A Japanese garden might be just the thing for city dwellers tight on space who may wish to create a tranquil oasis of calm. While the gardens can be designed in all shapes and sizes, traditional Japanese gardens are created for smaller spaces, reflecting the Japanese desire to create serene gardens, even in middle of the busiest of cities. Using sculpture, wooden features, pebbles, sand, bamboo, ponds, and flowing water - the garden becomes an art form. The Zen and Shinto traditions form the cornerstone of Japanese gardening and, because of this, the gardens enhance reflective state of mind.
The basic methods of scenery in are a reduced scale, symbolization, and stylised views. The Japanese preference for small `scenes' and the reflective approach of Zen Buddhism combine effortlessly to produce small landscaped `gardens' that peace of mind to counter the effects of high-density living. The reduced scale is the art of taking an actual scene from nature, hills, ponds, trees, and reproducing it on a smaller scale. Symbolization also plays a big part. An example of this would be using white sand to suggest a river.
Japanese gardens can generally be split into two different styles. The tsukiyami garden is a hill garden and , generally, made up of hills and ponds. The hiraniwa, which is the complete opposite of the tsukiyami garden, is flat without any hills or ponds. But designing a Japanese-inspired garden involves more than buying a lantern or wooden bridge. I suggest that you take the basics of the Asian style and incorporate it with your own taste and desires.
The traditional design elements used in Japanese gardening include rocks, gravel, ponds, moss, stones, wooden features, stone ornaments and hedges. Modern touches such as decking, spot lighting, mirrors or bamboo or wooden furniture can give your particular garden a contemporary edge. Rocks, sand and large stones are used as focal points and bring a presence of tranquility to the garden but you can incorporate these with tasteful paving stones or slate for patio or courtyard areas.
According to the Shinto tradition, rocks symbolise the spirit of nature. Gravel defines surface and is used to mimic the flow of water. Stones help to create a structure to the space. Water;is the life force flowing through a Japanese garden and you often see still pools adorned with shimmering orange goldfish, dancing beneath the surface; restful, trickling fountains are also popular. The goal is to acheive balance and harmony within the environment.
There are many diverse types of plants that work beautifully in Japanese gardening, the main one being Bonsai. Bonsai is the ancient practice of training everyday, normal plants, such as Pine, Cypress, Holly, Cedar, Cherry, Maple, and Beech, to look like big, old trees just in miniature form. These trees range from five centimeters to one meter and trained to maintain a smaller form by pruning, re-potting, pinching of growth, and wiring the branches.
A garden is a wonderful place to relax and meditate. And with a little planning, a touch of creativity and a few key elements , you can create an oasis of calm in the smallest of areas.
SMALL GARDENS CAN BE WONDERFUL, SO WHY NOT GO FOR YOUR OWN MINIATURE LANDSCAPE ON YOUR ROOF, PATIO OR BALCONY?
People choose balcony, patio, and courtyard gardening for lots of different reasons. Some are moving from a big family home to a smaller house, some don’t want the bother of maintaining a large property, and some choose to live in smaller apartments, which may be closer to the city. Whatever the reason, this doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the bliss of owning a garden, because no space is too small for a mini-garden. One plant in a pot is a garden. In fact, ever more gardening options are available in terms of containers, half-barrels, window boxes and troughs– the list is filled with possibilities.
Planning a Mini- Garden
When planning your mini garden there are a number of things to consider. In theory, containers overflowing with flowers, herbs, grasses and vegetables can transform balconies and porches into green and leafy retreats. In reality, the effect is often closer to "patio dotted with random plants," so you need to get organised. The first thing is to determine is what purpose this space will serve. Do you want to grow vegetables, entertain loved ones or meditate – try to pin down what you actually want from your garden.
If possible, take a chair and sit down, move it around and find the place that feels best - somewhere relaxing with good light. Wherever that is, place your seating such as a wicker chair, wooden bench, dining furniture, swing, etc. Do you want a formal or casual setting? What areas of interest do you want? Do you want to incorporate a particular theme?Original elements such as water, flowers, vegetables, mirrors, ponds, colour, etc. add the finishing touches to your mini garden. Finally, make a plan particularly if you are going to add elements such as slate, decking or feature walls.
Creating a Small Space Garden
Containers. I recommend white or light coloured pots for patio gardening, as darker colors absorb too much sun and transfer heat to the soil very rapidly. If you use dark containers, plants that are watered in the morning (which is the right time) will probably wilt from dehydration and have to be watered again in the late afternoon. Remember that wet soil weighs a lot so if you garden on a balcony weight restrictions may apply. Containers made from lighter weight materials such as fibreglass are ideal for roof or balcony gardens. Styles of containers include hanging baskets, wood window boxes, galvanized buckets, and all manner of recycled objects.
Scale. You need to use space cleverly in your mini garden. For example, small plants look more balanced in small containers, large plants in bigger pots. I relish the effect of vines growing on trellis in half-barrels with smaller plants edging the container. Over the years, I have grown many different vines in half barrels but have found that the effect of scarlet runner pole beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) is really a knockout with their gorgeous red flowers and you can eat them too.
Microclimates. So, what plants go where? Choose plants best suited to the conditions suitable for their optimum growth. Plants such as begonia (Begonia x semperflorens), coleus (Coleus x hybridous), and Fuchsia (Fuchsia x hybrida) love shaded, darker areas while geraniums (Pelargonium x hortorum), marigolds (Tagetes erecta), and petunia (Petunia x hybrida) flourish in the sunlight. Wind can also be a factor and damage delicate plants. Choose varieties that are wind tolerant such as many of the grasses; the sound of the rustling of the grasses as the wind blows through them is wonderfully relaxing.
Soil. I generally buy pre-mixed potting soil from local garden centers or nurseries. I find that these are lighter to carry, sterilized to stop weed seeds from germinating, and contain generous amounts of peat moss that helps loosen the soil so that it will not compact in pots.
Watering. Check every day as potted plants often dry out more quickly. This is especially true if you are using earthenware pots. Make sure pots have holes for water to drain out, as roots sitting in water will rot. When there has been a lot of rain - we do live in Ireland - empty saucers that are full.
Fertiliser. Because they need to be watered often, container plants require fertiliser on a more consistent basis then plants in the soil do. Use organic fertilisers ( if you can ) such as bone meal, or fish emulsion, particularly if the soil is going to be added to the garden at the end of the season, as many commercial fertilisers harm the wildlife.
Function. When you are designing your mini garden you are actually designing an outdoor room. Remember that this can be colour co-ordinated to appear as an extension of your house. I move my house plants outside for the summer (which they love) and develop these areas as garden rooms.
Focal point. Create a point of interest such as a dramatic urn, unusual plant or tree, colour, or a water feature. Popular vines such as Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) will grow in a big container and come back year after year. Create a sense of mystique by hiding a plant or ornament behind something else to give the pleasure of finding it.
Colour. Where space is tight, use three colours such as pinks, blues, and whites; reds, oranges, and yellows; reds, whites, and blues; or reds, whites, and purples that provide a stylish backdrop for your garden. Cool colours make the space look larger and brighter while deep colours shrink spaces. A white and green colour theme called a ‘moon garden’ is more a sophisticated look at night is just wonderful. Many white flowers are fragrant at night as well.
Lighting. I especially like pretty fairy lights twisted through branches and interwoven throughout a trellis for a shabby chic look. Up lighting with tiny spotlights can put attention on a particular area for evening entertaining. Magical.
If you measure your skill as a gardener by the beauty of your roses, don't leave things to chance. For perfect roses you must pamper your plants. Strong, healthy buds will produce the most beautiful blossoms. To stop your rose bushes wasting precious nutrients on weak shoots, nip out any old and withered ones. Also check for branches that may be tangled together, as weak, damaged or brittle stems provide easy access for disease spores.
Hard pruning should always carried out in winter - so February is the ideal month to give your roses some care and attention . You can prune roses time until mid-March , so begin by cutting stems back by two-thirds. In any rose garden there are some general requirements. Roses do need a rich garden soil, sunlight, and plenty of water it they are to thrive. So let's begin to learn rose gardening with where your roses will "live."
The Rose Bed
Almost any soil is, or can be made into, nutrient rich garden soil. The best option for your rose bed is a well-drained, fertile, light soil around two feet deep. A pH between 6.0 - and 6.5 is perfect. Ensure that your rose bed gets at least 4 hours of full sunlight a day, with 6 hours being best.
Buying Your Roses:
There are many wonderful types of rose available at local nurseries and garden centers. They will come as either "bare root" roses, or in pots (packaged).Bare-root roses come with the roots protected in a moist packaging substance. Purchase these roses as close to planting time as you can, and plant them while they are dormant. Depending on your climate, the best planting time is late winter or early spring, after any frozen ground has thawed, so February is the ideal month to trend to your rose garden.
How To Plant Bare Root Roses:
1. Before attempting to plant, remember to soak the roots in water overnight.
2. Dig a hole and create a small mound of soil in the bottom of it. Put the plant on the mounds, spreading the roots evenly around the soil.
3. Place the plant so the bud union is at the same level as the ground surface.
4. Cover the roots with loose soil and press gently with your fingertips. Add more soil until the hole is half full, then fill with water, making sure the liquid has been absorbed.
5. Fill the hole with soil, and you're finished!
How To Plant Container, or Packaged, Roses:
1. To plant the rose while it is still dormant, take it out of the box and plant it like a bare-root rose.
2. If the rose is growing (showing leaves and flowers), cut the bottom of the container off, and cut several openings on each side. You want the roots to be unrestricted.
3. Set the rose in the planting hole to the right depth. Fill the hole with soil and water.
Mulching your roses is good for any soil and in any climate. It is extremely helpful in dry areas. Mulch keeps the soil temperature steady, and prevents heavy rain from causing the top soil to cake up. Mulching also helps to controls weeds.
Roses need to receive 1 inch of water per week. What's the best way? Watering deeply once a week, instead of watering lightly more often. Overhead sprinkling is great when done in the morning. This lets the foliage dry out before nightfall. Using soaker hoses or other drip-irrigation systems may be a more convenient way to water your roses.
It's fairly easy to help most roses get safely through winter. Start by shoveling a protective mound of soil around the base of the rose. Then add a few scoops of mulch around the base, and they should stay well insulated.
As you learn rose gardening, you'll find that much satisfaction comes from pruning your roses. By pruning, you remove old wood and encourage sap to flow into younger and stronger branches.
Most roses need moderately light pruning. Prune roses in late winter or in early spring, as soon as the buds begin to swell, but before they start to open. In warm climates, pruning can be a year-round activity.
Of course, there is more to learn about rose gardening... but these basics will see that you're off to a good start. The main thing is to enjoy the beauty and blessings our roses bring us every day!