Zen Gardens: Simplicity within complexity / by Glenn Dixon


A Zen garden is meticulously maintained. Every day contaminants are plucked from the surface, the garden is watered and the rocks are raked. This perpetual aspiration for cleanliness contributes to a gardens profound and unique beauty. The impossible whiteness of the stones imparts to us a quiet and respectful awe. The rocks represent the flow of water and sea, the sea becomes an empty vessel for us to store our own meaning within.

"[Zen temples] embody the commitment that is needed to preserve beauty through daily effort. Their pebbled white gardens can be taken as a symbol of this principle of preservation.”

- Kenya Hara. White (Lars Müller Publication)

The careful placement of rock and plant elements within a Zen garden create a dynamic sense of scale. When you pause to consider a particular niche within a garden, you receive an impression of vast natural vistas viewed from a considerable distance. With a small step to the left or right, you are reminded of the true scale. The garden seems to be an infinite regress of landscapes.

It is difficult to capture or represent this beauty in a photograph. A photograph is perfectly suited to preserving a moment visually within a rectangular composition. The beauty of a Zen garden is not found solely within the present moment but in its previous iterations and configurations.