Borrowing the Malvern Hills

Moon Gate in a show garden at the 2017 RHS Malvern Spring Flower Festival

Looking through the moon gate of this garden within a garden your eye is held by the stone sculpture sitting on the edge of the tranquil, reflective water.  You can rest in this special calm space in the middle of the countryside.  The garden seems to reach out right into the Malvern Hills in the background.

You might be surprised to discover that this is a show garden at the 2017 RHS Malvern Spring Flower Festival and right behind the trees and shrubs in the foreground is the very busy and not at all tranquil showground!  Peter Dowle the designer has very cleverly used the ancient Japanese art of Shakkei or Borrowed Landscape.  At One With..... is the name of this exquisite garden for meditation.

Here below are a couple of examples of Shakkei in Japan.

Shakkei at Shunko-in Myoshin-ji Kyoto
Shakkei at the moon garden, Jojuin, Kiyomizu-dera Kyoto

In the picture on the right you can just see a lantern in the woods on the hillside in the distance which is intended to indicate that this too is part of the garden.  The garden on the left includes the distant mountains just as the show garden includes the Malvern hills.

I wonder if Shakkei contributes to the contemplative experience of the garden by making us feel that we are at the heart of something much bigger than ourselves.  We and our little world are linked to a greater whole.


The picture  on the right shows how I used this principle in London where I was able to include the Common and a large willow tree in the client's small garden.  You can just see the Common through the branches of the tree and the garden feels very expansive.

You can see how it works in this picture. The end of the garden is about  150cm above a brook which flows along the boundary and we were able to have the fence at a lower level and therefore not visible from the house. 

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