Zen Landscaping

Celebrating Natural States

  G A R D E N    H I S T O R Y   Zen gardens offer a mystical retreat into quiet refinement. Entering the gates creates opportunities leaving all one's concerns behind, relaxed while worries simply vanish. The meandering paths offer impressionistic treasures that propel gliding tranquil expressions. The Far East garden mood provides natural order of heaven and earth, balanced by elements "Yin & Yang". An ordinary person can have an extraordinary experience discovering groundedness and reassurance.
The first Zen gardens were believed to be orchestrated by Shinto's. Even though Shintoism was not a written order, its ways was through living art of landscape. Shinto's approach to landscape became an universal expression to warmly inviting outsiders. The garden space of stillness calms the mind so it can open the imagination and liberally free oneself no matter anyone's orientation.

A garden theme purpose promotes vitalizing of one's being and reminds living in immortality. In fact, Shinto's viewed all things as living, therefore include every material aspect in staging detail. Shinto's expressions were designed to promote deep contemplation for vitally to rise an ethereal like experience. This elusory experience of protruding rocks were believed to pulsate a masculine "CHI" to feel "Qi" (known as vital breath), acquiring spirit of Zen. The spotted rocks represent an ancient folklore "Sacred String of Islands" that brings immortality and longevity. The symbol of the classic red arched bridge fuses gaps within the crossing seas of islands. This "cross-over" theme within islands was believed to string a unifying awareness of transitioning separate worlds.

It was not until later around 6th century that Zen landscaping begin evolving for the purpose of enhancing worship. Zen priests use the fluid medium of dry landscape,, "Karesanui", to better enhance their ways of being. These Zen gardens transform easy into meditation for practicing monks. At nights, they would move the candle lit lanterns from the temples into the gardens so to appreciate evening open skies. As an semi-outdoor meeting hall, a Tea Room was staged with a waiting bench for the purpose of spiritual ceremonies in the garden. Whether for spiritual or art, today the classic expressions of these gardens allows everyone to appreciate the impressions these environments served, echoed through timeless years.
D E S I G N  M E T H O D S
There are no methods or rules to garden planning other than trusting intuitive spirit of meditation with design. If it feels great, then it promotes the vital source to balance of well-being. Creating comfort as a restorative theme is easily accomplished through means of backdrops. These scenery's optimally frees the spirit as it allows one to drop all negativity and disturbance so contemplation is grounded in presence. Simplistically, as far as choosing design elements, what you leave out is more important than what you leave in. Letting go of classic European gardening rules or any other hindered references will eventually free the mind and allow clean-slated reference in design. The goal is to provide an honest theme of palatable materials conducive to the surrounding. These include materials that are mostly indigenous in type. Plant material can authentically be chosen based on climate of area, aware with environmental aspects and honoring limited water resources where applicable.

  Landscaping may quietly be ornamented with accessories that splash and punctuate garden zenergy. Using concrete lanterns, arched bridges, stupas, bamboo ladles, and forged metal bells personalize space to contribute with the theme. Even indigenous rocks can be sculptured by leaving impressionistic chisel marks delivered by the human hand. Calligraphic carvings and chiseled stone monuments offer crude groupings thta complementary mix modern with ancient contemporary art forms. Through time, letting all landscape accessories weather naturally and developed green moss carpet offers a soft velvet-like feel.

Fencing materials can be tethered bamboo pieces of different assortments of flats and rounds that can bring implied boundaries, lines and textures of interest. At smaller spaces, adjusting fence heights with false accentuated vanishing points at opposite corners give gardens a sense of larger space while natural carved hedge liners become a lower profile to frame space without making it closed or forbidden.

Water basins, ponds and streams add tranquility and purity by both sound and visual form. Having a fishpond adds to the ecosystem while drawing visual attention. Taking account with gravity, water cascading from top shelves offers different sound variations from an aggressive sheet flow down to a subtle trickle. Such acoustic design variations can be manipulated as water drop sounds range from babbling, splash, gargling, pattering, etc.,, Where water is not possible, dry waterfall, dry river and dry ponds can be sculptured into a static softscape, then sound added by an obscured speaker system. Other sources that emulate water dynamics are wind chimes or selecting trees which leaves glitter to brisk of winds. Even playing with the shade and light beams through canopy of trees generate feel of flickering water as the dappled impressions of dark to light dance in contrast within settings of Yin and Yang. Using rain gutters and rain chains to cascade into stone troughs also add seasonal tranquil sounds.

  Plant elements can offer a spirit all their own. The subtle and simple palette of planting materials can give gardens micro illusion that bloom into the macro world naturally all through exercising scale. The trimming of soft sensuous masses of bushes could offer a cloud like feel. Perhaps on less dense shrubbery, the exposed base limbs can be trimmed emulating a miniature forest so to create depth and distance backdrop for composition. Conerfours trees have dignity aura with their pointed needles reaching the ground to sky. These trees reverend longevity, endured through time as believed in surviving thousands of years. As in "Bonsai" tying bamboo splines to small bushes exhilarate time of an old weathered contorted coniferous tree, assimilating expressions of surviving heavy gusted winds. Also, accenting with bamboo shoots may mask unwanted visual surroundings from neighboring yards

   Deeper redefining to John's true definition to articulate his work in action, see bellows links:
Feng Shui <FengShui Link>
National TV Interview <YouTube Link>
Unique Design Components<WabiSabi-Link>