Lotus Temple

The oriental gardens are inspired by the millinery Asian tradition

Zen gardens

This particular garden has distant origins, it was born, in fact, with the advent of Zen Buddhism that dates back to the end of the sixth century, but is redefined and perfected in Zen monasteries and in the related temples, where it is used as a place of inspiration for meditation and prayer, but the true statement takes place in the sixteenth century, at the end of the Muromachi period.


In order to build a garden that reflects the true ideals of Zen culture, some basic rules must be kept in mind.

The natural elements (water, stones and plants) must be positioned in a perfect balance between full spaces and empty spaces.

The stones must be placed so as to form a path that must never return to itself and at the same time must never be closed, this to symbolize the journey of faith.

Some stones are placed scattered around the garden, to symbolize the islands, around which flows another fundamental element, water, which as mentioned is often depicted with sand in grains that must be strictly white and uniform to create the right atmosphere and light up the surrounding areas.

The grit of the sand must be moved with swaying patterns that evoke the movement of the waves of the sea, to obtain this result it is necessary to rake the sand continuously without ever lifting the rake and it must be borne in mind that the rake must always be pushed forward, never back.

Varying the orientation of the sand in the garden serves to reconcile the spirit and the mind, so it helps for meditation.

On the sand often small bridges are placed to symbolize the passage to reach a new point of view, a new mental state.

Sometimes in the gardens plants or saplings are inserted, preferably bonsai, but even in this case, nothing is left to chance, in fact, only some types of plants are taken into consideration such as moss, pine, maple, camellia and other oriental plants because they convey a strong sense of harmony and peace.

Overall, the Zen garden is green in all seasons with little touches of colour during the spring flowering period.

Other elements that are often placed inside the garden are the stone basins and lanterns (typical of Japan), there are two different types of tanks:

  • the Kazara: very scenic and placed at man height, usually surrounded by bamboo stumps;
  • the Tsukuba: less ornamental, it is placed on the ground and to use it you have to kneel.


The beauty of the garden depends on the disposition of the elements, it is necessary to create a natural and homogeneous effect, avoiding any excess that could disturb the visual and above all mental tranquillity.

To give a sense of perspective to the garden you need to use small precautions, for example, you have to place the smallest plants on the bottom while the larger ones are to be placed in the centre.

The stream must be placed so that it appears to extend into the distance, while the stones must form small ridges.

It should also be remembered that all the elements, the plants and the stones must be strictly in odd numbers so that the final composition appears to be in disorder, random.

Even the shapes must be irregular in order to recall the natural randomness, in practice fake chaos, but well calculated and premeditated while the lanterns must mark a resting place and never the entrance to the garden.


During the article some ornaments have been mentioned that can become part of your Zen garden, let’s see together the meaning to make it easier for you to choose:

  • The fountains: if positioned in the south-east or north corners they bring good fortune on an economic level;
  • the streams: if positioned in front of the house they must always be to the left of the front door, to favour the stability of the couple. Important not to overdo it with water, in abundance it symbolizes tears;
  • the driveway in front of the house must never be straight, but must form some curves to make a fortune;
  • behind the house you need to plant some saplings to enjoy the protection of the blue turtle;
  • the plants bring luck, if the trees are placed in the east, south and south-east they help growth and development, but they must be pruned with some regularity;
  • in the Zen garden do not ever place pointed plants or bushes and the dried plants or leaves must be eliminated peremptorily as they release negative energies.

That of the Zen garden is by now a widespread fashion all over the world and, in the last few decades, it has become increasingly popular also in Italy, it is enough to do a short search on the web to come across in-depth explanations, useful tips and even companies specialized in the construction of Zen gardens.

A recent trend, even, proposes small zen table gardens used both as furniture and as a small corner of meditation or reflection.

These little gardens called bonseki must be positioned on the west side of the room or in the centre and fully reflect the rules of the large gardens previously illustrated, they are supplied, on the other hand, with a small rake to be able to modify the waving of the sand in the moments of meditation.

Therefore, it remains only to choose the garden, the elements and ornaments that best suit your mental status and your beliefs and good meditation!

Stephanie Gutierres

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