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Started by Steve, April 17, 2011, 08:54:15 pm

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I would like to start a new thread on what I will call "mono gardeners", for lack of a better term. A bit of background is in order first to introduce this topic properly. I have been been around some of these gardeners in the past, as I'm sure you have. I have always been fasciated with mono gardeners, gardeners that only grow one type of plant. Probably like most of you I enjoy many different types of plants and try to fit the proper plant into the best place in the garden to enhance my vision. Then of course there are the stones, lanterns, fences, water, etc. that all create the Japanese garden.
But on to my topic. Many years ago I read a book about a Japanese gentleman that was transferred to the US on business. He was in his 60s and was also a master instructor in the renowned Japanese fencing school named the "Yagyu Shinkage Ryuu". To make a long story short, he needed someone to train with to keep up his practice, so he took in a young teenage boy as a deshi. For four years he trained this young man daily and then one day he finally invited him for lunch with him and his wife. After lunch he excused himself where upon the deshi discovered that he had gone out back to tend his Japanese Iris garden. This was all that he grew. The young student asked him, "Sensei, why do you just grow one plant, especially one that only blooms for about one month annually"? The sensei became very quite while reflecting upon the young man's question, where upon he finally replied "Patience", where upon he told his young student that he had been raising iris since he was 13 years of age. If you have ever had the opportunity to witness a Japanese martial art demonstration there are three things that will be included. Actually these three things are what separate them from all the other country's martial arts. They are stillness, slowness, followed by an explosion! Kinda of like the annual flowering of an iris.

Another example I will offer up is the little known art of growing "Fukiran", the Japanese orchid of the rich and noble, or the wind orchid as it is sometimes called (Fuuran). (My avatar is an ancient fukiran). Now there are over 25,000 recognized species of orchids in the world, so why would people limited their interest to just one species of orchid?

Then there is Sen no Rikyu and his morning glory fields I have read of.

Of course there are many common examples such as bonsai growers, etc. My question I would like to see addressed is do any of you know of other examples such as I have given? I would be very interested if you know of any, both Japanese or anyone else? Also, what type of mentality does it take for one to be so dedicated to a single species of plant to spend a lifetime growing it? Please search your memories and let us know what you have experienced and why?

Thank you very much,


Steve,  This is a very interesting subject and one that is not really discussed.  At first I thought I did not know of any gardens that were mono gardens.  So as I usually do I googled it and there really is not much info or photos of these gardens.  But through the info I did get I realized I knew of two or three I was very familiar with.  A pine forest would be considered a mono garden, your lawn (if all you have is grass) and the last one I think many of us would be familiar with and that is a rose garden.  I know this is not of much help to your post but very interesting.

I look forward to replies on this one, as it seems a rare form of gardening.  Photos would be cool too.



You might also consider bamboo gardens or groves. Yes it grows like a weed but I was at an estate in Nara where the owner had paths and a few ornaments here and there, but his garden was primarily Moso bamboo and he liked it that way.
Joshua M. Smith, PhD


Technically, the term is monoculture.  You might have better luck search under that.


How beautiful the master explanation to its student.
I made a beginer's mistake to plant to many plants at first. I'm cuting it down gradually and using more of the same plants. I never heard of mono garden before.
Thanks for bring this topic up!

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