Planning a Japanese tea garden?
Grasses are still extremely fashionable. Look out for the black grasses and Mondo and Blood grasses.
Many have beautiful, striped markings, which can look stunning if placed in the right setting. Also ask about bamboos, acers and mosses.
Most authentic tea gardens feature a moss lawn with stepping stones. If you are already having trouble with your lawn and its moss content this may be a handy alternative.
We recommend using grasses such as Festuca Glauca, Golden Toupee, which has golden, densely tufted foliage and grows to 12 inches.
Or try Holcus Mollis, which also grows to 30cm, and has white and pink variegated foliage.
Bamboos to try include: Pseudosasa Japonica, which has green foliage and grows to three to four metres or Arundinaria Fortunii Variegata, a dwarf bamboo with white variegation.
Acers or Japanese Maples to look out for are: Acer Palmatum Dissectium – feathery, deeply cut foliage, growing to four feet – and Shirasawanum Aureum, again which grows to four feet. This has golden, fan-shaped leaves.
Authentic tea gardens include bamboo screens, a rustic tea house, understated planting, carefully pruned and shaped to blend, a special garden gate entrance, that is often roofed, a water basin or Tsukubai near the entrance and a waiting bench.
Avoid camellias and azaleas, no matter how nice they look, and strictly no lacquered gazebos and bridges are allowed.
Choosing such a specialist theme can be costly and you may find you can only afford to buy a small selection of grasses, bamboos, acers and mosses for your garden.
However, this is acceptable as tea gardens are minimalist areas, which do not require dense planting schemes.