Garden Design Ideas from the East and West: The Impact of Culture and Religion on Topiary
Many historians have discovered evidence of gardens in some of the oldest civilizations. These images depict magnificent lotus ponds surrounded by symmetrical rows of acacias and palms. It is fascinating to note that gardening began as a display of high artistry and refinement exclusive to members of the nobility. Soon, this art form reached other groups such as monks, warriors, and politicians. Ornamental gardening became prized for its ability to mirror religious beliefs and aesthetic concerns.
In the East, ornamental gardening became well-developed in Japan. Japanese gardening such as Nihon Teien was originally a product of much earlier Chinese influences. The Zen master Kokan Shiren’s seminal work on miniature landscape gardens made a significant impact in the development of Nihon Teien.
Historical accounts have indicated that the art of Nihon Teien was transferred from teacher to student. These accounts also record that a student was not allowed to create gardens unless the knowledge was passed orally.
Today, Nihon Teien is widely known around the world, and is greatly appreciated as a superb example of Japanese refinement. There are three substantial kinds of Nihon Teien- one of these being Zen-niwa or sand-and-stone gardening. Generally found in Zen monasteries and temples, Zen-niwa uses raked sand, vertical stones, and some plants to represent animals, bodies of land, and water. Also known as Kare-san-sui, this garden is filled with imagery apt for the sacred austerities of Zen Buddhism.
Ponds, streams, hills, and stones are reproduced in miniature form, and allude to the majestic landscapes of both China and Japan.
The use of artificial hills and small bodies of water to portray landscapes are some of the garden design ideas present in traditional Japanese garden styles. You can see such gardens in popular culture, especially in Japanese-themed movies and programs.
As teahouses are abundant in Japan, it is no longer unusual if many people know how to design a garden suitable for holding tea ceremonies and other ceremonies. Popularly referred to as Chaniwa, these teahouse gardens exude melancholy and the sense of absolute withdrawal from the world. Chaniwa gardens are often prevalent in teahouses, and are distinguished by elements like stones, lanterns, and stone basins.
Western flower garden design ideas such as the unique Spanish garden style that draws inspiration from the various aesthetics of Islamic, Moorish, Persian and Catholic traditions are also famous. The traditional Spanish garden style is characterized by the use of terra cotta and clay tiles. Bright flowers, fruit trees, and sitting areas comprise the trademark Spanish garden used in houses and public spaces worldwide.
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