Zen gardens are havens for contemplation, reflecting the beauty of nature and the aesthetic sense of the gardener. Some represent vast landscapes in a small area, some use raked gravel to represent rushing water, while others feature natural stones signifying symbolic animals such as turtles and cranes. Zen Gardening also provide an ecofriendly alternative to the old-fashioned lawn -- they require little or no water, while the use of fertilizers and pesticides is anathema to the spirit of the Zen garden.
With its practical advice on plant selection, and numerous examples of how modern gardens are transformed into beautiful, harmonious refuges, Zen Gardening places every aspect of creating a Zen garden at the hands of today's gardeners. This unique book simplifies the complex principes adopted centuries ago by Buddhist monks, explores their aims in creating outdoor spaces along Zen principles, and reveals the meaning of the different elements and their juxtaposition. Gardeners will learn to create a controlled and harmonious environment -- and, in the process, to nourish the spirit and allow anxiety to gently subside, making room for quiet reflection.
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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 EastonFrom the Inside Flap:
Like a restorative balm, Zen gardening is an antidote to the stresses of our busy modern lifestyles. A Zen garden can create a feeling of space in the smallest of city plots, or import a sense of order and spirit of tranquility and calm.
The classical Zen Gardens were devised by Japanese monks and are revered as national monuments. In explaining and interpreting the basis of the philosophy and its symbolism, Zen gardening allows gardeners to benefit from the purity of thought that took its traditional exponents decades of dedication and contemplation to define.
The Zen Garden puts us in touch with the elements. A single rock might represent the strength of mountains, clipped bushed the billowing clouds, gravel or slate moving water; each stone, each ornament is chosen and placed to provide wabi-a humble yet refined beauty. But Zen principles can equally be interpreted to bring balance, and therefore greater harmony and a sense of peace.
Whether you fully embrace Zen or simply apply its ideas to the layout and upkeep of a more conventional design, your garden will gain a vital natural equilibrium. A Zen-influenced garden is environmentally friendly-raked sands is less demanding on water than a lawn, and pesticides are anathema to the Zen philosophy-and a pleasure not a tyranny to tend.
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