Today we are mixing things up a little bit as we are not just looking at one country, but three! We are looking at gardens from China, Thailand, and Korea and we are looking at some of the common themes that make each of them unique and some of the things that make them very similar to each other as well.
When you first think about a Chinese garden the first thing that will come into your mind most likely is some kind of Chinese looking building. The reason for this is that the majority of pictures you see of Chinese gardens will have some kind of architectural feature. Much of the time it is some kind of building or a pavilion where the roof is a major feature as it can be seen from all over the garden.
But as well as “building” and other places you can relax. Chinese gardens will make a lot of use of other structures like statues, huge stone features and so on. Chinese gardens are all about the spectacle and for over 3000 years now they have been wowing people from all over the world. Even something like a bridge will have some kind of fancy railing or a roof over it that gives it more style.
Water Is Life
Water has a very deep meaning in Chinese culture and any showcase garden is going to have a larger pond, sometimes with fish and sometimes with some decorative plant life or even just empty. But water is a huge feature of many Chinese gardens. Even in a smaller, personal Chinese garden, it is common to see some kind of smaller water feature like a little sculpture or water feature. It can be incorporated in many ways, but no matter how they do it, water is a very common and main theme of Chinese gardens. You cannot beat a cool looking Chinese bridge over a still pond
Rock(s) You Like A Hurricane
Ok so maybe the use of rocks in a Chinese garden is not to represent monster rock hits from the 80’s. But stones are very important as for some people stones are the skeleton of the earth and they are treated with great respect and stone gardens are a common thing that you will see in China. Stones can be used all on their own or as a way to help a flower bed or a pond stand out a little bit more.
Classic Gardens Use A White Wall
Some of the older and more touristy Chinese gardens will be walled in away from the outside world and the wall 99/100 will be plain white. This is by design as it is used as a backdrop to the garden and so that your eyes are not distracted by the garden walls. It is a very interesting way to wall in a garden and make sure your attention is all focussed on the garden.
Clever Use Of Plant Life
One of the things that you will notice when you look at pictures of Chinese gardens is the way that they really use a lot of green. They do use a smattering of colour here and there, but for the most part, the colour in a Chinese garden is all on the architecture and the plant life is green which represents life. A Chinese bamboo garden is another thing that you can expect to see and these have a rather minimalistic kind of look, but they look amazing at the same time, it is very interesting to see.
Simple And Elegant
When you read an article about the Korean style of garden, most of the time one of the terms that you are going to hear is simple and minimalist. These really are the best words to describe the Korean style of garden. They are done in a style that at first glance, many people will confuse a Korean garden for a Chinese or even a Japanese garden as they do use some of the core features, but in a more simple way.
Blend With The Scenery
The reason for this rather simple (although calling some of these gardens simple is doing them a huge disservice) approach is that in Korea they feel that a garden should naturally blend into nature and not take over it too much. You should be able to go from nature to the garden and not have a jarring difference. Of course in the modern world, this is a lot harder for garden architects to do, but some of the older gardens that are in Korea do this incredibly well, almost to the point where you struggle to know where the actual garden begins and ends!
In Korea, they will have an architecture that is very similar to what you will see in other far east gardens like China. They use very attractive looking roofs and have the sliding doors or a wide open plan so that they really capture your eye. If anything in a Korean garden is going to stand out and capture your attention it is going to be the building that they use or even the bridge.
Grass And Stone
The use of grass and stone is very clever in a Korean garden with many making use of a basic stone walkway and then surrounded by grass. There is usually some kind of plant life, but it is never over the top and distracting, it is the kind of thing that at first you really do not notice. The pathways that they use will always be done in a way that allows the person walking on them to have a real good look at the garden so they can take it in and of course the surroundings of where the garden is set.
Lots Of Water
Many of the showcase Korean gardens you will see have larger ponds in them. One of the things that catches your eye about this though is the really natural look of them. By this we mean they use stones and aquatic plant life that looks like it is there naturally and not part of the garden. It falls into the whole, trying to make the garden look as natural as possible thing that we talked about earlier. The use of water in a Korean garden is really cool and the natural look does give a Koran garden a much more natural feel.
Amazing Buddhist Temple Gardens
Buddhist Temple Gardens are what most people will think of when you imagine the gardens of Thailand. The breathtaking temples will often be raised up and the garden will then surround them. The real focus is on the temple, but thanks to the hot Thailand climate, they are able to use some very exotic and colourful plant life to really help showcase the temple and let people understand just how important the temple must be. Many of these now are huge tourist attractions in Thailand and will ensure that the garden is well kept and helps show off the temple.
Royal Palace Gardens
More extravagance can be seen in some of the royal palace gardens. If you take the Grand Palace In Bangkok, for example, you can once again see how in Thailand they really want the architecture to be the main focus. The Royal Palace for example actually has some very nice gardens and large exotic trees. But they are never over the top to the point where your focus is taken away from the palace. More often than not they will be very short grass with the occasional plant strategically placed around. At first glance, it looks rather basic, but when you look closer you realise the green areas and the pathways are all designed so that your attention is always on the palace.
Fancy Tourist Gardens
Of course, places like temples and palaces are why so many people come to Thailand each year. But interestingly some of the more extravagant and showcase gardens that you will find in Thailand are actually located in the hotels and resorts. They really go above and beyond to make their resorts stand out and with a large showcase garden that has ponds, places to sit and eat is one of the ways that they do this. Even some of the spas that you will find in these hotels have a paradise garden feel to them.
Interesting Personal Style
One of the most interesting things about the garden of an average joe in Thailand is that it was not really until the 1990’s that gardening for fun and style became a “thing” in Thailand. This is because many people would use their gardens for more practical reasons like growing vegetables and fruit trees. Now though, many people are starting to get a bit more artistic and the amateur gardener in Thailand now is really starting to come up with some interesting garden designs. With more people from Thailand traveling now and lots of tourists coming. The Thailand gardener has started to mix all kinds of style and this means that very few Thai gardens will look the same. While we all focus on the palaces, temples, and resorts. There is a very interesting world of gardening going on in Thailand and it is happening in people’s backyards!