From the brochure by the builders, Anne, Caroline, Camilla and Peter Dalsgaard:
A Japanese garden in Denmark, where Danes can come and experience Japanese culture, has been Peter’s dream for the last 25 years. Throughout this time, Peter, who is educated in landscape design and techniques, has worked steadfastly to learn everything there is to know about Japanese garden culture. He has studied at the university in Kyoto and worked for a Japanese landscape designer creating traditional gardens and learning about their history. After her first visit to Japan in 2003 Anne was gripped by the same enthusiasm for Japanese culture. With a Master’s degree in horticulture and a PhD. in soil physics, she has cherished working with plants and growing media for over 20 years. Anne is also passionate about serving good food and drink and visits Japan annually to find fresh inspiration for the kitchen and garden. The origin and the driving force behind the Japanese Gardens project is Peter and Anne’s desire to achieve a peaceful and harmonious life, and to live among and pass on their passion for Japanese gardens and culture.
When the house and land were purchased in March 2000, it was with the intention of creating gardens inspired by Japanese style. There was no plan originally to open the gardens to the public, but the idea developed and in autumn 2005 the decision was made. The possibility of launching the “The Japanese Gardens” company was explored and, in spring 2006, the formalities were completed. The development of the project – the hard physical work – could then begin. In the period between spring 2006 and 1 May 2007 the gardens were built up. The original garden consisted of a lawn of 3,500 m2, 1,000 m2 of fruit trees and a large herbaceous border of 1,000 m2.
Peter gave up his job and worked full time on the project. Anne helped in the evening and at weekends while completing her doctorate – on top of that there were two young children Caroline and Camilla, aged 1 and 4 years respectively, that needed some attention.
In June 2006, Peter’s former chief from Japan came to Denmark to advise on how to create a genuine Japanese garden. That summer, natural rocks and stones were positioned to create the landscape – more than 800 tons of stone was used, of which 770 tons came from the local area. The remaining 30 tons came from Sweden and was used in the meditation garden. In the autumn the fence around the garden was erected and the large trees and shrubs were planted.
During the winter, the Tea House in the meditation garden was built, along with the large Japanese house which is now the site of the café and shop. The gardens were finished in the spring and Japanese recipes were collected, Japanese artifacts ordered and the final loose ends tied up. The gardens were ready to open on 1 May 2007 but are still constantly being developed.
In 2008 the entry portal to the walking garden and a waiting bench for the Tea House were built according to old Japanese drawings and considerable time was spent refining existing features. The new entrance to the location was built in 2009 so people are now captivated by the mystique of Japan on the way to the gardens. In 2010 lights were installed in the fence all around the gardens, so on evening openings the fence now creates a magical atmosphere. The lunch area was covered with a pergola and planted with wisteria, and finally the gables on the private house were decorated with the new “Japanese” sides of straw.
A new building in Japanese style was inaugurated in 2011, and a totally unique courtyard garden was made between the old and new buildings. In 2012 the gates to the new temple garden, with its roots in zen-Buddhism, were opened and 2013 saw a new nature trail opened from the other side of temple garden. The Bonsai garden got a makeover with a new gable giving a better atmosphere. In 2014 the parking lot was planted with bushes and trees and the surrounding area was embellished with granite chippings to make the entrance to the gardens more appealing. In 2015 a pathway was added through the pine grove and the picnic area furnished with benches and tables. The parking lot capacity was increased and blue hydrangeas that bloom in the autumn were planted.
In all, over 5,000 trees and shrubs and 13,200 ground cover plants have been planted. A pump supplies the five brooks, pumping 150,000 liters of water per hour, equivalent to around seven buckets of water per second.
Anne, Caroline, Camilla and Peter Dalsgaard
The Japanese Gardens consists of six gardens: the garden of life (also called the history garden), the view garden, the walking garden, the temple garden, the courtyard garden and the meditation garden:
The garden of life or history garden: The garden begins at the entrance where the brook starts its journey – this symbolizes the beginning of life. The garden follows the brook as it winds its way through the landscape, alternating between waterfalls and calm water.
The brook converges with another into a stream and continues its journey through ‘life’. The stream flows into the first lake where the peaceful water symbolizes a calm life and the start of adulthood. Into this lake flows another little brook, symbolizing the arrival of a child. There is brief turbulence in the brook’s movement and then the water flows into another lake – and life is again calm. Finally, the stream of life disappears into the last lake lying in the shadows between the trees in the woods where it passes the pagoda, which in Japan corresponds to the church. From here it goes on to eternal life.
The Kadamatsu and Tsukubai: By the entrance to the garden are the kadomatsu 門松 , bamboo New Year’s decorations to welcome the gods of the harvest. There is also a tsukubai つくばい used in Japan to rinse mouths and hands and symbolically cleanse the body and soul before going into the garden. As the water in most tsukubai is not drinking water this is done symbolically only.
The Meditation Garden and The Teahouse: This is an abstract garden used for relaxation and calming. We have chosen to create a dry landscape where the white granite chippings illustrate water – this is why they are raked into waves. The intention is to sit on the terrace and enjoy the view over the garden and allow your mind to wander or to collect your thoughts. In our meditation garden there are three abstract rivers that converge in a lake by the terrace and then leave the garden. The Tea House was built to original scale and, as with a traditional Japanese tea house, it has sliding rice-paper doors and rice-mats on the floor.
View garden: In this garden, which surrounds a lake featuring stepping stones, the visitor walks around the edges and looks towards the center. This gives a different perspective to a traditional Danish garden where it is usual to go to the center and look outwards. In this way, the visitor to a Japanese garden can build a deeper picture.
By going around the Japanese view garden many different views are created using the same elements numerous times from different angles.
Walking garden: This garden sits behind the two houses with thatched roofs. It is a garden where we have combined all the best things we have experienced in nature into something that could be called a ‘compressed hike’. The inspiration for this garden comes from treks to different waterfalls, for example, we have used crags we saw in New Zealand, brooks from Sweden and the big waterfall is based on a similar one in USA. The intention is that the garden should be a platform for thoughts and fantasies to transport the guest to the places they have been or want to go to.
Temple Garden: Zen Buddhism is the theme in this garden which uses it as a medium to reach into the ‘empty space’ – also called ones *inner*. The garden is very simple and contains only a few components that can disturb the eye making it easier to achieve inner peace and balance. According to Zen Buddhism, when ones inner self is in balance, one can make the right decisions for your life. Gardens like this are used daily in Japan to achieve inner peace and so a better basis for making the right decisions, both in business and personal context.
Courtyard Garden: As the name indicates this garden is small. It is often used between houses to make the best use of the space. The garden should be understood as a three-dimensional picture where the window frames create the frame of the picture. The garden is 3.3m2.