• Anu van Warmelo

Scroll/Stroll Gardens


The picture shows a technique corresponding to what in traditional Japanese terms is called a 'scroll garden'. The principle is that you use a vantage point in order to design the garden as if it were a three-dimensional painting.

You should be able to see the whole of the garden from one point, and according to literature on the subject of fu sui (Japanese Feng Shui), be able to take in 'ten thousand trees in a single glance', which shows the scale landscape designers were often working on in the past! It is not necessary to be so grandiose for most of us, working on much humbler scales, to draw on this wisdom.

The principle remains the same: that you take into consideration what exactly is visible from the chosen location. That involves considerations too broad to summarise here (that is why people hire me, after all) but it includes examining the foreground, the mid-ground and the background, how they affect and balance each other; also, directions and the five elements. For instance, here, the vibrant red/purple tones complement the south direction, and the two chairs in the background emphasise relaxation and companionship.

When more ambitious, the enterprising gardener can consider the views from numerous points. Then one really is working within a three-dimensional painting. (Though I would add, seasonal change, growth and decay have to be taken into consideration, actually making it four-dimensional - a subject for another day.)

The other type of garden is known as a 'stroll garden'. This is a garden you can get lost in, and is usually much larger than the scroll. It is characterised by meandering paths and unexpected surprises around every corner. On a very basic level (much could be enhanced) the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall would be an example, even possibly Kew Gardens in London. Advanced gardening can exhibit a combination of the two techniques, where 'scrolls' are revealed from various places on the walk. The experience apparently - I have never come across this personally - can be much like entering a painting magically.

#fiveelements #garden #fusui