Zen Garden

7 Oct, '07

Zen Garden

What I thought I would do as a rockery, demanded to be made into a Zen/Orental garden instead! Don’t look at me, it all started with the devil getting into my sub-conscience and demanding that I get some bamboo for the background.

The only place I knew I was to get that bamboo was from Jannusan Exotics and that trip resulted in not only getting some tall Yellow Bamboo, but also Dwarf Buddha Belly Bamboo too along with a volcano lamp and a sitting Buddha statue!

At the apex of the plot I planted some asparagus and in front of and to the sides of the lamp I planted red penisitum grass and finished off the first phase of planting with a nice moderately sized agave to give a contrast in texture and colour.

I must say that I am rather happy with how it is turning out so far, even with the dire warnings by my wife that the bamboo will uncontrollably spread and it would be a murderous exercise to remove it.

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  1. barry says:

    A zen garden is very minimal, called karesansui “dry mountain water”. They feature beds of raked gravel and large stones with minimal foliage, usually just moss such as the famous one as Ryoan-Ji temple.

    Since you’re adding plants you’ll be going for a courtyard look. I would add some boulders, if you can. Group them in even numbers and they should look a part of the landscape rather than sitting on top (so, round boulders would be buried enough they look anchored). They provide the “backbone” of the garden and give it a more natural appearance. You don’t need them, but typically, Japanese courtyard gardens will have them.

    Another key is, Japanese gardens as a whole are rarely full of flowers. They have them, but they aren’t a riot of color like western perrenial borders. Foliage and plant form is much more important

    I would include some sort of small tree as well to provide height (with interesting form and foliage). You could place the buddha statue under it as a sort of reminder of his enlightenment under the bodhi tree.

    Groupings of plants is preferable to a carpet of them. Also, plants should be grouped in odd numbers, and you want to avoid symmetry, as Japanese gardens strive to replicate nature and the way plants grow in nature (although a much more idealized form).

  2. Mahmood says:

    I have been reading about them and soon realised that my “Zen Garden” does not fit the bill. That’s why you might have noticed that I also added “oriental garden” to the posts I made in this series, I even considered calling it my “Zen Patch” but I don’t think it’s a catchy name nor does it fit either. Your suggestion of a “Courtyard” is perfect; hence, it shall now be dubbed “Oriental Courtyard Garden” and this time I shall strive to make it to fit the name as much as possible.

    I’ve been looking for some shrubs which might do well there and keep with the theme. I’ve looked at Golden ficus but I have so many of those dotted around the garden that I’m not that enthusiastic about that idea. The same goes for “box” plants too.

    I would love to approach this, for instance, which I fell in love with the first time I saw it but have no idea (yet) on how to go about it:

    I would love to know if any of the plants there, especially the “mushroom-head-like” trees/shrubs and if they would actually grow in Bahrain.

  3. barry says:

    It’s hard to tell what any of them are, but the palms appear to be Bismarck palms (Bismarckia nobilis), which comes from hot dry plains in Africa. I don’t see why such a palm wouldn’t grow in Bahrain as long as it gets some water.

    I rather like courtyard gardens, as they demonstrage a fantastic garden in a small space. I’m considering doing the same thing in a small plot of land next to the house. Of course, I’ve got a palm there that survived the cold snap last winter so I don’t want to dig that out. However, I’ve got a lot of Dietes bicolor that need to be dug up, divided, and planted as a “field” so I can get a big swath. They need to be moved because they just aren’t as floriferous as they should be.

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