KARESANSUI ~ Rocks Into Water

It is estimated that the typical suburban lawn consumes 10,000 gallons of water above and beyond rainwater each year.     ~U.S. Geological Survey

There are a variety of water-efficient gardening and landscape designs.  One of the oldest is the Japanese rock garden or dry landscape garden, often called a Zen garden, that dates back to the 11th century.  Karesansui suggests mountains and water using only stones, sand or gravel and, occasionally, plants. 

The name translates literally as dry mountain water. Influenced by Zen Buddhism, the term indicates a stone arrangement in a part of the garden without water. A karesansui garden is a living work of art in which the plants and trees are ever-changing with the seasons.

Unlike other traditional gardens, there is no water present in karesansui gardens. Using neither ponds nor streams, it makes symbolic representations of natural landscapes using stone arrangements, white sand, moss and pruned trees. There is gravel or sand, raked or not raked, that symbolizes sea, ocean, rivers or lakes. Water is symbolized both by the arrangements of rock forms to create a dry waterfall and by patterns raked into sand to create a dry stream. Though each garden is different in its composition, they mostly use rock groupings and shrubs to represent a classic scene of mountains, valleys and waterfalls inspired originally from Chinese, and later Japanese, landscape paintings.

These gardens require careful maintenance from those skilled in the art of training and pruning. Part of that art is to keep the garden almost still, like a painting…and like paintings, the gardens are meant to be viewed from a single, seated perspective.

In addition to water conservation in gardens and landscaped areas, karesansui adds artistic and spiritual elements that evoke nature, balance, peace, and serenity.

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