Garden Photo of the Day

A Japanese-Style Garden in Ottawa

Creeping thyme and gravel make a peaceful space

Today we’re visiting with Bas Suharto.

I live in Ottawa, Canada, in Zone 5B. I have been gardening since 2007 when I was a student. Gardening in Ottawa is not easy, since the warm season lasts only two months. 

The photos are of my back garden. The idea is a dry lake, in a Japanese-garden style. I built the garden in 2007. The ground cover is Thymus serpyllum (creeping thyme, Zones 4–8).

garden path bordered by creeping thymeThe carpets of creeping thyme in beautiful spring bloom run around the river of gravel. Carefully pruned shrubs and art create the sense of a Japanese garden.

small garden sculpture next to shrubsEvery detail of this garden is perfect, with every shrub and piece of sculpture working together to create a harmonious whole.

Creeping thyme in bloomCreeping thyme makes a beautiful green carpet most of the year, and then in the spring it transforms into a sheet of purple blooms beloved by bees.

wide shot of garden with gravel pathsIn traditional Japanese style, there are islands set into the gravel and a spot for sitting and looking out on the garden and perhaps meditating on the beauty of the scene in front of you.

bearded irises with hostasThe garden isn’t all gravel and thyme. Here a row of hostas (Hosta hybrid, Zones 3–9) and bearded irises (Iris hybrid, Zones 3–9) show off behind a neatly trimmed hedge.


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View Comments


  1. sandyprowse 04/07/2021

    This was the most calming and stunningly beautiful garden I have experienced . Sheer joy. You have done a marvellous job and deserve to be congratulated. Very well done. Thank you for allowing us into your exquisite garden.

  2. User avater
    user-7007816 04/07/2021

    I also have a Japanese style garden in a more traditional style. I thoroughly enjoyed the lush plantings around the garden and on the islands. I'm sure I will be incorporating some of these ideas in my garden. Beautiful.

  3. User avater
    simplesue 04/07/2021

    So manicured and tidy!
    It's so pretty the way I can see in the close up photo how all the plants blend into each other just as it is written in the caption: "to create a harmonious whole".
    Well done!

  4. coastalgardener 04/07/2021

    Lovely and so serene. So glad you shared this beautiful garden.

  5. cynthia2020 04/07/2021

    Hi, Bas. What a beautiful well designed place to be! All the plants seem mature and full. Not a leaf out of place... Love the dry lake and the precise pruning.

  6. User avater
    treasuresmom 04/07/2021

    Oh, my, that creeping thyme is out of this world.

  7. alicefleurkens 04/07/2021

    One can almost smell the creeping thyme looking at that picture. It is wonderful, magical. Alice

  8. blondie3 04/07/2021

    WOW, well put together. Loved it, thanks for sharing!?

  9. btucker9675 04/07/2021

    Really beautiful - I can imagine how lovely that creeping thyme smells and can almost hear the droning of visiting bees! Thank you for sharing this wonderful space.

  10. user-5117752 04/08/2021

    Simply stunning!!! What an amazing, meditative garden you have created! I'd love to see a winter photo as well. Yes, as all have said, thank you for taking the time to share with us.

  11. bas_s 11/05/2021

    thanks everyone. The garden is always evolving/growing.
    In summer or autumn look different. I am also thinking to submit the photos of the garden from beginning to today, like my parterre (front yard).

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