Our Japanese themed garden in West Cork
It gives a lovely theme for an Irish garden.As things happen I am a farmer, or I used to be when living in Africa. Large farms, wide open spaces and miles between you and the nearest neighbour and even further between the nearest town or village. Of course for some farmers, they happen to live close by a town or village, but that was never the case for me.
Consequently, one grew very fond of gardens. Whether this was due to the fact the farmers like to grow things or because your Mother always enjoyed pottering around in the garden, is open to question. When I was growing up the farm was very short of water and because of this we never really had a nice garden. My Mother tried so hard with this, but without a decent water supply, it’s near on impossible to have it nice, unless you so happen to have a nice good summer rainfall. For a short period of time then in summer, the garden looks OK but thereafter it swiftly changes.
I always hated this and made a pledge to myself that when grown up, I would never live on a farm that’s short of water. This was reinforced after I got a third level education in Agriculture and I stuck to this. The gardens my wife and I had when living in South Africa and our subsequent return to the expanded family farm in Zimbabwe, were the talk of the district. They didn’t grow themselves you know, it took imagination and a lot of work.
I now live in a country where there is no shortage of water but the seasons are so different, that you are back to square one. In other words it’s only nice for short periods of time. More importantly I’m a case of from riches to rags, be that as it may. From large wide open spaces to something so small which was just a patch of grass. We decided to have a Japanese theme garden. Here is our story of it.
Here is us starting on it.
On first moving into our new house it was just a concrete block with a square patch of grass in the back. In time we spruced it up, starting with painting the concrete walls which surround the back of the house and then doing up the garden. We did it by ourselves with no hiring of people or special equipment. By we I mean mainly the wife with occasional help from me and the children. After all I was working from sunrise to sunset with little or no time off. We spend many hours discussing it and some things I agreed with and some things I didn’t. Believe it or not I have some taste and an eye for this type of thing. My wife wanted to more or less board it up like they do on the television programmes. However I love lawn and always have. In the end we compromised.
Then of course herself wanted to put down bark to stop weed growth. I was appalled and said it was an absolute eyesore and didn’t work that well. It would be much better to put down some garden matting, which really does work. Then came the masterpiece ( from her ) and that was to cover all this with different coloured stones. It was much more expensive but it had a touch of class. Please tell us what you think.
The first hard part came in getting the lawn going as a sloppy job was done on it in the first place and it was very patchy with huge rocks, old concrete and other stuff just under the surface of a thin dressing of topsoil which the builder put down. It took some doing and was slow work but gradually took shape.
Meanwhile my wife was busy convincing me of doing a Japanese style theme garden and slowly reeled me in with her ideas. Eventually the idea was to have the lawn in a semi-circle configuration on the left and the right of the garden. On the left was going to be a tree and shrub section and on the right a conifer section, with an overall Japanese theme to it and of course a must have. A water feature.
The coloured stones and water feature
In our themed Japanese garden
So here I will give one a small idea of what I mean by coloured stones. That is our water feature and we chose the colour blue from reading some Japanese garden themes. When you look at the other images you will see a recurring blue theme. Surrounding this we have laid down some white stones and the rest is made up of goldish looking stones. It adds flavour to the setting but most importantly one gets little to no weeds at all. When they do it is a five minute job to remove them. The feature is flanked by some flax for colour in winter. We also bought some metal guinea fowl birds to place around the feature and when my son returned from his trip to the far East he brought us a little green Buddha which we have added to the scene.