Asian garden balances humankind and nature

The North Asian Border in the upper garden. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
The North Asian Border in the upper garden. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
The delicate and harmonious beauty of northeast Asian gardens evolved over thousands of years. With the guidance of ancient Chinese philosophers, landowners were encouraged to embrace the beauty of nature rather than focus on the influence of humankind on nature.

This relationship was an important approach to a sustainable future. People were inspired by nature’s principles to create moral ways of living with nature. Chinese chose to grow plants around their homes inspired by the colours, shapes and scents of nature to create a natural balance between nature and humankind.

Although the physical distance and cultural differences between New Zealand and China are vast, we can experience a garden similar to those influenced by ancient Chinese philosophers at Dunedin Botanic Garden. A leisurely stroll through the north Asian borders located at the northern tip of the botanic garden will transport you to another world. No matter what season you visit, you will discover it is always a dynamic and energetic place.

Take in the Deutzia gracilis and Weigela praecox blossoms that signify spring is nigh, enjoy the delicate fragrance of Osmanthus delavayi with their jasmine-like flowers in spring and delight in the splashes of colour from Hypericum hookerianum and Hydrangea paniculata that contrast with the lush green canopy around you in summer.

The North Asian borders are an enchanting place all enjoy year-round, whether you wish to find a peaceful place to meditate or a quiet place to catch your breath.

 - Garden Life is produced by Dunedin Botanic Garden. For further information contact Ben Xie.


Is the grass North Asian?

There is no such single thing as an "Asian Garden". There are many different gardening styles and philosophies ranging from the Indian Mughal rose gardens, South East Asian tropical water gardens, Japanese Zen Gardens etc. Chinese Gardens are simply one style of gardening from which philosophical influences may have spread to some gardens, such as Zen gardens. However, in the myriad of gardening practices in Asia the majority has nothing to do with Chinese gardens. The great Angkor Wat complexes and the Taj Mahal of India are good examples of showcasing interaction between the natural world and humans. The philosophies of the micro and macro flow across most gardening cultures in the world, all having their own unique origin and traditions.

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