There is something uniquely soothing about Oriental Gardens that makes one want to just relax. That may be the reason many choose to plant either Japanese Gardens or Chinese Gardens near their home.
Just what is the difference between these two garden styles, besides the fact that they originated in different countries? What should you consider before designing a Chinese or Japanese garden? There are several distinguishing characteristics that you should know about before you begin to plant or even design the garden.
Before we look at what the differences are, let us consider the similarities. Both gardens are very consciously designed, with each plant carefully selected and planted. Nothing is left to chance, though the finished design may appear to be more natural.
The traditional Chinese garden is meant to recreate nature in miniature. Water features are always a part of these gardens and provide a point of tranquillity in today's busy world. Chinese Gardens are traditionally surrounded by a wall, as well, and include rock gardens and often pavilions or places to sit down and rest in peace.
While plants are a large part of this type of garden, the style naturally lends itself to winding walkways or paths. Rocks are frequently used to provide a focal point and if the area is large enough, an entire rock garden may be placed.
The plants used in Chinese Gardens have special meanings and not one is planted without careful consideration. Pine and Chinese plum trees are usually combined with bamboo and are chosen because they look great throughout winter. Peach trees, which symbolize immortality, are frequently used, as well. Pear, apricot and pomegranate trees are other options for these gardens, each with a positive message and you will also find willow trees in many gardens in China.
Flowers such as peony, lotus and orchids are the most popular found in Chinese Gardens, though others may also be included. Pruning is usually kept as natural as possible.
Gardens in Japan varied drastically depending on whether they were planted for nobles or for monks, but they were originally influenced by Chinese Gardens. Over the centuries, however, Japanese gardeners have developed their own artistic style gardens and now have a unique look.
Similar to the Chinese, Japanese Gardens always have a water feature, but may have streams or running water rather than just ponds. These may also have fish in them. Water should come from the east or southeast and flow to the west in these traditional gardens.
Rock gardens usually include volcanic rocks and white sand arranged in careful patterns. The sand represents water while the rocks are to indicate lakes or mountains, depending on their size and shape.
Tea houses and bridges are common features in today's Japanese Gardens, as well and are surrounded by specific plants. Moss is prevalent in these gardens and represents longevity. Trees, including oak, cherry, maple and apricot, are often trimmed and kept small and shapely, while flowers such as the camellia, azalea are commonly found.
While these Oriental Gardens are quite similar, a study of Chinese vs Japanese Gardens will show that there are distinct differences in style.