The garden of Svetlana Chizhova

 

The Japanese gardens in Russia

The area of the garden is 1 hectare

The year of the beginning of its creation is 2007

The Japanese garden Im going to tell you about is situated in the north of Moscow region. It occupies a territory of 1 hectare, a half of which is a forest. Svetlana, who is the author of the garden and a professional landscape designer, admits that she has always wanted to see if she can make a Japanese garden. She even had an idea of creating such a place in her own garden. Svetlana doesnt only like Japanese gardens, its interesting for her to try and combine a Japanese style and Russian mentality. Her client often went on business to Japan, where she got acquainted with Japanese gardens. They made an incredible impression on her and the woman wanted to have her own Japanese garden. Svetlana agreed without hesitation. She was in love with those gardens and after visiting Japan, this feeling grew into a true passion.

The garden of Svetlana Chizhova

I dont think Ill be mistaken saying Svetlanas garden is one of the biggest Japanese gardens in Russia. As for me, Ive never come across such an enormous project (except for a Japanese one in Botanical Gardens). The choice of the style is very interesting, too, as the garden is made in the spirit of stroll gardens, characteristic of Japan in the 17th century. At that time the country carried out the policy of isolation. Having no possibility of travelling, rich daimyo tried to create a wonderful world in their gardens where they could admire well-known landscapes which were also poetic and mythical. As a rule those gardens covered large areas, so the choice of this style in Svetlanas work is undoubtedly the best.

The compositional center of the garden is a pond with two islands. The contours of the pond together with a stream flowing from it resemble a flying dragon or a ray. There is a network of paths which allows you to walk all around the place, admiring various pictures. Several places for rest such as gazebos and benches are provided. The paths often split, offering to pick this or that direction. You can go to the Pavilion of four pictures or another one; stop on a bridge to watch a fast-flowing stream or round it; walk around the garden or look in on a hidden corner and sit on a bench there. Due to the structure of the path network, a stroll is always new and fascinating.

The garden of Svetlana Chizhova

The garden of Svetlana Chizhova

Svetlanas garden isnt only thought out carefully, the designer also shows the knowledge of Japanese culture and its peculiarities, e.g. no one can get to one of the islands. There is neither bridge nor step-by-step stones in water. That island represents mythical mount Horai (western paradise in Japanese mythology), where saint immortals lived so ordinary people couldnt reach it. There is a zigzag bridge leading to another island (yatsuhashi), symbolizing all the obstacles in the mans life which they have to overcome. That is the reason why yatsuhashi are built in boggy places or across streams. The irises growing along their banks symbolize courage and firmness. The Japanese believe the complicated construction of a bridge might be a protection from evil spirits making them lose their way and stay away from a house. Yatsuhashi can be often seen in works of Japanese literature, art and in gardens, of course.

The garden of Svetlana Chizhova

There are several types of Japanese lanterns in the garden. The sculptor depicted the claws and scales of a dragon on one of them. The other two lanterns represent two twin brothers from a fairy tale, in which one brother is a philosopher in Kyoto while the other one lives in the country.

The garden of Svetlana Chizhova

Thus, a walk around the garden doesnt only give an opportunity to admire amazing views, but also lets us see and hear fascinating stories which are both imaginary and real. In that project Svetlana employed an idea which had been widely used by Japanese designers in the 17th century: a garden was a story. The technique allowed visitors to find out a lot about culture and history of their country. In Svetlanas garden we learn about mysterious Japan and, associating it with bright visual images, perceive the information a lot better.

The garden of Svetlana Chizhova

The garden is also decorated with two gazebos. I find the name of one of them very intriguing- Pavilion of four pictures. Its not by chance as there is a pole in the center, wound with vine, and a square bench around it. So depending on a mood, wish or a season, you can choose any part of the bench to admire a particular landscape. One of the most picturesque views is on the pond with island. On the opposite side a step-by-step path meanders through the shrubs, goes under arched gates and leads to the hills where there is a small Dzen dry garden. The third view overlooks a pagoda on a hill. If you turn to the fourth side, youll be amazed at a waterfall.

Svetlana also placed a few benches there. Even though the Japanese dont put them in small gardens, benches are necessary in parks and stroll gardens. Unlike small ones, which are often places for contemplation, parks are designed for walks during which one needs a rest. So in Svetlanas garden the benches dont only look natural but also agree with the idea of a stroll garden. An unusual shape of those benches is also attractive: the back of a bench reminds me of a character or a silhouette of Shintoist gates (torii).

The garden of Svetlana Chizhova

Id like to draw attention to one more important fact. Its often said that a Japanese garden looks unnatural in typical Russian surroundings, among birches and spruces. However, Svetlanas garden seems to be a great example, proving its not true. A birch wood plays a role of a screen separating the Japanese garden from the outward things. A well-proportioned white pagoda looks really nice against this background. This pagoda is situated on one of the hills so that it could be seen from any place in the garden. Besides, I believe its the birch wood that links Japan and Russia, helps to adapt culture of another country to our conditions. But if we have a look at the north of Japan, well see nature which is similar to ours, where birch trees are not rare. Its probable that the Japanese living on Hokkaido would use a birch or fir wood as a background, a borrowed landscape. Do you remember one of the main principles of creating a Japanese garden? Its the use of local species of plants and rocks typical for this very region.

The garden of Svetlana Chizhova

Although Svetlanas garden is Japanese, it has been made for Russian people. Both cultures get on well due to the authors knowledge and talent. There is a special place in the garden designed for receiving guests and making barbeque. Its a big round area hidden behind the hills and plantings. Svetlana found a corner for a fruit garden because, in her words, fruit trees fit in with the Japanese style perfectly, they look like sakura that cant winter in this region.

The garden of Svetlana Chizhova

When I look at Svetlanas garden, I have a feeling that its in Japan. The designers artistic flair is not the only reason. The ability to feel the essence of a Japanese garden and to concentrate on studying the material carefully couldnt help but produce such an unbelievable result. Im sure this fantastic garden should inspire those who still hesitate whether to create a Japanese garden in our conditions or not. Without doubt, the answer is yes!

The Japanese gardens in Russia

Photo: Svetlana Chizhova

Text: Irina Andrianova

 

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