‘suna’ and ‘jari’ – Sand and Gravel

Finally Tranquility. Discover the Japanese within yourself.


MMr. K. is a very busy man, and he tells us well in advance, that our time for a talk would be a bit limited, unfortunately. Nevertheless, our conversation is very friendly, also, we want to quickly reach a tangible result.

“Malheureusement, my daily life is determined by a sense of constant pressure, my life is made up of loads of decisions that I sometimes have to come up with within very short time frames, every day people come to me and I have to find solutions, mediate, develop strategies, analyze the past, plan for the future and have daily tasks under control, it’s just a buzz, it’s an incessant stream of events that never stops, and if you portray it in a picture, it’s like thousands of paper planes are constantly being fired at my head. I’m looking for a counterpoint to my everyday life!”, he explains. “I need a quiet zone that belongs to me alone, where not other people are constantly walking around.

Perfectly prepared, he hands us a plan of the property and asks us to design something really special.

“We’ll do what we can.”

We designed a Japanese garden for Mr. K. There are neither many colorful flowers nor a variety of different single plants, because this would only remind him of his everyday life with the many individual events. However, we have decided not to cling puristically to any of the different Japanese gardening styles, but to combine those elements from different eras and styles that could be particularly helpful for the garden’s effect and that our client might like.

Mr. K. has a large property. That’s why we do not have to limit ourselves very much. As a basic principle we start from the Japanese “strolling garden” (kaiyūshiki teien) (German: “Wandelgarten”). We consider the locations of the ponds, plan the size of the islets in the ponds and try to imagine the best places for small bridges to the islands.

We design generous waves and hills, shaped by curving, very light gravel paths. Since we do not want Mr. K.’s rest disturbed by annoying lawn mowers, we decide to plant “no mow grass,” in which case we resort to Zoysia tenuifolia, a slow-growing grass that – resting uncut – creates one gently flowing grassland. A recovery for the eyes and extremely easy to maintain.

We select a few, but very speaking plants, which are characterized by a distinctive growth pattern. We choose Pinus mugo (mountain pine) and Pinus pentaphylla (Japanese white pine), as well as the irregular pyramid-shaped Pinus densiflora ‘Oculus-draconis’, the Japanese dragon-eye pine.

We combine classical Japanese pines and plum trees as they symolize the moment and infinity, we seek the shadiest spots to let mosses grow around stones, define strictly limited areas for bamboo and deliberately place a few rhododendrons, all of the same deep pink.

We get a Japanese wooden rake to rake clear, sandy seas, a task that is not meant for us, but to serve the relaxation of the host. Stone lanterns round off the wonderfully calm picture.

There will be a hidden tea house in the garden. According to tradition, one can not just go in, but enters through a gate in order to leave one world behind and enter another one.

The most beautiful part, however, is the koi pond, on its banks a fan maple, which in autumn turns into red, before they fall off one by one, linger briefly on the surface of the lake before they pass away. You can not hold on to anything but consciously perceive the moment. A large natural landscape, but in the format of a garden. A place of deep and perfect peace.

We present our plans to our client. Mr. K. smiles at their sight. He likes everything very, very well. He will take more time for himself in the future. He will spend time in his own private landscape, that’s so much more than just a garden, and whose structure and tranquility are the counterbalance to his professional world. Finally, and now his smile becomes almost a bit prankful, he reveals thas he has already bought for himself a ‘yukata’.