As much as we enjoy designing low-maintenance traditional English gardens, it’s good to be asked for something different once in a while. When we were approached in 2012 to design a garden in a Japanese style, we couldn’t say no.
Our clients had travelled extensively and admired the serene combination of natural rock, stone, gravel and water of Japanese gardens. The problem was that their garden was on a less then serene slope, and was dark, tired and a bit unloved.
Somewhat ironically, having undertaken a lot of research, including watching some interesting programmes about Japanese garden design on the Japanese news channel NHK, we proposed a scheme based around a distinctly Chinese-style moon gate. The gate was to act as an entrance way but also to frame the garden from the viewpoint of a decked area with curved granite bench. The lawn area was to be levelled and replaced with a silver-grey granite gravel “sea”, surrounding islands of planting, Gniess boulders and granite stepping stones. The existing garden had some natural stone walling, so we reused this as cladding for the supporting walls.
We created a subtle, bubbling water feature from bamboo spouts and a traditional Tetsu bachi granite bowl, and the scene was completed with a hand carved granite Go Ju No Tou pagoda lantern.
The planting was a combination of Japanese and western. We used Acer palmatum, bamboo, Japanese irises and a Japanese flowering cherry, together with Hostas, Liriope, ferns, Cornus, Pinus mugo, creeping Juniper, Pittosporum tobira and a selection of grasses.