Making a Japanese garden – Californian Japanese Gardeners Struggle And What We Can Learn

Japanese immigrants into the US brought with them an ordered way of life that seemed odd to Americans, they arrived on the West coast of the US in large numbers and had to endure restrictive laws and the aftermath of World War 2 when they were not held in great esteem by the locals.They were viewed with suspicion.

Time is a great healer and breaks down the barriers of persecutuion and America’s Japanese American community started to grow and flourish. Gardening is something that comes easy to the Japanese, at school they are routinely taught how to prune and plant vegetables and these homegrown skills were useful when faced with living in a new country with limited language skills.

In Hollywood and other parts of California an Oriental or Japanese garden were considered status symbols. A Pith helmeted gardener of Japanese origin was an essential requirement. Today things are very different as most American’s opt for ‘Cut and Blow’ gardens – they are simpleand easy to maintain.

Having said that some of America’s best and most stunning Japanese gardens can be found on the West coast from California to Washington state.

On an individual home basis making a Japanese garden is not top of the agenda as they are considered expensive, hard to maintain and take up a lot of space. Only one of those excuses is true. Maintenance is significant and if you want to make a Japanese garden or get one designed for you they do take an awful lot of care and attention.

In a way a Japanese garden is a way of life. For America’s Japanese gardener’s their lives are changing. 74 year old Tadashi Hamada has been a gardener for 50 years , he is an expert pruner , understands Japanese plants and trees like Hollywood Juniper Acers and the impressive King Sago Palm.

All of these plants , shrubs and trees need care. A King Sago Palm costs around $6000 dollars and Tadashi squirms at the many he sees that are just left to be. “Too many bushes die inside because the Sun doesn’t hit it” he says ” You gotta cut them and shape them up” the alternative is a slow irreversible death for a tree or bush.

He has an air of dissapointment in the way gardening has changed and to you and I as Japanese garden lovers we would be sad at the demise of so many interesting gardens shaped and tended so many years ago.

I think as enthusiasts we have a responsibility to Japanese gardening outside of Japan to try and do our bit. Visit Japanese gardens in your area and further afield , read books, talk to experts and practice what we have learned on our own Japanese garden projects. A Japanese garden IS a commitment – for things so beautiful on the eye the workload is significant but manageable!

Making a Japanese garden – this website is about encouraging people to not only have a Japanese garden but to help them decide on what type , size, what to put in it and why, how to maintain it and hopefully inspire a few positive thoughts about these gardening works of art along the way!

A garden or yard can be transformed with a Japanese garden , it is worth the effort whatever size of space you have. There are design experts out there near where you live or you can be adveturous and learn all about them and do-it-yourself! What a challenge!!

There are lots of pieces of useful information on this subject and on my other Japanese garden website http:www.japzen.wordpress.com . If you prefer the idea of a ‘Rock’ garden and the simplicity it offers go to: http://www.whatisazengarden.com .

 

 

 

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