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04-Aug-2017 18:37

I find it fascinating to observe the way the Japanese play with space, prune and tend their plants and use their gardens.

While working extensively in Japan a few years ago, I took the opportunity to visit some of their amazing gardens, both traditional and modern.

When you are working with a plot just three metres by five metres or smaller, which is the size of many courtyard or dry gravel gardens, this is important. Many Japanese people now love roses and other plants that give colour, herbaceous plants especially.

There are many situations here, such as roof gardens, tiny low-maintenance spaces and basement gardens, where features of a Japanese garden would work brilliantly. Yoko has added peonies to hers, but she has used them in a more Japanese way by positioning them near her shed, so she cannot see them from her kitchen but “discovers” them when she pops down the path to her garden building.

These gardens are designed to be walked around, enabling you to admire a series of framed views, and you can stand back and glimpse the bridge from various cleverly sited points.

In a smaller space, a simple, large flat stone would be used to get over water, real or imaginary, wet or dry.

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This is a specialised job for professionals and is expensive.

The winding path, too, with its curvy route rather than going directly from A to B, is more Japanese. Previously, gardens were often designed to be viewed (or walked through on certain routes) and not physically used.

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