The Japanese Garden

Shutterstock / Paula Cobleigh © the japanese garden

This week, Willie pays a visit to the Japanese Garden in Cowden.

In 1925, Professor Jiji Suzuki, Head of the Soami School of Imperial Garden Design in Nagoya, claimed the garden created by Ella Christie at her home of Cowden Castle near Dollar, was “the most important Japanese garden in the Western world”.

Ella’s inspiration to create the seven-acre garden in the early 1900s came following an expedition to Japan. An intrepid explorer, Ella’s many adventures had taken her to India, Tibet, Malaya, China and Borneo. And that’s only a few of the places!

Cowden Castle was demolished in 1952. But Ella’s unique garden has probably never looked better than it was looking this afternoon. Its designer, Taki Handa, was the first and only woman to have designed a Japanese garden of this scale and nature.

On The Home Patch

I’m fortunate that the garden is virtually within walking distance of home. It rests in the shelter of the Ochils. Through well-planned gaps in the planting, the Ochils add that perfect “borrowed landscape”.

I’d been working in my own garden all morning, half-expecting it to rain. Around mid-day when the sun broke through, I thought I’d tidy myself up and make a spring visit to Cowden.

May was a particularly colourful time, with the cherry trees and azaleas in flower. What a lovely peaceful spot it is, too, around the pond. In the middle is the isle of perpetual youth, linked by a zigzagging “Yatsuhashi” bridge.

With its typically Japanese welcome gate, azumaya, Karensansui (dry garden), antique lanterns and woodland walks, it’s hard to think of a more fitting name for this garden than that given by Ella herself: “Sha Raku En


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Willie Shand