The Garden Guide

Book: Landscape Gardening in Japan, 1912
Chapter: Chapter 11. Garden Vegetation

Sen no Rikyu Furuta Oribe planting design

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The noted landscape gardener Sen-no-Rikiu was accustomed to employ higher trees in the foreground than in the background of his compositions, but his successor, Furuta Oribe, followed an exactly contrary method. It is constantly laid down as a most important axiom, that trees and plants, however desirable as ornaments, must not be used in positions at variance with their natural habits of growth; a plant which, when undomesticated, grows upon the hill or mountain side, must not be placed in a garden plain or valley, nor should vegetation produced in low damp situations be transferred to elevated spots. Not only is the violation of this rule detrimental to the freshness and vitality of growths, but it is condemned as leading to incongruity and falseness in design. Deciduous trees are not much favoured for the foreground of a garden, because of their bare and cheerless aspect in the winter-time. An exception is, however, made with plum and cherry trees, which, on account of their early blossoming, as well as the high rank they hold in public estimation, are often planted in the foreground, close to the chambers of the dwelling.