The Bottom Line
- Photos of spectacular Japanese gardens will inspire you.
- Organized so as to offer a handy reference for designing Japanese gardens.
- Not useful for identifying the plants you may wish to use, if you're a novice.
- Language not as clear in places as it could be.
- Discover traditional patterns used for laying out stepping stones in Japanese gardens.
- Learn about pergola design for Japanese gardens.
- Fence design in Japanese gardens often means working with bamboo; photos provide examples.
Guide Review - Japanese Gardens Book
Serene Gardens by Yoko Kawaguchi is a useful book for the gardener already somewhat familiar with the plants used in Japanese gardens. But I would not recommend the book for those brand new to such plants, who would need help with identifying the specific specimens discussed. Although this book on Japanese gardens contains a plant appendix, photos don't accompany many of the plant descriptions in the appendix. And while beautiful photos of Japanese gardens can be found throughout the book, again, no consistent effort is made to identify the plants in these photos in any thorough manner.
Another criticism I have of this book on Japanese gardens is that the wording is not as clear in places as it could be. But if you can overlook this flaw and you already have a good grasp of the plant material you would use in a Japanese garden, Kawaguchi's book may be the catalyst to get you designing a Japanese garden of your own.
The book is organized into 3 chapters:
- Ch. 1 delivers some history on designing Japanese gardens.
- Ch. 2 discusses the elements used in designing Japanese gardens.
- Ch. 3, "Plant Directory," is what I have referred to above as an "appendix."
Chapter 2 gets into the meat and potatoes of designing Japanese gardens. Here you'll learn about such subjects as pruning topiary, arranging plants and rocks, and creating water features such as waterfalls -- in a style suited to Japanese gardens. Want to learn how to rake sand in a Zen pattern? You'll find that information in this chapter.