Garden Ideas: Inspired Details from Morikami Japanese Gardens

We were lucky enough to be able to steal away for a few days and headed to South Florida to soak up some sun, absorb some much needed Vitamin D and to fight off the winter blues and greys of Central Ohio. Three days were spent at some beautiful nature preserves- birds, wetlands and the highlight- The Morikami Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach.

The gardens are designed to represent major periods in Japanese garden design from the eighth to the twentieth centuries. According to the designer Hoichi Kurisu, "each garden is intended to express the character and ideas of a unique counterpart in Japan without attempting to duplicate those gardens and seamlessly flow together as one garden."

With over 200 acres it's needless to say the gardens were tranquil and magnificent. With a surge of interest in sustainable gardening what better way to look for inspiration than in the Japanese masters who flawlessly combine simplicity with majesty to blend the earth into their surroundings.
We were especially captivated by the small details- from bamboo stakes to border detailing... and while perhaps we were fooled by the zen genius of it all- it appears that many of the details could easily be executed by the average gardener with a talent for construction and DIY utilizing some fairly basic, natural materials.

Bamboo, of course, was prevalent and it's clever use seamlessly translated from Japanese to classic to modern with a variety of practical uses from staking shrubbery to creating benches. Rigging was precise yet so simple: lashed and knotted with rope or black twine.
Bamboo was also prevalent in creating privacy screens that, again, could so easily translate to residential spaces- yard fencing and shed or door details...
On a grander scale... Most of the garden paths were lined with giant hedges, much like hews and privet commonly found in many a garden. What was so striking was the angle at which they were pruned- not sharp or geometric but gentle slopes that often angled upward creating sweeping vistas of greenery. What a perfect way to make a space feel larger and less closed in.
So often, shadows offered the most striking of details- reminding us that if you have trees which cast amazing shadows build around them as a focal point.
And what Japanese garden would not be complete without the quintessential fave - the rock garden... shown here on a vast scale carefully raked with meditative precision. But size truly does not matter and even the linear repetition of the border alone - slate, brick and stones could be easily interpreted to a country garden or urban landscape.
Especially effective was the use of gravel composed not only of stone but of shells- whole and crushed- a great use of what the local terrain has to offer. While clearly the scale of such a garden is a space challenge for most, the details are not. Note the boulder with such a carefully composed placement of ferns and the tree trunk which forms a perfect resting spot.

For those lucky enough to have a water feature- nothing says Japanese garden quite like a coy pond. This vast pond was especially impressive with turtles and giant fish (no, seriously giant fish!).
The delicate leaves of the plant cast lively shadows on the shimmering water- a detail easy to re-create. Below bamboo reeds create a perfectly balanced fountain.
From fence finials to border edging to Peace Pole personal message statements- the details of Japanese garden design offer endless inspiration for subtle simplicity. It won't be long before Spring approaches and some of these ideas may be the perfect accent for your own garden retreat!

Inspired? Here are just a few Japanese garden resources:

All photos are our own except where noted.

1 comment:

Freeman said...

Absolutely stunning photos ... inspires me to make sure that we vistit this garden anytime we're near 'Delray Beach' (or better to visit Japan). Thanks for sharing your trip in this way.

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