The Japanese and the British both share a deep-rooted appreciation of gardens, even though the chaotic tumble of blooms in an English country garden and the clipped order and raked gravel so characteristic of a Japanese garden couldn’t be more different.
Perhaps that’s why we are so fascinated; Japanese gardens have long been popular in the UK.
One of the first gardens in the UK was ‘almost certainly’ inspired by the 1910 Japan-British Exhibition at White City. Tatton Park in Cheshire has a Japanese garden in a ‘tea garden’ style. All things Japanese seemed fabulously exotic to the British public in the Victorian and Edwardian eras, and this Japanese garden with its Western aesthetic will have been the height of fashion.
Boasting a Shinto shrine and various authentic artefacts, it is reputed to be “finest example of a Japanese Garden in Europe.”
The garden can only be viewed from the perimeter except during tours, given on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 1.20pm and 2.20pm for a small fee in the high season. Visit the Tatton Park website for details.
Probably one of the most unusual Japanese gardens in the UK must be the ‘world’s first crystal garden’ in the Pure Land Japanese Garden in Nottinghamshire, which opened in May 2013. This stunning creation has thousands of crystals positioned to represent facets of nature, such as rivers and mountains.
The crystal garden is contained within their more traditional Japanese garden, which features ‘a traditional repertoire of garden elements such as water, carp, bridges, moss, bamboo, evergreens, maples, cherry, and stone lanterns’.
Open from March, the entrance fee is £7. In August, you can also experience a magical lantern-lit garden experience, evocative of a bygone age in Japan.
Can’t get enough of Japanese Gardens?
Japanese gardens are to be found all over the UK. Visit the handy website www.japan-interface.co.uk/gardens/ for a searchable guide of all the Japanese Gardens in the UK and Ireland (also, for a list of suggested books to create your own).
Founded in 1993, the Japanese Garden Society (JGS) brings together people interested in the gardens of Japan and Japanese gardens in the UK. Members enjoy garden visits, a journal, newsletter and workshops and talks.
The Japanese Garden Society’s publication ‘Visions of Paradise’ is based on the society’s exhibition ‘Visions of Paradise – the Japanese Garden in the UK’, with contents covering the style and design of gardens in Japan; the history and development of gardens in the UK; ‘Cultural Borrowing’; and a list of gardens open to the public in the UK.
An hounourable mention should be given to the website GreatBritishGardens.co.uk – which offers a good round up of their favourite 15 Japanese gardens in the UK.
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