What We Can Learn From Asian Gardens
Oriental gardens, initially created by the emperors of Asian countries, were opulent in symbolism of both philosophy and religion. When the ancient Chinese theories of garden design were brought to Japan and other Asian countries, certain religious elements were retained. Perhaps the mystical basics of these garden design is a rewarding study in itself. The main appeal of their designs to most gardeners, is found in their outstanding beauty. While the lessons to be learned from the subtlety and serenity of their composition, is a peek into the almost universal Asian insight and appreciation of nature.
Just as significant are the aesthetic considerations, along with the charm and character of the design alone upon which the Asian garden must stand or fall. Because the fore bearers of many of our landscape designs are also Old World European, most of our heritage is from the royal gardens and the great estates of Britain, France, and Italy. Much of this they learned from oriental gardens, however, there is a huge difference.
The elaborate European gardens are fundamentally formal in design and show a fascination, if not an obsession, with geometrical forms. They serve to demonstrate the Western belief that man is the master of nature (big example of wishful thinking). Even the less formal gardens of Britain are so vast as to overwhelm the viewer with their grandeur.
In the Orient, on the other hand, the designs are informal and asymmetrical, along with being related to the human being in their scale. Man is meant to be an accomplice in the scene, but he does not dominate it. These gardens, reverently created of plants, stone, earth, and water — invite the eyewitness to come in and then lead him subtly through a series of pleasant discoveries in form, texture, line, and even color. The plantings are never out of proportion to their direct environment, but are always related to a house or other man-made structure, without it being obvious.
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