The Buddhist philosophy of Wabi-sabi has a broad definition – ‘Wabi’ can be defined as ‘rustic simplicity’ or ‘understated elegance’ with a focus on less-is-more, and ‘Sabi’ translates to ‘taking pleasure in the imperfect’. When put together, ‘wabi-sabi’ is the art of finding ‘beauty in imperfection’.
Incorporating the wabi-sabi style into your garden can create the opportunity to embrace a whole new garden aesthetic – and sway away from the usual standard of pristine backyard design. Whilst wabi-sabi philosophy isn’t exclusive to gardening, and can be implemented throughout the home and in other areas of life, it is quickly becoming one of the latest gardening trends.
Use natural plants
The first step to incorporating wabi-sabi in your garden is choosing plants that change in appearance throughout the season such as peeling bark. Self-changing plants also come under this category, and fit in with the wabi-sabi approach. Instead of choosing annual plants for your garden, which get replanted each season, plant perennials and self-seeding plants will do the trick.
Much of the philosophy surrounding wabi-sabi emcompasses the idea of leaving nature as it is. For the gardener, this can involve a change of mindset; learning to welcome those tiny imperfections which are so often the reality of growing plants. Things that seem quite alien to most gardeners, such as letting weeds flourish, watching plants go to seed and allowing dry leaves to collect on the ground, become the norm. Switching your view, so the death of a favourite plant is no longer a ‘gardening failure’ but actually part of nature’s life cycle, is key to wabi-sabi.
Wabi-sabi also involves a different approach to perfectly planted plants, and border planting. Rather than placing the plants in a certain way so they grow equally, wabi-sabi embraces the idea of allowing the plants to grow how they please, in an imperfect fashion.
Integrate natural elements
Plants aren’t the only natural elements to make up a garden, when you consider stones, wildlife and ponds. Rather than only choosing flower beds, consider using stones and placing them randomly around the garden, allowing the moss, and lichens to grow over them. Wabi-sabi also embraces the beauty of aging over time and this is where natural objects such as wood and iron come in. Whether it’s an old gate, iron gardening tools or a watering can, weathered wood and rusted iron is celebrated in the eyes of ‘wabi-sabi’ philosophy…