Answer: Garden design is always easier when you have a theme! In oriental gardening, the key is to remember that "less is more" and to be very selective in the special features you decide to use.
Evergreens are usually important, as are spring flowering trees. Ferns, hostas, and other fairly subtle foliage plants are the accents. Moss is very commonly found, as is bamboo. Chrysanthemums and peonies are traditional, and happily in this country we may "adapt" the look to include almost any flower we prefe as long as it is used with some restraint.
Mysterious pathways, step stones, stone lanterns, simple benches, and water features such as ponds and quiet fountains are often chosen. Another feature with great importance is stone: the larger the piece the better, or at the opposite extreme, the illusion of water created by small rounded stones placed to mimic the channel of a stream.
I hope this gives you a few ideas to start with!
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