Plants for Japanese Gardens – a summer perspective!

Plants for Japanese Gardens – contrasting foliage
Plants for Japanese Gardens – contrasting foliage

In summer a Japanese garden is a haven of cool & calm, offering shade and dappled sunlight in a balanced and structured landscape. Add to this the soothing sound of running water (a typical feature in Japanese gardens), a splash of colour, some well-placed topiary and the effect is complete.  Many customers ask us about Plants for Japanese Gardens in the UK. Here are a few summer observations from a well-known Japanese garden in London’s Holland Park.

Many shades of green: This effect is beautifully illustrated as a tall cloud tree lingers elegantly among lower growing shrubs, its light green summer foliage delightfully offset against the grey stone and the water.

plants for Japanese gardens
Cloud Trees – planting for Japanese Gardens

Many layers of height: At the front, a cluster of formal buxus globes contrast wonderfully with the rugged stone. This is framed by the contrasting green foliage (both colour and texture) of the rhododendrons on the left and mahonia to the right, all under the backdrop of mature Acer trees (Japanese Maple).

Buxus globes, rhododendrons, mahonia & Acer trees
Buxus globes, rhododendrons, mahonia & Acer trees

A burst of colour: A regular feature of Japanese gardens, the hydrangea adds a burst of summer colour. Don’t forget to keep them very well watered while flowering!

Hydrangeas add vibrant summer colour
Hydrangeas add vibrant summer colour

Acers glorious acers: From the tall to the small, no Japanese garden is complete without Acers, which can add depth, structure and colour. Here a full grown mature Acer tree overlooks the impressive water feature…

mature Acer tree overlooks the waterfall
mature Acer tree overlooks the waterfall

..and a spreading Japanese Acer looking very pretty with its deep red foliage as it grows out of a bed of soft moss balls inset with stepping stones.

Acers  Japanese Maple
Acers Japanese Maple

More on Japanese Gardens? Read Designing a Japanese Garden and also Ramon’s story of  Creating a Japanese Garden.