100 books like Japanese Gardens

By Mitchell Bring, Josse Wayembaugh,

Here are 100 books that Japanese Gardens fans have personally recommended if you like Japanese Gardens. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Secret Teachings in the Art of Japanese Gardens: Design Principles, Aesthetic Values

Mira Locher Author Of Zen Garden Design: Mindful Spaces by Shunmyo Masuno - Japan's Leading Garden Designer

From my list on digging into Japanese gardens.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I first saw an image of a Japanese garden, it was unlike anything I had seen before. I just knew I had to visit Japan to see the gardens and try to understand the culture that produced this artistry. I later had the opportunity to work for a small Japanese architecture firm in Tokyo. During those seven years, I explored gardens, landscapes, villages, and cities, trying to absorb as much of the culture as I could. Japanese gardens still fascinate me, and I love learning about contemporary designers and gardeners in Japan who are keeping the traditional spirit alive, while exploring what a garden can be in the present day.

Mira's book list on digging into Japanese gardens

Mira Locher Why did Mira love this book?

I love that this book uses clear language to explain how design principles in Japanese gardens are transmitted from master to apprentice, the effect those principles have on the way we see and experience a garden, and the connection of the gardens to cultural values. The final section is a translation of a classical garden manual, and the descriptions of “reading” and placing rocks is fascinating – you will never see a rock in the same way again!

By David A. Slawson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Secret Teachings in the Art of Japanese Gardens as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The art of the Japanese garden is a 1,500-year-old landscape design tradition that is still evolving, still instructive. Secret Teachings in the Art of Japanese Gardens explains the fundamental principles of this tradition and describes how those principles may be applied to a much wider range of environments than exists in Japan. In the first section the author draws on his own experience as an apprentice to a master gardener in Kyoto, as well as his considerable knowledge of Japanese classical texts, to present the garden design process in terms of three primary aesthetic


Book cover of Sakuteiki: Visions of the Japanese Garden: A Modern Translation of Japan's Gardening Classic

Mira Locher Author Of Zen Garden Design: Mindful Spaces by Shunmyo Masuno - Japan's Leading Garden Designer

From my list on digging into Japanese gardens.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I first saw an image of a Japanese garden, it was unlike anything I had seen before. I just knew I had to visit Japan to see the gardens and try to understand the culture that produced this artistry. I later had the opportunity to work for a small Japanese architecture firm in Tokyo. During those seven years, I explored gardens, landscapes, villages, and cities, trying to absorb as much of the culture as I could. Japanese gardens still fascinate me, and I love learning about contemporary designers and gardeners in Japan who are keeping the traditional spirit alive, while exploring what a garden can be in the present day.

Mira's book list on digging into Japanese gardens

Mira Locher Why did Mira love this book?

Not only does this book provide a translation of a nearly 1,000-year-old text on garden design – the oldest such text existing in the world, but it also includes extensive annotation and a carefully researched introduction to the cultural and historic influences on the development of Japanese gardens. This is a delightful combination of the technical detail and practical advice of the classic text with the author-translators’ descriptive explanation.

By Jiro Takei, Marc P. Keane,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sakuteiki as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Learn the art of Japanese gardening with this classic, fascinating text.

The Sakuteiki, or "Records of Garden Making," was written nearly one thousand years ago. It is the oldest existing text on Japanese gardening-or any kind of gardening-in the world. In this edition of the Sakuteiki, the authors provide an English-language translation of this classic work and an introduction to the cultural and historical context that led to the development of Japanese gardening. Central to this explanation is an understanding of the sacred importance of stones in Japanese culture and Japanese garden design.

Written by a Japanese court noble during…


Book cover of The World of the Japanese Garden: From Chinese Origins to Modern Landscape Art

Mira Locher Author Of Zen Garden Design: Mindful Spaces by Shunmyo Masuno - Japan's Leading Garden Designer

From my list on digging into Japanese gardens.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I first saw an image of a Japanese garden, it was unlike anything I had seen before. I just knew I had to visit Japan to see the gardens and try to understand the culture that produced this artistry. I later had the opportunity to work for a small Japanese architecture firm in Tokyo. During those seven years, I explored gardens, landscapes, villages, and cities, trying to absorb as much of the culture as I could. Japanese gardens still fascinate me, and I love learning about contemporary designers and gardeners in Japan who are keeping the traditional spirit alive, while exploring what a garden can be in the present day.

Mira's book list on digging into Japanese gardens

Mira Locher Why did Mira love this book?

Systematically tracing the origin and history of Japanese gardens back to China and the influences on Chinese gardens, this book provides a great basis for further digging into the foundations of Japanese gardens. It also carefully documents the historical development of gardens in Japan through the mid-twentieth century, situating Japanese garden design as a “vital artistic activity” that both connects to a particular time, place, and culture and transcends it.

By Loraine Kuck,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The World of the Japanese Garden as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book by Kuck, Loraine E.


Book cover of Japanese Gardens

Mira Locher Author Of Zen Garden Design: Mindful Spaces by Shunmyo Masuno - Japan's Leading Garden Designer

From my list on digging into Japanese gardens.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I first saw an image of a Japanese garden, it was unlike anything I had seen before. I just knew I had to visit Japan to see the gardens and try to understand the culture that produced this artistry. I later had the opportunity to work for a small Japanese architecture firm in Tokyo. During those seven years, I explored gardens, landscapes, villages, and cities, trying to absorb as much of the culture as I could. Japanese gardens still fascinate me, and I love learning about contemporary designers and gardeners in Japan who are keeping the traditional spirit alive, while exploring what a garden can be in the present day.

Mira's book list on digging into Japanese gardens

Mira Locher Why did Mira love this book?

Focusing on how attitudes toward gardens and nature transformed over time, this book starts with the first gardens in Japan and ends with contemporary examples. The chronological approach emphasizes the transitions from one era and style to the next, while the author focuses in on the important influences and aspects of each. The wide range of ideas and examples draw the reader in and also provide ideas for further “digging in.”  

By Gunter Nitschke,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Japanese Gardens as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Japanese garden, like all gardens, is more than mere nature; it is nature crafted by man. It needs the hands of the designer to give it meaning. The Japanese garden belongs to the realm of architecture; at its best, it is nature as art. The phases of its history document the constant redefinition of man's position within and towards nature. Its changing forms respond both to socio-economic developments and to religious and philosophical trends, and thereby reflect the spiritual climate in which its architecture was conceived. At the same time as detailing the characteristics distinguishing and differentiating each of…


Book cover of Japanese Gardening: A Practical Guide to Creating a Japanese-Style Garden with 700 Step-By-Step Photographs

Robert Pavlis Author Of Garden Myths: Book 1

From my list on practical gardening.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love gardening and learning about unusual plants but I find that many gardening books don’t provide a lot of useful advice. I grow over 3,000 different types of plants and have a background in chemistry and biochemisty. I teach gardening to new gardeners and garden design to more experienced gardeners. My students want to learn practical things like solving pest problems and growing plants with more flowers. I am always on the lookout for books that provide them with hands-on practical advice they can use right away. 

Robert's book list on practical gardening

Robert Pavlis Why did Robert love this book?

My favorite garden style is the Japanese garden. It is a simple refined style that is so peaceful and over the years I have learned that you don’t need to turn the whole yard into a Japanese garden. What I do now is use elements of this style in various parts of the garden. The book, Japanese Gardening, will provide you with great insight into various styles of Japanese gardening and make it easy for you to do the same. Add a Japanese walkway into a normal garden and make it special. Or use some of the minimalistic plants to add a calming feeling. This book will give you many great ideas.

By Charles Chesshire,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Japanese Gardening as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This inspiring book offers expert information on how to create the perfect Japanese-style garden in any location, large or small. It presents the history of Japanese gardens and the principles underlying them. Sections on the five classic Japanese garden styles (pond gardens, dry gardens, tea gardens, stroll gardens and courtyard gardens) explain their key characteristics with practical tips on how to achieve them. Fifteen projects for creating complete Japanese gardens follows, with clear explanations, illustrations and gorgeous photography. A plant directory then details the various types of plants with advice on flowering habits and hardiness, while the final section outlines…


Book cover of And Then It's Spring

Phyllis Root Author Of Anywhere Farm

From my list on growing things.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write children’s books, both fiction and non-fiction, including One Duck Stuck, Big Momma Makes the World, Rattletrap Car, Plant a Pocket of Prairie, and, in collaboration with Jacqueline Briggs Martin and Liza Ketchum, Begin With A Bee, a picture book about the federally endangered rusty-patched bumblebee. Recently I have been putting my garden to bed for the winter, pulling tomato vines, harvesting beans that have dried on the vine, cutting herbs, and planting cloves of garlic to grow into heads in next year’s garden. In a couple of months snow will bury the garden beds, and the only gardens will be in the pages of books. Here are five of the children’s books that I love about growing things.

Phyllis' book list on growing things

Phyllis Root Why did Phyllis love this book?

Told in one long sentence, this is the story of a child and their dog who plant seeds after winter and wait and wait and wait for the brown ground to–finally–become green. The ongoing sentence resonates with waiting for hopeful signs that spring is on the way. 

By Julie Fogliano, Erin E. Stead (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked And Then It's Spring as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Following a snow-filled winter, a young boy and his dog decide that they've had enough of all that brown and resolve to plant a garden. They dig, they plant, they play, they wait . . . and wait . . . until at last, the brown becomes a more hopeful shade of brown, a sign that spring may finally be on its way.

Julie Fogliano's tender story of anticipation is brought to life by the distinctive illustrations Erin E. Stead, recipient of the 2011 Caldecott Medal.

This title has Common Core connections.

And Then It's Spring is one of The…


Book cover of Designing with Succulents

Isa Hendry Eaton and Jennifer Blaise Kramer Author Of Small Garden Style: A Design Guide for Outdoor Rooms and Containers

From my list on inspiring you to design your dream garden.

Why are we passionate about this?

We are garden designer Isa Hendry Eaton and lifestyle writer Jennifer Blaise Kramer, co-authors of Small Garden Style. We love getting and sharing inspiration on good garden design to pull our lives more outdoors. In our book, we show you how to use good design to create a joyful, elegant, and exciting yet compact outdoor living space for entertaining or relaxing. Our stylishly photographed guide is a fun way to create lush, layered, dramatic little gardens no matter the size of your available space, be it an urban patio, a tiny backyard, or even just a pot by your door.

Isa and Jennifer's book list on inspiring you to design your dream garden

Isa Hendry Eaton and Jennifer Blaise Kramer Why did Isa and Jennifer love this book?

As plant lovers who live in Santa Barbara, where succulents and aloes are ever-present, we love this book as it feels like a big authority on such a specific subject.

The book offers a crash course in choosing and planning succulents, and reading it makes even a novice feel like an expert. In addition to learning plant names and growing tips, Baldwin offers fun ideas like covering the top of a henhouse with low-maintenance plants.

Plus, the book is bursting with color, so every page is a visual thrill.

By Debra Lee Baldwin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Designing with Succulents as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Designing with Succulents is inspiring, practical, and complete-a treasure for any gardener who loves these otherworldly beauties." -Kathleen N. Brenzel, Sunset Succulents offer dazzling possibilities and require very little maintenance to remain lush and alluring year-round. No one knows them better than the Queen of Succulents, Debra Lee Baldwin. This new, completely revised edition of her bestselling classic is a design compendium that is as practical as it is inspirational. Designing with Succulents shares design and cultivation basics, hundreds of succulent plant recommendations, and 50 companion plant profiles. Lavishly illustrated with 400 photographs, you'll find everything you need to visualize,…


Book cover of Tom's Midnight Garden

Ginny Kubitz Moyer Author Of The Seeing Garden

From my list on gardens as places of discovery and change.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was growing up, my mother loved to garden. I remember visiting the nursery with her and being captivated by all the rows of flowers with the gorgeous names: marigolds, cosmos, dahlias, fuchsias. Now I have a garden of my own, and it’s my happy place. It adds color and fragrance to my life, and it keeps me grounded (literally and figuratively) when things are stressful. And as a writer, I find that story ideas often come to me when I’m working in the garden. It’s a constant source of inspiration and delight.       

Ginny's book list on gardens as places of discovery and change

Ginny Kubitz Moyer Why did Ginny love this book?

When I was a child, I was captivated by this 1958 English novel. It’s every bit as good forty years later. 

Tom, a bored boy spending the summer with his aunt and uncle, finds a rambling Victorian garden in the backyard of the house… but the garden is only there at night, gone during the day.

It’s a gripping time-travel story, one that celebrates the garden as a place where a child can stretch both limbs and mind. And through Tom’s friendship with a Victorian girl named Hatty, the novel touches beautifully upon the ache that comes from seeing your friends grow up before you do. 

The novel’s fantastical elements are handled (and, ultimately, explained) in a totally satisfying way. It’s an enchanting read.

By Philippa Pearce, Jaime Zollars (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Tom's Midnight Garden as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Carnegie Medal

From beloved author Philippa Pearce, this sixtieth-anniversary edition is the perfect way to share this transcendent story of friendship with a new generation of readers. Philip Pullman, bestselling author of the His Dark Materials trilogy, called Tom's Midnight Garden "A perfect book."

When Tom's brother gets sick, he's shipped off to spend what he's sure will be a boring summer with his aunt and uncle in the country. But then Tom hears the old grandfather clock in the hall chime thirteen times, and he's transported back to an old garden where he meets a young,…


Book cover of The Sun King's Garden: Louis XIV, Andre le Notre and the Creation of the Gardens of Versailles

Roderick Floud Author Of England's Magnificent Gardens: How a Billion-Dollar Industry Transformed a Nation, from Charles II to Today

From my list on the history of the gardening industry.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love visiting other people’s gardens, great and small. There are many thousands throughout England but, as I surveyed the beauty of the lakes and rolling lawns of one of them, I was struck by a question: how much did it cost? I found that none of the huge number of books on gardening and garden history gave an answer, so (drawing on my experience as an economic historian) I had to try for myself. Fifteen years later, after delving in archives, puzzling out the intricacies of lakes and dams, exploring ruined greenhouses, peering into the bothies in which gardening apprentices lived, England’s Magnificent Gardens is my answer.

Roderick's book list on the history of the gardening industry

Roderick Floud Why did Roderick love this book?

Louis XIV of France was, like many other European kings and their queens and families, a mad-keen gardener. He had all the resources of his powerful nation, including its army, to help him and the result was the garden of Versailles, probably the most expensive and lavish ever made. It was watered by hundreds of fountains, powered by a set of pumps in the River Seine which was probably the largest machine constructed before the Industrial Revolution. Versailles became the model which kings and aristocrats across Europe aspired to emulate. Ian Thompson tells its history, in detail but in engaging prose. 

By Ian Thompson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sun King's Garden as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

War-monger, womanizer and autocrat, Louis XIV, Frances's self-styled 'Sun-King', was also history's most fanatical gardener. At Versailles, twelve miles outside Paris he created not only Europe's most lavish palace but the most extensive gardens the Western world has ever seen. The Domaine Nationale de Versailles now covers 2,100 acres (about two and a half times the size of New York's Central Park) but in it's heyday under Louis, the grand parc covered an astounding 16,343 acres. Assisting Louis in all this was a lowly-born gardener, Andre Le Notre, whose character and temperament were as different from those of his sovereign…


Book cover of Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt

Carol Fisher Saller Author Of The Bridge Dancers

From my list on nature providing strength and healing.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m not an expert in gardening, forestry, or herbal medicine. But like everyone else, I have a growing awareness that our planet Earth is entirely dependent on thriving forests and insects and even weeds. We owe it to our children and future generations to learn about and protect our precious resources. Although I live in the big city of Chicago and have a tiny backyard, last year I turned my little grass lawn into prairie! I have creeping charlie, dandelions, creeping phlox, sedge grass, wild violets, white clover, and who knows what else. (Luckily, my neighbors are on board.) I’ve already seen honeybees and hummingbirds. It’s not much, but it’s something I can do.

Carol's book list on nature providing strength and healing

Carol Fisher Saller Why did Carol love this book?

Many of us tend to view gardens only from the surface up.

This book dives underground to show how many living things in the dirt are working hard to help us garden. Worms and insects that we might find “gross” are actually essential for airing the soil and warding off invaders.

Plenty of things grow just fine without human help because they have all the helpers they need under the earth. This book shows how nature goes about its business, plants and insects and animals all working together to green the earth.

Bonus: Neal’s illustrations are anatomical wonders, showing worms and bugs with legs and feelers in a friendly light. Squeamish children (and their parents) might make a few buggy friends as they read.

By Kate Messner, Christopher Silas Neal (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A companion to the new Over and Under the Pond and Over and Under the Snow, this sweet book explores the hidden world and many lives of a garden through the course of a year.

Up in the garden, the world is full of green-leaves and sprouts, growing vegetables, ripening fruit. But down in the dirt there is a busy world of earthworms digging, snakes hunting, skunks burrowing and all the other animals that make a garden their home. In this exuberant and lyrical book, discover the wonders that lie hidden between stalks, under the shade of leaves... and down…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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