Infinite Spaces: The Art and Wisdom of the Japanese Garden
by Joe Earle (Editor), Julie Moir Messervy, Sadao Hibi (Photographer)

The Art of Japanese Gardens: Designing & Making Your Own Peaceful Space
by Herb L. Gustafson
Often gardeners become so enslaved to the work of maintenance and transformation that they neglect the meditative potential of their green space. Worrying over the details, the whole picture is sometimes lost. This is an attitude Herb Gustafson hopes to check in The Art of Japanese Gardens, a beautifully photographed book that creates in the reader a longing for total silence. Photographs of tranquil bridges, bright spidery Japanese maple leaves, and shimmering ponds are accompanied by unpretentious philosophical asides like "Our gardens can become a profound representation of the universe as a whole," and "We must pause to reflect on our journey thus far." Gustafson is not a stickler for historical detail: his notion of a "Japanese" garden is a hybrid of styles, some ancient, some modern. Chapters include "Boundaries," in which a variety of fences, walls, and gates are presented along with accessible descriptions of construction techniques. The third chapter explores that great dreamlike element of the traditional Japanese garden: the constant sound of running water, artificial streams where "we sit and are relaxed by the never-ending flow."

To truly carry out many of Gustafson's projects, the reader needs to be extremely handy, or planning on hiring a professional. It's also an ideal coffee-table book for the urban apartment dweller who needs to be reminded of peaceful spaces every once in a while, even when the "journey thus far" seems like a series of missed connections and splitting headaches. --Emily White

Zen in Your Garden: Creating Sacred Spaces
by Jenny Hendy

Zen Gardening
by Sunniva Harte
A Zen garden can be an oasis in a busy world, a space of calm, tranquility, and beauty, a thing apart from the hectic pace of our lives. Whether a tiny courtyard or larger outdoor space, Zen gardens have in common their few, simple elements arranged to honor nature and celebrate its changing seasons. The design of Zen Gardening contributes to our understanding of the aesthetic, as it is as artful and focused as a Zen garden itself.

How to create such harmony and peace outside our own doors and windows? Sunniva Harte's book inspires with numerous large color photos showing whole landscapes devoted to rocks, sand, and water, or cozy gardens with a few vital Zen elements. But Zen gardens are more than raked sand and a few carefully placed rocks: an entire chapter is devoted to plants for Zen gardens. It begins with a quote from the Japanese poet Kikaku--"Full autumn moon on the straw mat, pine shadow"--and goes on to explain how plants have long been valued in Japan for their changing with the seasons and their sensuousness and textural qualities. Ornamental grasses, pines, Japanese maples, iris, bamboo, mosses, and even hostas are shown used in the Zen manner, with instructions on placement, care, and pruning. Harte also gives instruction on design, architecture, pathways, and materials for Zen gardens.

Those who would like to incorporate a bit of the Zen feeling of tranquility into their everyday gardens, but who don't want to do a total garden remodel, will appreciate the chapter on ornamentation. Lovingly chosen ornaments enhance the Zen atmosphere, serving symbolic purposes as well as working as focal points and humanizing the garden. A variety of simple additions--such as stone urns and lanterns, carved Buddhas, trays of special rocks, decorative wrappings, water basins, and bonsai--personalize and lend an aura of Zen tranquility, much as Zen poet Ikkyu's poem does: "When, just as they are, white dewdrops gather on scarlet maple leaves, regard the scarlet beads!" --Valerie Easton

A Japanese Touch for Your Garden
by Kiyoshi Seike, Masanobu Kudo (Contributor), Haruzo Ohashi (Photographer), David H. Engel (Contributor)
Here is a concise introduction to the practical aspects of making a Japanese garden. Whether your garden is a spacious suburban lot, an office countyard, or a tiny inner-city backyard, you will find here hundreds of creative but time-honored ways to make maximum use of the space you have.

You will learn how to lay stones and pathways and how to create intriguing sand patterns like the ones in Zen temple gardens. You will learn about Japanese lanterns, miniature pagodas, water basins, gates, and walls, and will be shown step by step how to make a bamboo lattice fence. Notes on the care of bamboo, moss, and grass are provided as are names of native North American plants and trees that can be substituted for conventional Japanese varieties. Schematic layout plans, detailed how-to explanations, and over 130 color photographs of Japanese gardens old and new give you ideas for endless variations.

Thoroughly up-to-date in its approach and based on the principle that a garden must satisfy the gardener, not a set of inflexible guidelines, this book encourages you to choose freely from the wide range of traditional Japanese design elements that suit your needs and tastes. Whether you live in the country, city, or somewhere in between, you will discover here numerous ways to transform--simply, inexpensively, and with your own two hands--that back porch, corridor, or yard into an intimate, tranquil oasis, one that will reward your planning and work with a rich and everchanging beauty.

Creating Your Own Japanese Garden
by Takashi Sawano

Japanese Courtyard Gardens: Photographs
by Haruzo Ohashi (Photographer)

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