The miniature garden industry in
Japan has been transplanted to the United States. For several
centuries the leading landscape gardeners of Japan have made miniature
models of their work so their customers might see how the proposed
gardens would look; very much in the same way an American architect
will make a prospective drawing of a house, except in this case the
garden is made perfect in every detail, except that it is in
The care and degree of exactness put into these gardens is
remarkable. Great care is used to select exactly the right kind of
stones, sand and pebbles to use in each part of the design. Trees are
even dwarfed and stunted through many years of careful watching in
order that they may add to the completeness of the picture.
These miniature gardens are called in Japanese, “Hako Niwa,”
meaning dish gardens, because they are usually built in large
earthenware bowls. Every Japanese garden contains a stream or lake
with one or more bridges spanning from shore to shore. If a natural
body of water does not exist, the landscape gardener simply goes ahead
and makes it.
For a number of years an
annual contest or exhibit of these toy gardens has been held in the
city of Kioto, at which the leading landscape gardeners of Japan
exhibit their work. A great demand has grown up among the tourists
who visit the land of the cherry blossom for copies of these miniature
gardens to take back with them to America.
In response to this growing trade demand, one of the large
Japanese nurseries has opened a branch near New York City, where one
of their expert garden designers devotes his entire time in
constructing miniature gardens for the American public. These gardens
may be properly divided into two classes. The first, which represents
a Japanese garden or familiar landscape in which the landscape and the
house are the principal feature, and the dwarf trees are only
secondary; and the other type in which a very old dwarf tree is made
the central feature, with a few stones and moss-covered rocks at its
base to give an impression of its native heath.
American Forestry, Vol. 26, August 1920, pg.