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The Art of Japanese Gardens

The Art of Japanese Gardens
Herb L. Gustafson
Publication Date: 

paper, 144 p., $19.95

apanese gardens combine many approaches to garden space, some methods thousands of years old. The author in this book leads readers into an inspiring yet practical work aiming to bring the Japanese garden and its philosophies into home landscaping. Five important Japanese garden forms — the strolling path, flat sea, natural garden, teahouse and sand and stone garden — are highlighted in this book, along with suggestions for incorporating these concepts into smaller areas.

Traditional Japanese gardens have vast arrays of symbolic representations. Symbolism is important in this book, and it suggests ways in which such symbolism can be incorporated into today's garden to spiritual as well as practical effect. Color photographs highlight traditional garden ornaments such as animals, lanterns, water basins, benches and bridges. A Japanese desire for asymmetry and minimal use of flowers is pictured in the positioning of plantings and sculpture; in this book, Japanese pavilions, teahouses and a moon-viewing building are revealed in both text and picture.

Using illustrative photographs, the author discusses garden boundaries in terms of fences, walls and gates; he also focuses on interior uses of rocks, boulders and stones. Maintenance methods are listed, too. Water also plays an important role in a Japanese garden, and the author uses diagrams and photographs to depict the use of plants within ponds, waterfalls and streams.

Finally, this inspiring book gives readers a handy plant list of Japanese, common and botanical names suitable for Japanese gardens. There is also a plant list grouped by use.

— Elaine Juhl, Master Gardener and Volunteer, Chicago Botanic Garden