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Finding Zen in My Backyard

We built a Zen garden in an elevated portion of our backyard adjacent to several hundred acres of woods.

Zen gardens permit visitors a sense of harmony and appreciation for the present moment.

Rock gardens are valued because they require little upkeep and do not change with the season, epitomizing longevity and fortitude.

The three main stones in are Zen garden are arranged in a classic triad formation. The large centerpiece rocks can represent islands, mountains, or even the Buddha flanked by two attendants. We've been careful not to assign specific meaning to the items in our garden, instead letting visitors absorb the setting and come to their own conclusions.

That being said, the traditional meanings of the elements of our Zen garden are:

  • the setting at the edge of the woods = the interconnectedness with the existing environment

  • rocks (ishi) = mountains and water elements such as streams

  • custom-built bridge (hashi) = the passage between worlds or the journey from inner to outer

  • adornments (tenkeibutsu) consisting of lanterns = enlightenment

  • white sand = purity and emptiness

  • plantings (shokobutsu) = all plants were carefully selected and include azaleas and two weeping cherry blossom trees that will grow together to form an arch

  • water element (mizu) = purification and cleansing

Our Zen garden was featured on the Historic Garden Week of Virginia Tour in 2021.

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