The Q&A Archives: Creating A Japanese Garden

Question: We just moved to the sunset area of San Francisco, 12 blocks from the beach. We would like to build a Japanese garden. Our space is 30'X40'. The summer weather is always foggy.

Answer: There are many, many plants you can grow in your gardening zone. Here are just a few to consider using when creating your Japanese garden:

Japanese Black Pine (Pinus thunbergiana)
Fast growing to 100 feet in the Northwest but slow growing to 20 feet in Southern California. It grows with spreading branches to form a broad conical tree that spreads with age. Its stiff, bright green needles are in sets of two and are 3 to 4.5 inches long. It is a hardy tree that is grown widely throughout the Western United States. The tree responds well to pruning.

Black Bamboo (Bambusa phyllostachys var. nigra)
A running bamboo with stocks from pure black to olive-dotted black. It can grow to 15 feet if not controlled. The stock is 1.5 inches thick.

Japanese Maple (Acer japonicum)
Deciduous, dainty, picturesque shrub-tree is native to Japan and grows to 20-30 feet. It has nearly round 2-5 inch leaves with 7-11 lobes. It is slow growing especially in southern climates.

Variegated Mock Orange (Pittosporum tobira var. variegata)
Valued for their foliage and form, the pittosporum makes dependable shrubs that can be a garden's all year backbone. Grows to five feet and is as wide. Foliage is gray-green, edged white.

For springtime color, plant Azaleas (Azalea indica).

Other plants to consider including in your garden:
Cinnamomum camphora
Camphor Tree

Ginkgo biloba
Maidenhair Tree

Gleditsia triacanthos 'Golden'
Honey Locust

Grevillea robusta
Silk Oak

Lagerstroemia ind. 'Catawba'
Indian Tribe Crape Myrtle

Lagerstroemia ind. 'Pepperment Lace'
Crape Myrtle

Lagerstroemia ind. Potomac
Crape Myrtle

Magnolia grandiflora
Southern Magnolia
Magnolia soulangiana
Saucer Magnolia

Olea europaea

Pinus canariensis
Canary Island Pine

Pinus thunbergiana
Japanese Black Pine

Pittosporum undulatum
Victorian Box

Podocarpus gracilior
Fern Pine

Podocarpus macrophyllus
Yew Pine

Prunus avium '3 in 1'

Prunus avium 'Stella'

Prunus cer. 'Atropurpurea'
Purple-leaf Plum

Pyrus calleryana 'Bradford'
Bradford Callery Pear

Pyrus kawakamii
Evergreen Pear

Salix matsudana 'Umbraculifera'
Globe Willow

Salix matsudana tortuosa
Corkscrew Willow

Tabebuia chrysotricha
Golden Trumpet Tree

Tipuana tipu
Tipu Tree

Acacia redolens
Spreading Acacia

Azalea 'Sherwood Red'

Buxus japonica
Japanese Boxwood

Camellia japonica
Japanese Camellia

Camellia sasanqua 'Kanjiro'

Cotoneaster congesta 'Likiang'

Gardenia jas. 'August Beauty'

Gardenia thunbergia
Starry Gardenia

Juniperus 'Bonsai'

Juniperus chi. 'Procumbens Nana'
Compact Japanese Garden J

Juniperus chi. 'Procumbens'
Japanese Garden Juniper

Juniperus chi. 'Prostrata'
Prostrate Chinese Juniper

Juniperus conferta 'Shore'
Shore Juniper

Juniperus sabina 'Tamariscifolia'
Tam Juniper

Magnolia 'Sayonara'
Saucer Magnolia

Osmanthus fragrans
Sweet Olive, Tea Olive

Pittosporum tobira
Japanese Pittosporum

Pittosporum tobira 'Variegata'
Japanese Variegated Pitto

Podocarpus macrophyllus 'Maki'
Shrubby Yew

Podocarpus macrophyllus 'Select SpreProstrate
Yew Pine

Punica granatum

Punica granatum 'Nana'
Dwarf Pomegranate

Rhaphiolepis indica
Indian Hawthorn

Rhododendron var.

Tabebuia ipe
Trumpet Tree

Viburnum japonicum
Japanese Viburnum

Xylosma congestum
Shiny Xylosma
Lonicera japonica 'Halliana'
Halls Japanese Honeysuckl

Trachelospermum jasminoides
Star Jasmine

Wisteria sinensis 'Double Purple'
Chinese Wisteria

Hemerocallis 'Anzac'
Day Lily

Iris ensata 'Ivory'
Japanese Iris

Liriope muscari
Lily Turfs

Platycodon grandiflorus
Balloon Flower

Vinca minor

Bambusa mul 'Golden Goddess'
Golden Goddess Bamboo

Bambusa oldhamii
Oldham Bamboo

Bambusa pleioblastus pygmaeus
Dwarf Bamboo

Nandina domestica 'Nana compacta'
Dwarf Heavenly Bamboo

Phyllostachys aureum
Golden Bamboo

Phyllostachys nigra
Black Stemmed Bamboo

Microlepia strigosa
Asian Fern

Pteris cretica
Brake Fern

Acorus calamus 'Variegatus'
Variegated Sweet Flag

Acorus gramineus 'Variegatus'
Sweet Flag

Equisetum hyemale
Horsetail Reed Grass

Imperata cylindrica 'Rubra'
Japanese Blood Grass

Ophiopogon japonicus
Mondo Grass

Ophiopogon japonicus 'Nana'
Dwarf Mondo Grass

Pennisetum setaceum
Fountain Grass

Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum'
Red Fountain Grass

Cycas circinalis
Queen Sago

Cycas revoluta
Sago Palm

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