A whole philosophy is involved in the planning of Japanese gardens. They are intended for contemplation and meditation, as places where you may quietly appreciate without distraction beauties of line, mass and texture in perfect relationship to each other. Japanese gardens do not contain great collections of different kinds of plants or emphasize masses of colour as English gardens do, or stress symmetry, lavishness and architectural qualities as Italian gardens do.

Unlike our cold climate gardens, which feature deciduous trees, Japanese gardens do not emphasize seasonal contrasts. They do reflect changes, of course, but subtly the effect is muted. Evergreens dominate the scene. Deciduous maples and azaleas may add touches of foliage colour in autumn; flowering cherries, Japanese iris and tree peonies, discreetly used, afford some spring bloom; in winter, snow accentuates stone arrangements. But it is asymmetric balance, rather than symmetry and colour contrast that characterize these gardens. There is no attempt to gain effects by repetition. Plants are not used in matched pairs, in rows or in formal beds; rocks are grouped purposefully with no bilateral symmetry.

An important point to remember about Japanese gardens is that they attempt to epitomize nature. Each represents in miniature an expanse of natural scenery, somewhat stylized and formalized and often with details symbolized or suggested, rather than copied.