Meditation is a wonderful way to shed the cares of the day and relax, and some modern gardeners have decided to create their own Zen garden. One of the beauties of this type of landscaping requires an artistic eye for the elements to work in harmony with each other, and contemplating the beauty of each piece is all part of what makes it work. For those who are interested in building their own retreat from scratch, it will take a bit of work to make sure all the necessary elements are in place.
The origin of the Zen garden is in Japan, so each component of the garden is meant to represent a part of the islands of this small but beautiful country. Some of them are vertical, and others play their role in a horizontal manner. Each one is meant to showcase a particular element of this amazing land, and their functions together are to help explore the world through a meditative state.
Japan is surrounded by vast ocean waters, but a Zen garden is often referred to as being dry. Rather than imposing on the ground, those who make these types of gardens have a different way to represent each element. Gravel is used to symbolize the water, and it is raked into waves with a steel rake that creates the ripples of the sea.
A mountainous country, the representation of the land is done by using tall rocks or boulders that are very narrow. These are the structures that work as symbols of the Japanese mountains where people have lived for centuries, and they are set within the gravel ocean. Rounded rocks that are flatter can also be used to represent the islands, but they are generally reserved for those who prefer a sea of sand instead of an ocean of gravel.
The rocks and ocean provide the basis of the world, but it also contains vegetation. Placing green plants that are short in the garden is representative of all the growing plants that sustain life on the islands. They can be green plants of almost any type, but they should be very simple in structure.
While there are plants around the islands within the sea, the garden can also be closed off from the noise of the world with shrubs or smaller trees. The idea here is to represent the land with greenery instead of rocks, but they can also form a hedge against the outside world for a peaceful experience. Often pruned and shaped in the manner of topiary, these plants should have the look of strength because they represent the rocky nature of the islands.
The concept behind creating a Zen garden tend to be stark because they are very abstract, and the full blossoms of a Western garden would be far too distracting for those interested in existing in a peaceful state of mind. Private meditation within the garden is the reason for creating it, so the elements should be present without being overwhelming.