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Japanese style gardens are incredibly popular. They have a serene and soothing impact and can easily be created in any sized garden by choosing the right selection of plants and opting for décor and embellishments to suit the style. For example, opt for natural materials like stone and wood.

Create a purposeful and pretty space by thinking about pathways that not only get you from A to B, but also enhance the enchanting feeling of the garden.

In Japanese gardens, the colouring of plants tends to have soft neutrals from blossoms, contrasted with reds, oranges, and yellows.

1. Acer palmatum (Japanese maple)

A Japanese garden wouldn’t be complete without a Japanese maple. These small trees are perfect for even the smallest garden and will happily grow in containers. The 5 to 7 lobed leaves put on a spectacular show through the year with green leaves in spring and summer that turn fiery shades of red and orange.

  • Interesting foliage through the year
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 8m tall
  • Moist but well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Sheltered
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2. Imperata cylindrica (Japanese blood grass) ‘Rubra’

Bring texture to your Japanese style garden with an ornamental grass that will also add to the soundtrack of your garden as it rustles in the breeze. The linear leaves are green fused with dark red for a dramatic impact in your borders.

  • Interesting foliage through the year
  • Hardy through most of the UK
  • Grows up to 50cm tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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3. Azalea japonica ‘Diamond White’

This evergreen azalea has dense, bushy foliage that is joined by beautiful delicate looking flowers in spring. The pure white bloom contrast wonderfully with the foliage. Before planting, ensure the soil conditions are right because these plants need acidic soil, so use plenty of ericaceous compost.

  • Evergreen foliage and flowers in spring
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 1m tall
  • Moist but well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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4. Hakonechloa macra (Japanese forest grass)

Another grass to plant among your blooms, is Japanese forest grass that produces mounds of bright green leaves. Through autumn and winter, the leaves are tinted with reddish-brown tints for an extra bit of colour. Easy to grow and tolerant of many soils and positions, there’s sure to be a space for this perennial grass.

  • Interesting foliage through the year
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 50cm tall
  • Moist but well-drained soil
  • Full shade, full sun, or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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5. Chaenomeles speciosa (Japanese quince)

Next is a versatile shrub that has a lot to offer. The glossy green leaves are joined by clusters of red flowers that are bowl-shaped and add a burst of colour to complement the other dramatic colours in the garden. The blooms are followed by fruits that smell sweet and can be used to make tasty jams.

  • Flowers in spring and fruit in autumn
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 2.5m tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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6. Prunus x yedoensis (Yoshino cherry) ‘Somei-yoshino’

This Japanese flowering cherry has delightful white blossoms in spring that have a pink tinge to them. Not only can you enjoy them, but pollinators will be sure to pay them a visit too as a source of food early in the year.

  • Flowers in spring
  • Fully hardy
  • Can grow higher than 12 metres
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Exposed or sheltered
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7. Sambucus nigra (black elder) ‘Black Lace’

The dark foliage of Sambucus nigra has a dissected appearance, having a similar effect as Japanese maples. The almost black foliage is the perfect backdrop for the clusters of pink blooms that appear in spring. It’s also a great addition to a wildlife garden as it has nectar/pollen rich flowers for bees and also provides shelter and seeds for birds.

  • Interesting foliage through the year and flowers in spring
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 4m tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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8. Hosta kikutii (Japanese rock hosta)

With leaves that grow to 20cm long, the clumps of foliage have a dense appearance in your planting scheme. The leaves are slightly rippled, adding texture to the space too. In a sheltered spot, these plants can be used as underplanting and ground cover as well.

  • Deciduous foliage and flowers in summer
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 1m tall
  • Moist but well-drained soil
  • Partial shade
  • Sheltered
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9. Styrax japonicus (Japanese snowbell)

With white drooping bell-shaped flowers from June to August, this tree is a perfect pick for a small Japanese style garden. It’s not just the flowers that put on a show because the foliage turns from green to vibrant yellow in autumn before they fall. The hanging branches make it a lovely addition to the side of a pathway or a hidden nook for relaxing.

  • Interesting foliage through the year
  • Hardy
  • Grows up to 12m tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Sheltered
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10. Wisteria floribunda (Japanese wisteria)

This vigorous climber is a classic addition to a Japanese style garden where it can climb up walls or fences or over structures like pergolas. The purple-white flowers bloom in summer with a lovely fragrance for you to enjoy whenever you pass by.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 8m tall
  • Moist but well-drained
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Sheltered
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With these tips you can have an enchanting Japanese style garden that is full of foliage and flowers. Consider hidden nooks and meandering pathways to enhance your garden for a relaxing and tranquil space.

Spring is here, see my post on spring pollinators:

Or check out my Pinterest board for more ideas:

spring pollinators
Spring pollinators
Pinterest
Pinterest Board

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