Autumn leaves in Japanese gardens

Autumn is here, and it is getting cold. We are definitely heading for another winter here in London. Luckily I can still see a few flowers around, but it is nearly the end of the season for flowers in gardens and window boxes on the streets round here. That doesn’t mean the end of colour, however, as it is now these best time to see beautiful autumn leaves – especially in Japanese gardens!

As you can see from the following images, it is not just the leaves on the trees, but fallen leaves on the ground that also provide important elements in the creation of Japanese gardens.

Another famous ingredient fundamental to Japanese gardens is moss. There is a well-known temple in Kyoto called ‘Koke-dera’, which means ‘Moss Temple’, which attracts huge numbers of visitors, and is actually listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It seems unusual that moss could be a main performer of the garden, but it creates a beautiful flavour and texture, as well as its amazing deep green colour, which reminds me of match green tea.

If you are interested in knowing more about Japanese gardens or planning to visit one, the following website is very useful.

There is another website that shows local recommendations of places to go to see yellow and red leaves in Kyoto. It is sadly only in Japanese, but you can see the names of temples and get a taste of the gardens from the pictures – and maybe to make a plan for a trip to Japan!

I also like following photograph. Thatched roofs are not that rare in the countryside in Japan and the UK, but tastes are so different between the two countries, when you compare the Japanese house with its maple and English cottage with its clematis. Tastes in plants and gardening are so influential in creating landscapes around the world. I really welcome the idea of seeing an English garden in Japan or a Japanese garden in the England – when that happens it can be amazingly beautiful and graceful. But best of all I like to see a Japanese garden in Japan, surrounded by Japanese architecture, culture and life-style (and vice versa for an English garden), and I assume that plants are most comfortable their native place, where they have the appropriate weather and the conditions they were created and naturally evolved for.

Perhaps, in that sense, the recent global warming that our planet is now suffering from, is confusing many of our plants, so that – when seasons now arrive in an unseasonable way – they might actually wish to move like migratory birds! Now there is less shade there was in summer, more wet in winter, more anxiety in the air.

I also love eclectic styles, using interesting exotic plants, creating new aesthetics, though not loosing the identity of an essential English garden or Japanese garden. I believe the key to the success of any eclectic style is in the understanding first of all of a particular identity or culture, and then placing the exotic flavor on top, as decoration, in a thin loose way (like icing on a cake), so that the identity of the garden remains solid, but the eclecticism of the style – some of its vocabulary if you like – is sprinkled on top.

Yes, it is autumn, and winter is coming, and now that I’ve been living as a Japanese person in London for 15 years, I am just about learning to adjust my body to the cold English weather. I now know how to survive in the cold climate!

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