Japanese garden design bears little resemblance to traditional gardening in North America. Ever since I first experienced the Japanese Serenity Garden aside the public library in my hometown of Bethlehem, PA, I’ve appreciated the spiritual qualities which makes this more akin to art than horticulture, yet requires a profound knowledge of both (and that in no way is meant to detract from the art of traditional or western garden design).
Japanese gardens have existed for about 150 years, but remarkably are more popular outside Japan than within. It is gardening as an art form, an immersive experience designed to create a sense of spiritual well being and peace in the person who views it – and indeed, this is true. At the very young age I first saw my local Japanese garden, I experienced a great sense of peace sitting among the stones, water features and plants.
Visionary Landscapes: Japanese Garden Design in North America , written by Kendall H. Brown, Professor of Art History at California State University, features the work of 5 masters of Japanese gardening: Hoichi Kurisu, Takeo Uesugi, David Slawson, Shin Abe, and Marc Peter Keane. The book shows how each designer interprets the style and meaning of the Japanese garden with their innovative, unique designs in public, private and commercial spaces across the world. It includes beautiful color photos of the designer’s best, most recent designs, to show the unique interpretations of these modern masters.
Like music, dance, painting, literature and photography, the art of Japanese garden design is forever evolving, nurtured by principles of the original designers interpreted through the techniques of modern designers. Visionary Landscapes beautifully communicates that aesthetic.
Images from Visionary Landscapes: