Saturday, September 3, 2016

Design Ideas from the Asian Gardens at Discovery Park of America

When I think of Asian gardens, I typically think of a shady garden. However, Asian gardens can also be done quite well in a mostly sunny environment, as I learned this week when Jack, his mother, and I made a brief trip to the Discovery Park of America in Union City. 

Like most Asian gardens, water and stone are prominently featured. 

Consisting of two pieces of bamboo, an underground basin covered by some stones, and a small pump with tubing to recirculate the water, this little water feature could easily be replicated in a home garden. When we lived in Virginia, I constructed a similar water feature where the water seems to disappear into the ground, and if I can do it, anyone can! 

In this section of the garden, stones are used to convey the idea of a stream but without water. Notice the round gray stones curving around the large rock. Simple but effective.

The backdrop for the little dry stream shown above was a collection of large rocks (not so easy to replicate by a do-it-yourself gardener). The size and interesting forms of the rocks themselves provided most of the interest in this section.

While not in the typical pagoda shape, there was also a  structure with benches for seating, painted in the typical Japanese garden color: red.

In addition to this Asian garden area, the Discovery Park also has a European garden area, which contains many of the flowering plants and herbs that many of us have in our own gardens. I did not include pictures because (like our own gardens in late summer), most of the plants looked old and tired. This reminded me of an important consideration for garden design: how the landscape holds up in the heat and humidity of our southern summers.

There are many interesting things to see at the Discovery Park of America (most not related to horticulture), and the fact that they have beautiful landscaping and small gardens is just a plus. I'm thinking another trip in the spring might be in order.

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