A Zen garden devoid of plants is too minimalist to be considered Zen-liked. Although the sand and rock formation are the primary elements of a Zen garden, the addition of plants balances the neutral color of the sand and the rock. When Zen gardens do include plants, they’re low, spreading species, that’s why a ground cover plant has to be selected carefully to form the Zen garden of your dream.
Photo & article credit: Thompson & Morgan
Hakonechloa Japanese forest grass or Hakone grass, Hakonechloa macra, loves the shade and goes well as ground cover next to a tree, an incline rock or any tall artifice. It can be planted in swathes or as clumps to define a trail. The pointed grass rustles with the wind and a good focal point for meditation. Easy to maintain, it likes even moisture and average humidity, but can tolerate minor dry spells and arid climates (with irrigation) with minimal damage.
Photo & article credit: Gardeners World
Araiostegia parvipinnata The detail of this fern is intricate and pleasing to the eye. Also called an Asian hare’s foot ferns, it spreads and creeps making it a good cover for a moderate to large garden. It likes to thrive on moist, shady spot and well drained soil with humus.
Photo credit: Connon Nurseries
Black or Japanese pine, Pinus thunbergii, is known for being a horticultural tree not only because of it’s evergreen color but also as tree that can be “trained” in a pot or in an open garden. They are often ‘cloud pruned’ – a technique that involves shaping the crown into soft, cloud-like forms. According to Wikepedia, “In Japan it is widely used as a garden tree both trained as Niwaki and untrained growing as an overstory tree. The trunks and branches are trained from a young age to be elegant and interesting to view. It is one of the classic bonsai subjects, requiring great patience over many years to train properly.”
Last and certainly not to be remiss is the flowering azaleas and rhododendrons, especially during the Spring. It can be evergreen or deciduous and rather a contemporary take on a Japanese garden. If planted in an open area, they need neutral to acidic soil for healthy growth. Rhododendrons are noted for their fragrance and an impressive feature of a meditative garden.
Thank you for reading.
Please feel free to share a ground cover plant that you will add to your Zen Garden.
*This blog post is my personal opinion only and contains affiliate/referral links.