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Evoking Natural PatternsEvoking Natural Patterns


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The Art at the Heart of Japanese Garden Design

Evoking the beauty of nature is at the heart of this art form I learned in Japan. The stately, one-sided form of this Virginia pine conveys its adaptation to a mountainside habitat, with prevailing winter winds from the northwest. Note that as a tree ages, its branches gradually lengthen and  succumb to the force of gravity, creating a conical shape. Shaded, weaker branches die, letting in more light and revealing the structural beauty of those branches that remain. In Japanese gardening, the beautiful character of each tree is revealed through selective pruning. Similar techniques keep the tree in proper scale to the scene being depicted.



Painting of Priest Myoe meditating in a Japanese red pine, Kozanji, Kyoto, Japan

If you see a resemblance between this pine and the following one in the Carleton garden, it's because Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) and Japanese red pine (Pinus densiflora) are close relatives, linked through an intermediate species, Pinus sylvestriformis, native to the Caucasus and China.

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Last modified: 03/03/13