Big on bamboo

Anna Pavord's guide to the best Japanese gardens
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The Independent Online
Japanese garden style could scarcely be more different from the English, but Japanese gardens have a long history in this country, some more successful than others. The ingredients - stone lantern, hump-backed bridge, expensively dwarfed maple - are easier to acquire than the recipe for putting them together. Think Zen.

Japanese gardens became particularly fashionable in this country when the Meiji restoration of the 1860s finally opened up the country to Western travellers and diplomats. Baron Redesdale, who served there in the embassy, created on his return a superb bamboo garden at Batsford Park in Gloucestershire and planted a wide range of exotic Japanese shrubs and trees. This arboretum, at Moreton-in-Marsh, is open daily until the middle of November (10am- 5pm). Admission pounds 2.

One of the most successful English Japanese gardens was made in 1910 by another diplomat, Louis Greville, at Heale House, Middle Woodford, near Salisbury in Wiltshire. Working with four Japanese gardeners, he installed an authentic sealing-wax-red bridge over a tributary of the Avon. It leads to a fragile thatched tea house, situated at the point where two streams cross. Good feng-shui. The superb garden is open daily (10am-5pm). Admission pounds 2.50.

In the same year, another party of Japanese gardeners were brought in to create a garden at Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire. There is a Shinto temple, a miniature version of Mount Fujiyama and meandering streams which symbolise the passage of time and the way we lead our lives - always on the move. The planting is in keeping: excellent bamboos, pines and maples. Tatton Park is open from April to September daily (10.30am-6pm) except Mondays. Admission pounds 2.50.

The fascination with Japanese gardens continues. In 1991 one opened in Holland Park, west London, a cool, contemplative acre of rock and evergreen and sand commemorating the end of the Japanese Festival held that year. The park is open from 7.30am to sunset.

Ami Yume Teien is a Japanese garden at Blockley, near Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, which Tim Brown is opening this year for the first time. In the improbable setting of a Cotswold village is a Japanese dry-landscape garden bounded by fences in the Japanese style. Rectilinear paths subdivide the area into five smaller rectangles. The garden is open 22 and 29 June, 6 and 13 July (2-6pm). Admission pounds 1. It is also open by appointment (01386 701026).

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