The essence of a Zen garden isn’t so much what it’s made of as the intention behind it — a calming, soothing combination of elements in specific harmony to bring about mental and spiritual balance and contemplation. There’s no fuss, no muss, and no bother in this example by Zeterre Landscape Architecture: the focal point is an Oriental pagoda, screened in and easily reachable through a short flight of steps from the greenery above. It is filled with straw as the flooring, a soft pause before you wander down a gradual slope of decking to a blue “river” below. This “water” flows around a brown-and-white center “island,” with a natural-rock “mountain” as its highest point.
Greenery surrounds the pagoda roof, but all other elements here are hardscape: metal cylinders arranged as a “fence,” a solid rock wall. Step down from the decking and you see the blue “river” extends to an elongated curve, pooling at the end as if cascading from that last point over falls; we don’t see the falls, but we don’t need to. The curves of rock are both liquid and infinite, curling over themselves and easily reversible: follow the innermost trail of rock around itself until it twines you back up the curve of the “river” toward the pagoda again. Just as water flows to the lowest point, seeks the place of least resistance, and finds level ground, so you can allow your thoughts to wend in this garden to softer, more flexible places within.