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Today's gardeners can transform their landscape into a serenely lovely Japanese tea garden. TIP: Our expert gardening advisor, Karen Thurber adds, "The oldest Japanese Garden in the United States can be found in San Francisco.
Traditional Japanese tea gardens were divided into two distinct areas separated by a simple barrier, like a bamboo gate or a moss-covered rock wall, with an opening to walk through.
This outer garden would generally be filled with an ornamental tree, a few shrubs and plants, and a water element such as a waterfall, small garden pond or pool.
Placed somewhere before the entry way to the inner garden, a stone water basin would be set where visitors could conveniently rinse their mouths and hands. Ideally, as the path drew closer and into the inner garden, the scenery should become more restful. As mentioned previously, traditional Japanese gardens of any style feature a water element. People looking for a way to brighten up their gardens, whether indoor or outdoor, can stand to gain a lot by looking at the possibility of including water features.
When it comes to materials, water features in Japanese style gardens are mostly made of ceramic or stone. Finally, if you want to use water features for Japanese style gardens, consult someone with some insight on how it’s done. The stunningly beautiful Passage is where garden design ideas inspired by ancient Japanese Tea Gardens. The idea behind "roji" (or "passageway"), an ancient tea garden, is that the "garden was designed not to be viewed from a single location, but as a series of experiences along a path leading to the tea ceremony." It can be appreciated from many locations - not just looking into the backyard from a kitchen window, as we do. The viewing areas in The Passage include a parking court and entry garden with a curving fieldstone wall that emerges from the woods, a steam garden, a courtyard garden, perennial borders, a woodland path, and a meditation circle.
In ancient tea gardens, one would find a wooden arbor defined with mortise and tenon joints, but in The Passage, an arbor is made up of a grid of copper piping, strong enough for hardy and fast-growing Wisteria vines.

In the perennial garden, the second Tsukubai - the Garden Sink - "incorporates copper detailing of the shower and arbor". By the end of the 16th century, the elaborate Japanese tea ceremony was brought from the main house to a small shelter within its own special garden.
The first part of the garden was meant to entice--to create a mood of anticipation for the coming ceremony.
Keep in mind that traditional tea gardens were kept deliberately woodsy and rustic to demonstrate the transition between the outer world of the marketplace to the tranquil world of nature. Depending on your landscape and the maintenance level you wish to employ, there is one perfect for your garden. A large stone Japanese lantern called a kotoji doro is a focal point in itself, but there are simple lanterns as well.
There are countless variations that range from elaborate fountains, waterfalls and ponds and streams to cascading showers that instantly lift up a garden or open space. The simplicity of this type of garden is valued for its Zen properties or abilities to ease the mind and the body.
There’s an art to creating Japanese gardens and different elements must be added and balanced together to make the garden flow well. The Passage garden ideas came from the practicing Buddhist owners, and the design was a collaborative effort from landscape contractor and architect, and different artists to create a spiritual retreat to accommodate everyday functions as well as a space in which to be nurtured and find rest and peace.
The garden is on a wooded, 10-acre lot in New England, Massachusetts, on which an existing house stood for about 20 years. Drawing from the design ideas of traditional rice paper lanterns, the shower is constructed of copper pipes and wood slats and is illuminated through a custom fiber optic system. The roji might be set with stepping stones or raised wooden planks flanked on either side by a garden pool filled with koi. It’s all about balance, for the Japanese, and this also reflects in the water features that they employ.

You must also know exactly how much space you have before deciding on what kind of garden you would like to create. In this way, they experienced the garden and along the way, shed their cares and anxieties before entering the spiritual mood of the teahouse. When designing this aspect of your own tea garden, there are many design possibilities discussed later in the article. In a dry setting, rock and gravel placement could represent water in the garden design, but most Japanese gardens always contained at least one water feature. The tea house itself would be made from simple materials and even present an austere presence--nothing to detract from the natural surroundings. The idea is to keep water continuously flowing and going around to promote a sense of equilibrium. The good thing about Japanese gardens is that they can be built on pockets of your garden to create spaces that you can hide away in to relax.
Today's gardeners and landscapers adapt any elements they choose most appropriate for their space. A raised deck that zigzags along a water feature is suitable for tea garden and even simple bridges made from stone or wood could be employed to great effect. Raised stepping stones sitting above shallow water is a particularly nice way to incorporate a Japanese touch into your design.
A more elaborate waterfall could even flank a side of the garden path in a hilly area where such a natural occurring stream of water seems right at home. It is not their desire to master nature as many western gardens do, but simply to interpret it and mirror it with their own simple designs.

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