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Japanese Flower Garden

Japanese flower gardens are integrated into the traditional Japanese garden. The flowers fit into the design seamlessly, making the Japanese flower garden a part of the whole.

Unlike English gardens which are a profusion of color, Japanese flowers are limited in the traditional garden so each can be fully enjoyed for its own color and design.

Some of the traditional flowers you may find in a Japanese garden are familiar to those of us in the West, and some are less familiar. Here is a description of some you may commonly find in a Japanese garden.

Flowers for the Japanese Garden

The azalea (Tsutsuji) comes in a variety of colors ranging from white to yellow to pink to orange to red. They are deciduous shrubs that flower for only a few weeks in the spring. When in flower, the shrub is eye-catching with its profusion of flowers. Azaleas are easily found in the West, and prefer an acidic soil.

Hydrangeas (Ajisai) are also a familiar flower in the West. Depending on the soil acidity/alkalinity, the flowers will appear either pink or blue. You can also sometimes find them in white. There are three types of hydrangeasÂ… the most common has a ball-like flower cluster.

Another type is the lace cap, where only a few blossoms open at a time, and the final variety is a climbing hydrangea. All are beautiful shrubs. The flowers can be dried for use in arrangements.

Another popular plant in the Japanese flower garden is the magnolia (Mokuren). There are several varieties of magnolia to choose from. Two of the most popular are the tulip magnolia, which features large tulip-shaped pink/lavender flowers that bloom before the tree leafs out, and the other is the white star magnolia. The bright white blossoms really look like stars as they open in the early spring.

Japanese quince (Boke) is another spring blossoming shrub. The branches are covered with rosy-salmon colored flowers that can be forced indoors. This plant is very hardy, and the largest problem may be keeping it contained over the years in your garden.

Many yellow shrubs are found in Japanese flower gardens that we are not so familiar with, like the Kingyo bush, which sports simple creamy yellow blossoms on bare branches, the Rengyo bush, known as the forsythia here in the west with its simple bright yellow flowers often being the first sign of spring and the mimosa tree, which sports fluffy yellow flower puffs among its fine leaf clusters. This is a tall tree that can be a focal point in the garden.

Smaller yellowish flowers include the Japanese kerria, with its textured leaves and fluffy blooms and the Nanohana, a plant that grows about a foot high. It looks rather like a wildflower.

Another Japanese flower garden shrub we are not so familiar with is the Snow Willow (Yuki Yanagi) with its pristine white blossoms covering the wandering branches. It is truly a sight to behold in the garden. Here in the west you may want to replace this with a star magnolia or other white blossomed beauty like an evergreen clematis.

The bushy daphne plant is a pink spring favorite with its clusters of tiny star-shaped flowers and its amazing sweet scent. This plant can easily be found in the West, and you can keep it trimmed to fit in the area you plant it in. It blooms for a few months at a time and will perfume your entire garden.

Another beautiful pink addition to your Japanese garden that is easily found is pieris. The flowers grow on drooping stems, creating cascades of beautiful bell-shaped blossoms.

If you like flowering trees, don't forget to put in one of the flowering cherry trees. Not only are cherry blossoms a traditional flower in Japan, they are absolutely stunning in the spring.

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