Garden Photo of the Day

Bob’s Japanese-Style Garden

A meditative garden space

entire view of garden with large stone border

We recently visited Bob and Linda Vivian’s beautiful Pennsylvania garden (Gardening in Pennsylvania), and today Bob is welcoming us back to take a tour of their Japanese-style garden.

view of gravel garden through small treeThis view looks through a tangle of the trunk of the fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus, Zones 3–9). It’s not a Japanese maple (Acer palmatum, Zones 5–9), which would be more traditional in a Japanese garden, but it has character and age.

garden path made of large stones leading to pot water fountainI look at some of the stones in this picture and remember when Linda and I rolled them around like giant marbles. Ever try to get a 250 lb. rock to sit perfectly on the first try?

garden with curly hostas in the foregroundAt the forefront is Hosta ‘Praying Hands’ (Zones 3–9)—so unique, so architectural. I love ’em. I had never seen them before, nor have I seen them since. In the background at top right is the stone bench that I meditate from. Because it’s stone, you can’t meditate long in the cold weather.

large rusty kettle is a garden full of greeneryI found this small iron kettle half buried at a job site many years ago. I like it in this spot. Beyond, in the upper left, is the perennial garden filled with color and pollinators. It’s a wonderful contrast.

entire view of garden with large stone borderThis is the full view of the entire garden. You can see that the Japanese-style garden is not very big. It does, however, have everything as I intended. It’s been my dream for a long time. I’m satisfied.


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View Comments


  1. Maggieat11 04/18/2022

    Your garden is lovely! Thank you for sharing 🌱. I'd love to see it in person.

  2. User avater
    user-7007816 04/18/2022

    Very different from traditional Japanese gardens, but it does create the same feeling. Great job.

  3. PattyLouise 04/18/2022

    Lovely & very relaxing garden. Enjoy & thanks for sharing!

  4. User avater
    treasuresmom 04/18/2022

    My, my, how very lovely!

  5. User avater
    simplesue 04/18/2022

    I really enjoyed this look at your Japanese style garden area.
    Loved reading about you remembering the placing & rolling of heavy stones (moving stones is very memorable for me also, I totally get it!)
    Very creative to use to "found pot" in the garden, and good placement.
    This little spot in your garden has everything- water, stones, great plants...just gorgeous what you two have created here.

    1. User avater
      simplesue 04/18/2022

      PS...the ornamental column is really nice in your garden...I was wondering if there was an interesting story on that garden ornament?

      1. GrammyGranddad 04/18/2022

        Thank you, SimpleSue, for your inquiry and to everyone for your kind comments. I think that column is either part of an asian fence rail or a hitching post. The antique store I bought it from could offer no history. You bring up a good point. I should be more curious about it and the lg iron kettle in the water feature. I will research their history. Can anyone provide a clue?

  6. cheryl_c 04/18/2022

    I love your use of the fringe tree instead of a Japanese maple. And you have achieved the serenity, balance, and sense of movement that I associate with Japanese style gardening. Hope you are able to discover more about your column and kettle. Thanks for sharing.

  7. User avater
    cynthia2020 04/18/2022

    Linda & Bob - I adore your Japanese style garden.

  8. bunny2luv 04/18/2022

    Beautiful garden! I especially love the use of the native fringe tree. I am trying to add more natives to my central MA garden. Thank you for sharing!

  9. btucker9675 04/18/2022

    This little part of your garden is just lovely. So serene and thoughtful. Having rolled around many very large rocks in my day, I can totally relate to your story! Had one standing just perfectly once, was packing soil and gravel around the base to stabilize it, stepped back to admire my creativity, then.... plop!! Finally did get it to stay the way I wanted.

    1. GrammyGranddad 04/18/2022

      I had to chuckle at your travails in your tale of stone placement. It seems that all ( and I do mean all) of the forces of nature, including gravity, are working against the gardener. We do, however, prevail somehow. Bravo!

  10. user-7020748 04/18/2022

    Lovely example of a Japanese style garden. I loved your comment, "I'm satisfied". That's the feeling I get in Japanese gardens, a sense of calm and contentment. Well done.

  11. giardiniera 04/18/2022

    Thank you for sharing your garden. It's lovely and perfectly maintained adding to its sense of order and peacefulness. Congrats!

  12. Pollen 04/18/2022

    Your 'found' pot could serve as a replica or antique "Singing Bowl" which are used in meditation. Here in NC I am not far from Juniper Level Botanic Garden. They sell and Tony Advent, plant Hunter, hybridizer, is a place for unique plants in all families. Your praying hands hosta is a popular item here abouts! Delightful and Inspiring achievement you made. I hope to add a meditative space sometime this season as well. Thank you for sharing!

  13. nicki_s 04/18/2022

    Ooh, you've inspired me! I have the perfect spot for a garden like this. Mine is shadier, though, as there's a large horse chestnut growing there - but I should be able to use shade-tolerant plants. I can hardly wait to tell my husband he's going to help me purchase and move a bunch of large rocks! ;-)

    1. GrammyGranddad 04/18/2022

      You go nicki-s. It's truelly gratifying to know that my little piece of heaven is a source of inspiration to others. Trust me, when it's all said and done, you and your husband will love it.

  14. jos29803 04/18/2022

    Absolutely stunning!!! I love Japanese Gardens. The peace, serenity and beauty are soothing to the soul.

    1. GrammyGranddad 04/18/2022

      JoS29803, I totally agree. I've been a student of and an admirer of Japanese gardens for many years. I'm aware that small gardens, in limited space, are very different from the expansive Zen gardens we all know.
      Even with my American eye, I've tried to be true to the elements in those gardens, controlled but natural, agedness, open, empty space, the water feature, predominant green plantings, etc. I don't pretend to fully understand the nuances and symbolism of the Japanese garden. That's why I purposely call my garden Japanese "styled".

  15. lopezmason 04/19/2022

    The trees are very beautiful. This place looks great. The small streets with small pebbles show the Japanese style, you can immediately recognize it just by looking at it we become what we behold

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