August 20, 2013
Of course, Japan is most famous for its ‘dry’ rock gardens, and none are more famous than the extremely pared down example at the Temple of the Dragon at Peace at Ryoan-ji, in Kyoto. Its raked pebbles and poetically placed boulders are an exercise in perfect restraint. But on my most recent visit, what I was even more struck by was the subtle complexity of the ‘wet’ gardens around the same temple. Towering bamboo that fluttered in the breeze, massive elms and majestic weeping cherry trees create this almost magical environment. Subtle shifts in perspective, gradated foregrounds to background, shifts in density of foliage and texture of plants creates a series of framed ‘vignettes’. Mossy ground cover and circular accumulations of lily pads add a sculptural dimension, as well. While you’re most definitely in nature, it’s nature curated to the max. The effect is beguiling, the desire to rest a while and contemplate, compelling. How extraordinary it would be to have the chance to mimic this nuanced, lush effect in one of our house projects – and what a pleasure to live with it would be!