Garden Accents Inspired by the East
Well-tended gardens with meaningful features play a crucial role in Asian culture and beliefs. In typical Western gardens, plants are collected and placed together in bunches. In Asian gardens however, plants are used sparingly and carefully selected for meaning. Create your own peaceful oasis with a touch of tranquility that showcases the rich history of China, Japan, India, and more.
Elements of Asian Garden Decor
Elements of Asian gardens are as varied as the cultures and beliefs they originate from. Everything is symbolic and has meaning and purpose, from plants to statues. To achieve authenticity, pay attention to subtle differences in designs. Chinese gardens focus on blending nature and culture with park-like settings. Japanese gardens are minimal and place an emphasis on being seen as art. Hindu gardens are a tropical paradise, with bright colors and fragrant flowers.
Rocks and stones
Rock placement is a crucial part of Asian garden design as they are believed to contain spirts. They also represent strength and power. They are placed vertically or horizontally, each with its own meaning. Stepping stones create winding paths.
Shrubs and trees
Azaleas, pine trees, ferns, Japanese maples, cherry (representing revival) and plum (representing happiness) trees, and moss are some of the most common types of plants. Bamboo (or a bamboo fence) is a must. It provides a natural screen and separates the garden from the outside world and represents longevity. Hindu gardens feature more tropical options like palm and banyan trees.
Flowers and vines
Unless you count flowering trees, flowers are rarely featured in Japanese and Chinese gardens, since shape and form are more important. For Hindu gardens, on the other hand, blooms and vines are a main focal point. Orchids, birds of paradise, plumeria, and trumpet vines are all traditional choices.
Water is life itself, and that’s what it represents. Water features include reflecting ponds and waterfalls. Of course, water plants and Koi are a must. The lotus represents purity and good fortune. Since they know how to swim against the current, Koi represent courage and perseverance.
Garden statues are used sparingly but purposefully in Asian gardens. One of the most popular choices are Japanese stone lanterns (learn more about these below). Buddha statues are another typical feature. Other statue ideas include small pagodas, Buddha statues, and dragon statues which bring good luck. A statue placed around a bend in a stone path brings an element of surprise and delight.
Wind chimes are hung around temples and private homes to maximize the flow of chi. If your garden follows Feng Shui, adding chimes are a must. Just keep in mind, there are best-practices on where to place based on the number of pipes. Also avoid hanging from trees, as it is believed the spirit of the metal clashes with the spirit of the wood and creates disharmony.
In Japanese gardens, bridges are a very important symbol. They represent a crossing from one world to the next, which is similar to what happens when entering a garden space. Many garden bridges are red, a meaning of which is transformation.
Gravel or sand
Both of these elements feature heavily in Zen gardens. In these types of gardens, white sand symbolizes the movement of water. A Zen garden is very minimal. Its features include lots of rocks, gravel, stone, and wood. There are typically very few plants and no water.
Toro: Japanese Stone Lanterns
One of our most popular requests are for Japanese stone lanterns. While they are a staple of Asian garden decor now, their origins do not stem from there. Introduced to Japan from Korea in the 6th century, they were used as part of Chinese Buddhist tradition. Their original purpose was simply as votive offerings of light. The light in the lamp represents the teaching of Buddha, which help overcome the darkness of ignorance.
The Japanese adopted the votive offering practice into their own Shinto beliefs. From there, the stone lights evolved from being offerings to a more practical use as lanterns lighting shrine and temple precincts. Secular uses for the stone lanterns began in the 16th century. Japanese tea masters started using them to light the way to tea gardens. Wealthy homeowners used them as decorative objects in their private gardens, a practice which continues today.
Aquatic & Garden Decor is your local source for the perfect Asian garden decor to complement your outdoor space. Stop by today to see our full collection!