Beauty in
all Seasons

The Japanese Garden

Traditional Japanese gardens follow a design philosophy that is not focused solely on a peak time of the year, but rather on bringing out the best possible appearance of a garden throughout the whole year, across all seasons and the conditions that come with them.

On my last visit to the Gärten der Welt in Berlin in April, I noticed that remarkably few plants had started to flower. Berlin is, after all, in a notoriously bad weather situation by German standards. In most years we have either two or eleven seasons, depending on how you look at it. So I wasn’t surprised to see anything green apart from the lawn and a few scattered pine trees. Admittedly, it was not the ideal time of year to visit a local garden, but the change of seasons, no matter how brief, does have its charm.

Die Gärten der Welt take their name from the fact that the grounds feature a number of different garden cabinets that showcase typical vegetation from the respective countries. If this is not so easy for climatic reasons (e.g. Australia), these cabinets offer corresponding suggorates and metaphors, evoke the feeling you where in the respective country.

The East Asian Gardens

Among others, you will find a Japanese, a Korean and a Chinese garden. What stands out in these three gardens is greenery that is green and looks beautiful and natural even in winter and early spring. Where the Chinese garden works primarily with bamboo, the Korean and especially the Japanese garden go one step further by not only combining different wintergreen plants with summergreen species, but by working with the topology of the garden itself. This is especially visible in the Japanese garden.

This means that in the Japanese garden you almost completely forget that the beginning of spring is yet to come. Even in the absence of almost all summer-flowering plants, this landscaped garden is a full, lush green. The skilful mounding, where nothing is left to chance, creates a seemingly far reaching landscape into which one can look from different angles without “seeing the end.” This evokes the feeling of being in a completely different place. This feeling is reinforced even more when you leave this small complex and step back onto the flat meadow with its bare deciduous trees.

The true achievement of the architects of these east asian gardens becomes particularly evident when you are inside the garden and do not have the feeling that you are standing in a artificially built environment. This is a true lesson in [[environment-based-design]] that we should take into account more often.