What’s the best way of going about giving a flavour of Japan to a garden in deepest Surrey? This was the question I asked myself after my first visit to this garden.
The owners of this garden have visited Japan a number of times and fallen in love with the style of garden they saw there, and wanted that calm, ordered atmosphere in their own garden.
On a practical note, they also wanted somewhere sheltered to sit, storage for recycling bins, and an area of lawn. Essentially, somewhere where they could relax and enjoy the space, with as little work as possible to keep it looking good.
They had taken lots of photos in Japan, so we looked through these and chatted about how they’d like the garden to look. All this was interpreted into the design so that it would fit in to a European setting.
A Japanese style garden can often end up as a bit of a pastiche, stuffed full of oriental artefacts that make it look very busy. It should be a tranquil place with simple shapes that are often repeated to recreate the landscape.
Creating that calm, peaceful atmosphere was key to the design, but first the garden had to be cleared, the design marked out to scale and then gradually re-built.
Clearing the garden:
The paths are in and the pergola is nearly finished:
This is a corner of the garden before work began:
and here’s that same area with the completed pergola and plenty of room for the whole family to sit round the table:
These black grasses were planted in the gravel next to the pergola:
Here’s another corner of the garden before work started:
and this is what it looks like after-wards, the pink swing has been replaced by a smart, comfortable bench:
A beautiful granite Natsume bachi with a bamboo ladle was the only Japanese object chosen :
These are traditionally placed at the entrance to a temple to wash your hands before you enter. Apparently it’s deliberately low so that you have to bend down in a deferential manner.
Rain water trickles down the copper rain-chains into bowls at two corners of the pergola .
The paths and shape of the pergola were designed to have a subtle Japanese feel to them:
I always like to keep any existing, mature plants and incorporate them into the the new garden it makes sense and contributes to a more sustainable approach. Some, like a large Holly, were pruned and clipped to fit in with the design.
The new plants are mostly evergreen with smooth, rounded shapes and there are a few flowering shrubs. Climbing plants will cover the fence, their style reinforces the Japanese look:
I went back to see the owners and take photos a few months later, it’s lovely to see it all developing. This is what they had to say:
“The garden had once looked good but had become over-mature and in the last few years had ‘got away from me’. So much needed doing. Jill’s ideas and design opened up the garden beautifully, and her help with contractors and visits as work progressed kept everything on track. It’s now an excellent (and enjoyable!) fit with the house and our lifestyle.”
Hard to imagine that when it was planted in Spring we were told that drought weather conditions were approaching. Fortunately that didn’t happen and we had more than enough rain, which was a bit of a wash-out as a Summer, but great for this garden.
Hover your mouse over the photos for the names of plants.
images: Jill Anderson