I have a neighbor who loves pruning potted plants into historical-hunting bonsai designs. Realizing I examined back garden structure in Japan, he questioned for assist in making a comparable backyard to develop ambiance around his displays.
He did not talk to no matter whether or not I feel it’s suitable, what with “cultural appropriation” accusations traveling everywhere (I’m of two minds on this). So, I just gave him my record of frequently-grown vegetation native to Asia but which do quite effectively in Mississippi’s climate, and directed him to find design inspiration via traveling to the impeccable Japanese gardens in the Birmingham and Memphis Botanic Gardens.
The plant part is straightforward for the reason that, other than architecture and design, as significantly as plants go a walk about my possess neighborhood in Fondren could easily be a stroll around Kyoto. In spite of our indigenous plant enthusiasts’ hand wringing, one thing like eighty p.c of our landscape crops are from Japan or China.
Oh, we enjoy our indigenous yaupon hollies, southern magnolia, dogwood, redbud, bald cypress, oakleaf hydrangea, palmetto, prickly pear cactus, and summer months phlox, Louisiana iris goldenrod, and purple coneflower. All of which, by the way, are now typically developed all in excess of Japan.
But let’s face it, when somebody thinks of a basic Southern landscape, after swooning around our outstanding magnolia the to start with vegetation they typically gush around are not Southeastern natives. We can almost certainly no for a longer time yard without the need of azaleas, camellias, crape myrtles, hydrangeas, and pink Japanese magnolias, all of which are from Asia, along with wisteria, Japanese maples, nandinas, ginkgo, flowering quince, kerria, spirea, pears, bamboos (several), Japanese persimmon, aucuba, flowering apricot… I can go on and on, but you get it.
And who amongst us does not have all-to-wall St. Augustine or bermudagrass, groundcovers like Lirope and mondo grass, Asiatic jasmine, and perennially beloved bouquets from daffodils and daylilies to hosta, iris, and chrysanthemums (Japan’s national flower)? All from Asia.
And we adore them. In addition to, it isn’t the crops that make a backyard Mississippi, Japanese, or English! It is the style. The structure, the products, the really hard characteristics. Gates, walls, walks, arbors, seating, and ornamentation are what conjure a cultural outcome.
A typical Japanese back garden will have vegetation organized together meandering paths, a modest pond or lake with a fanciful or zig-zag bridge, an expanse of cautiously raked gravel, some standing stones to signify mountains, moreover a couple of really stylized “hard” options these as a stone pagoda lantern, pair of legendary “temple dog” statues… these are all seriously utilized in even the smallest gardens I have frequented in Japan.
Oh, and there will usually be very carefully-formed bonsai plants shown on pedestals, with the highest honors (koten engei) provided to the most weird specimen poodle-minimize “floating cloud” junipers and pollarded trees. The latter is termed kobushishitate or “fist pruning” in Japanese it is an ancient design that only Southern Residing and Master Gardeners, in a culturally- misinformed match of stylistic conceitedness, dare get in touch with “crape murder.”
I’m beginning to truly feel like I’m overdoing it right here, turning historical, remarkably symbolic, meticulously cultivated icons into cliches, which is certainly not my intention. But isn’t that what we do, when we duplicate from other cultures?
Acquiring lived and gardened for many several years now in England, and getting visited many fairytale landscapes, non-public and botanic gardens, and flower reveals, it would appear like I could pull off an English fashion cottage backyard in Jackson. But I really do not even check out, rather just hoping to tend what I like in ways that go well with me, with home still left for me to wander all over.
It’s my Mississippi backyard, employing vegetation from all over, with a just nod to other cultures.
Felder Hurrying is a Mississippi writer, columnist, and host of the “Gestalt Gardener” on MPB Believe Radio. E mail gardening questions to [email protected].