When we think of a garden, we often picture the organic, fluid forms of nature and an abundance of colour and shapes, a mental image that is certainly at odds with the clean lines and monochromatic palatte of minimalism. But, in fact, a minimalist garden can create a very successful blend of these two expectations. The contrast between the minimalist style and the lavish opulence of nature can result in a space that is unique, serene, and beautiful.
Minimalism relies, of course, on the use of as few elements as possible. This garden is a wonderful example of how a very small number of materials can work together to create a whole that is larger than the sum of its parts. With only white and brown stones, pieces of slate and a few carefully placed plants, the garden manages to project an ambiance that reverberates far beyond its modest size and simple plan. The dark wood along the fence in the back works well to compliment the garden space, bringing a warm, comforting atmosphere to what might otherwise feel a bit severe. The path leading to the single statue gives the impression of purpose and direction and makes the overall atmosphere very calming, almost like a shrine.
This garden uses the sharp lines and angles of minimalism to create a space that feels expansive and serene. This effect is at least partially achieved by the use of water. Here, a large, still pool reflects the trees and rocks above, doubling the scene. It also echoes the sky above, so that the entire space in wrapped in which ever colour the weather chooses for the day.
In addition to angular shapes and empty spaces, minimalism is known for its monochromatic use of colour. While indoors the dominant hue is often white, it stands to reason that a garden would be organized by shades of green. The designers of this garden have used metal borders to create a bed that is divided into discrete areas, each of which is devoted to a solid colour or material including water, small grey stones and low plants. The bed is surrounded by grass, adding to the verdant look.
As this photo suggests, minimalism is not really so far a leap from the traditional, lush garden. After all, when we picture a yard overflowing with leaves and flowers, what we are actually imagining is a garden in the spring or summer. As the year progresses toward the colder months, nature begins to adopt a minimalist style entirely on its own. We've all appreciated the beauty of bare tree branches against the winter snow; designing a minimalist garden is a way of preserving this elegant sinmplicity all year round.
Here again we see a garden that uses a restricted colour palette in combination with natural materials like wood, stone and water in order to realize a sophisticated minimalist look. The landscape designer has also chosen to include a Japanese maple, whose deep purple leaves work well with the warm browns of the deck and dark greens of the trees behind. The tree also highlights the Asian influence at work here. As in other gardens on this list, this space is reminiscent of a Japanese style garden, another popular and somewhat minimalist garden design form.
As we think more closely about the mix of minimalism and nature, we begin to notice how evolution has crafted plants into forms that are nothing if not efficient little examples of one of the tenants of minimalism, the idea that form should follow function.