statues

Buddhism and gardening have an intertwined history. The patience and hard work demanded in fashioning a garden resulting in paradise. Constructing a rock garden would follow ancient Japanese tradition together with a lantern lined gravel path leading to enlightenment. An image of Buddha is also entirely appropriate and can provide a focal point for the garden if placed in a respectful position.

Traditionally the Buddha should look to the north, preferably on a plinth away from the ground and in a particularly serene location. As the Buddha is often depicted sitting on a lotus flower this could be near a water lily covered pond populated with koi carp. These fish are ornamental varieties of the common carp bred in a multitude of virtually limitless colours and patterns with Ghost koi becoming very popular in the United Kingdom over recent years.

If you do build a rock garden there are numerous rules and guidelines to follow. The selection and placement of rocks is most important, one theory is that there should be more horizontal than vertical stones, do not place them in straight lines or symmetrical patterns as randomly placed rocks produce spontaneity.  Other principles cover colour, shape and size and you realise that this is an extraordinary subject that deserves greater research.

Pagodas and Lanterns

Pagodas are another icon from the East that can be readily incorporated into an oriental garden. They are simply tiered towers with multiple eves, traditionally with an odd number of levels. Most had a religious function and were built near Buddhist temples. There are now more manageably sized stone cast replicas available that do not require planning permission. Or you could choose a larger wooden version as a centrepiece to the garden that would be perfect for dining or entertaining.

Other structures that add to the authenticity of your garden might be Chinese Tea House to relax in during a sunny afternoon or a pergola, free standing or adjoining your house, that acts as an effective frame for flower displays or climbers. Hanging baskets and lanterns may be suspended from the roof enabling your garden to be filled with light and colour.

Japanese style garden benches may be placed around the garden with tetsubachi water basins and why not protect your tranquil setting from bad khama with a Foo Dog or Chinese guardian lion. These have traditionally stood in pairs in front of Chinese Imperial palaces, tombs and temples are believed to be powerful protectors.

Correct Planting is Essential

In Buddhism planting represents fertile and blossoming ideas and the overriding consideration is that of harmony and simplicity. The garden must have hidden places to explore perhaps by gracefully arched bridges that are such an important element and careful planting creates a backdrop to garden features or forms an individual scene. Formal flower beds were uncommon but are now accepted while topiary and the shaping of plants and trees has always been important in creating an idealised natural panorama.

Japanese Cherries will offer colour and fragrance in abundance; acers and azaleas contribute stunning red, purple, orange and yellows that can be balanced by cool grasses and bamboos; magnificent wisterias, magnolias and hydrangeas contrast with evergreen pines and junipers to produce an amazing choice of flower and foliage.

Landscape gardener Seyemon Kusumoto wrote that the Japanese generate ‘the best of nature's handiwork in a limited space.’ And that will be your fascinating task.

You can view a huge range of oriental garden ornaments for home delivery on the GardenSite website.

Related Articles

2016 Gardening Trends

2016 Gardening Trends

With Christmas and the New Year celebrations over with, it’s time to think about gardening trends for 2016, here’s what Nathan James Dodd foresees in the coming months.

Author: Nathan James Dodd

Written by Nathan James Dodd.
Published on Thursday, 7th of January, 2016.

September Pond Maintenence

September Pond Maintenence

When September arrives autumn is just around the corner and, with falling temperatures as well as leaves, Dan Everton has plenty of jobs around the pond.

Author: Dan Everton

Written by Dan Everton.
Published on Friday, 28th of August, 2015.

Why Carol Klein Loves The Water Lily

Why Carol Klein Loves The Water Lily

The water lily is probably the nation's favourite aquatic plant, and Nathan James Dodd previews the next episode of 'Plant Odysses' in which Carol Klein celebrates its unique characteristics.

Author: Nathan James Dodd

Written by Nathan James Dodd.
Published on Wednesday, 12th of August, 2015.

Which Preformed Pond Should You Choose?

Which Preformed Pond Should You Choose?

Preformed ponds are a popular alternative to using a liner, Dan Everton explains that they are moulded from plastic or fibre glass and available in a large number of shapes.

Author: Dan Everton

Written by Dan Everton.
Published on Monday, 10th of August, 2015.

comments powered by Disqus

RSS

View RSS Feed

Author

Nathan James Dodd

Garden Designer

View Profile

Follow Us!

Recent Articles

How To Make An Insurance Claim For Garden Storm Damage

How To Make An Insurance Claim For Garden Storm Damage

With the arrival of 'Storm Imogen', many people are likely to be contacting their insurance companies. Robert Hall explains how GardenSite can help you with making a claim for damaged garden structures such as sheds, greenhouses and fencing.

Author: Robert Hall

Written by Robert Hall.
Published on Monday, 8th of February, 2016.

February Gardening Jobs

February Gardening Jobs

Although gardening activity in February may not be so frenetic as during the summer months, there's still plenty to be done and Spring is just around the corner. Nathan James Dodd suggests the jobs you should be tackling in the garden this month.

Author: Nathan James Dodd

Written by Nathan James Dodd.
Published on Friday, 29th of January, 2016.

February Pond Maintenance

February Pond Maintenance

Dan Everton helps you look after your pond during the February with some tips on the precautions you can take to avoid the water freezing over, and advice on keeping fish at this time of the year.

Author: Dan Everton

Written by Dan Everton.
Published on Friday, 29th of January, 2016.

Halls Greenhouses Featured In TV Advertising Campaign

Halls Greenhouses Featured In TV Advertising Campaign

GardenSite's first advertisement in their new TV campaign features Halls Greenhouses, Nathan James Dodd reviews their freestanding, lean to and wall garden range.

Author: Nathan James Dodd

Written by Nathan James Dodd.
Published on Wednesday, 27th of January, 2016.