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The art of zen: Japanese gardens

Written by Eve Hunter-Mann

Much like Scarlet, the philosophies of Japanese cultivation relate to the practice of mindfulness. Historically these gardens are a place to let go of unwanted stress through contemplation and reflection. St Mawgan's Japanese Gardens are perfect for a day trip to calm the mind and learn the art of zen (literally!).

From Scarlet to the gardens, it's a short but gorgeous drive (or 40 minute walk) through green scenery, and then the quiet village of St Mawgan. Upon arrival, you're greeted with a canopy of green and rich cardinal stretching over the whole garden, with walls of intertwined bamboo. Abundant with colour, the gardens are home to a vibrant fusion of Japanese and native plants. Close your eyes and listen to the harmony of flowing water as you take a moment of blissful calm amongst the elements.

Continue your journey through stepping stone paths (90% of the gardens are accessible by wheelchair) and bridges until you reach the heart of the gardens, the zen garden.

In the Karesansui the Zen Buddhist monks created a space without distractions, where one can raise the awareness through contemplation and harmonise the spirit with the essence of all things both animate and inanimate. The wonder of Nature and Mans place in it can be appreciated as much for what is absent as for what is present. The old, weathered stones chosen and placed with great care are set on a bed of gravel that is raked anew daily, so that the garden dies and is reborn each day in accordance with the Zen tradition. Interpretation of these odd-numbered stone groupings varies, and is ultimately a matter for the beholder - The Japanese Gardens

Bordered by towering bamboo, the zen garden imparts absolute stillness as you're transported to an oriental paradise. Much like Scarlet, The Japanese Garden's are a place to escape and let the mind be free of mundane stress as you find ultimate peace in the harmony of nature.