The art of imperfection

wabi sabi

Why every gardener should embrace wabi-sabi

There’s an inspiring new way of looking at your garden which is good news for the more hands-off amongst us.

Wabi-sabi – an acceptance of the natural cycle of growth, decay, and death – is nothing new for the Japanese who have been practicing this art since the 15th century, but for the Western world it couldn’t be further away from the never-ending quest for perfection.

Loosely translated, “wabi” means rustic simplicity and “sabi” means the beauty of age and wear. It teaches us to value incompleteness, impermanence and simplicity, giving you more time to enjoy the life’s pleasures…and your garden!

The Greenhouse People explain why every gardener should embrace the art of wabi-sabi and how to do it.

Back to basics 

Nothing in life is ever perfect so why should your garden be?

The key to wabi-sabi is balancing nature and nurture. It’s inevitable that your pots will become weathered and faded over time but rather than repainting or replacing them, accept their rustic feel.

When blossom falls in the spring or leaves in the autumn, leave your rake in the shed and let them gently wilt on the lawn or path. As moss and lichen naturally grows and covers a rockery or pebbled pathway, let it be.

Cherish the old

Wabi-sabi favours few but longer-lasting and higher-quality possessions which improve with age. This, in turn, benefits both the environment and your wallet. 

Hardscaping additions, such as a decking or patio, are initially expensive but will stand the test of time. Evergreen plants and trees will also help to keep your garden looking lush and vibrant throughout the year with minimal work.

Rusting metal gates and plant troughs give an instant wabi-sabi feel. If your garden lacks older, more rustic items, head to your local reclamation yard for preloved items.

Colour yourself calm

When choosing a colour palette for your outside space, look to nature for inspiration instead of the latest design fad.

All hail the trend-setters at Pantone who have created the perfect garden colour palette featuring shades naturally found in lush vegetation and woodland – think berry-infused purple, red wood, eggshell blue and foliage green.

Introduce accents of colour with clay pots, holding pops of purple-coloured flowering herbs like Lavender, Rosemary and Thai Basil. If you have wooden fencing or furniture, give them a new lease of life by sanding them down before splashing on a coat of eggshell blue paint to complement the shades of your new plants.

 Be in the moment

Taking time out of your busy schedule to spend time amongst nature is great for your health.

When it comes to horticultural therapy, the best example can be found in the mysterious Japanese art of Shinrin-Yoku, also known as “forest bathing”, which dates back to ancient Buddhism.

With rising stress-levels fuelled by today’s “always-on” culture, your garden should be a place you can get some valuable R&R, so make sure to have designated spaces for relaxation with comfy seating and perhaps a water feature to create a tranquil ambience.

A relaxed garden will translate to a relaxed you. What better way to chill out than knowing your garden can flourish on its own? So, throw your rake and weeding gloves away, sit back and relax in your new imperfect garden.




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