Our design is a little different. The 11th century garden manual also mentions that the garden should
resemble a local scene in nature, so instead of black stones we used our local Monzogranite that is so
spectacular in the park. Because white gravel would be too severe under our bright desert sun, we are using
a light tan gravel called Barstow Gold. This achieves the proper contrast with the stones.
The stones have not been haphazardly placed, as there are many rules to be followed. Stones shall be
placed in groups of 2, 3,or 5. The stones in the group and the groups themselves should form an approximate
triangle. The total number of stones shall be of an odd number; 5, 7, 9, etc. The master stone, usually the
largest stone, is placed near the right or left edge near the centerline of the garden, and dictates the total
design. The stones of a group shall be of different sizes, placed at an uneven distance from each other and
not in a straight line.
Whatever position the stones were found in nature must be replicated in the garden. A stone found horizontal
or upright must be placed in that position and stones must be natural and unaltered. It was believed that the
spirit of the stone would be lost if these requirements are not met. Another important aspect of the Japanese
garden is what is called a borrowed view, the view beyond the garden. Our borrowed view is magnificent
Joshua Tree National Park.
Garden design is taken very seriously by the Japanese and master garden designers are highly respected. A
few years ago an international workshop on the concept of Dry Landscape Gardens was presented at the
Kyoto Institute of Technology. A lengthy paper was presented that stated, in part, “Traditional concepts in the
garden aesthetic remain difficult or even impossible to articulate, perhaps since they are rooted so deeply in
phenomenal awareness and intuition.” Another key point that was made: ” ....the visual percept on infinity is
achieved with a finite, limited number of rocks.” It has been said that to a Zen Buddhist the stones are not as
important as the space between the stones. A Karesansui is basically designed space.