We have recently been asked to advise on developing a zen garden for a residential client. Esterni's philosophy and 'look' is grown out of the rugged, dry country of the Maremma, in southern Tuscany, and this project, at first glance, is quite removed; for those of you who have been exploring our blog, we posted some time ago a link to a great book, The Modern Japanese Garden (right hand column), and so we are bringing some research images in this post.
Co-incidentally I was sent a picture of a friend's walking holiday exploring Japanese landscapes, so I include that here as it is, I think, nature at its best....
The East/West connection I am working with is based on a similar regard for elements that stand against time and the seasons, stone, water and evergreen planting: while in Italy these elements are used to suggest coolness and shade, in Japan they re-inforce the mysterious, hidden, wet glades of an enclosed and secretive nature. Granite is prevalent in Japan, found naturally as large stones, or beautifully and soulfully carved by skilled craftsmen. Stones can be laid in many metaphorical patterns: my favourite is a concentric configuration called 'fallen petals'.
Bamboos and camelias replace the large box and laurel hedges of the renaissance garden, but are similarly used to define space, bring structure and stillness to the garden and be a strong visual presence in the winter months.
Water is silent, not the playful, tall arcs of fountains, but contemplative, large and mainly still ponds.
After these ruminations..enjoy the images, all gratefully borrowed from the Modern Japanese Garden.
And finally, a walk through long grass....