In praise of Buddha Gardens

“I think the true gardener is a lover of his flowers, not a critic of them. 

I think the true gardener is the reverent servant of Nature, not her truculent, wife-beating master. 

I think the true gardener, the older he grows, should more and more develop a humble, grateful and uncertain spirit."

Reginald Farrer

If you are, like me, on the road to developing a more humble, grateful and uncertain spirit, there is no better way to help this along than by placing a Buddha (or one his 'associates') in a landscape setting.

Volcanic Ash Buddha from Indonesia

Meaningful treasures such as a jizo, Buddha or Indonesian goddess remind us to slow down, take a breath  and live in the moment. Buddha statues elicit a serene response in us...although I am not exactly sure why. Perhaps it is their quiet countenance. Just looking at the photo below calms me down.

Buddha head photo By Jennifer Cheung, Sunset

Buddha heads, in particular, are very powerful. This is especially true if they are lit up at night. Mira and Suresh Suresh found this hefty stone Buddha and set it in their garden. Its serene expression sets a tranquil tone, more so at night.

photo by Benjamin Benschneider

Buddha heads look lovely placed among greenery - like this lava stone Buddha head from Bali. It is set upon a tree stump base and is surrounded by neatly pruned boxwood:

You can also hide a Buddha and make it a sweet surprise in a lush setting as here. Can you see it?:

I think the calming 'Buddha Effect' is due to the ability of a Buddha statue to 'ground' us. We look at a Buddha statue and it somehow connects us to a deep, earthy place within while exhorting us to fly high.

 It is that 'push / pull' feeling we find so entrancing.

Nezu garden monk (not Buddha) by Camera Freak, via Flickr

I create Buddha gardens for my clients. It is a joyful exercise. There are just a few rules: first, create a space that offers a backdrop; place a base that elevates the statue slightly and make it visible only after turning a corner or climbing a slope. 

You can place it by an entrance of a house or building to add some 'gravitas' and a welcoming energy to the setting.

Buddha by my front door - Jan Johnsen
And you don't have to be so serious - smiling baby Buddhas make us happy

This also opens up the idea of using other sorts of statues. As I mentioned before, you do not have to have a Buddha to add great meaning to a garden. Here are a few wonderful statues of his associates or similar that also enhance that 'uncertain and humble' feeling.

Campania - Seated Buddha
I hope this inspires you to create a Buddha Garden of your own.....


  1. I like this idea very much. Now you have me thinking how I could incorporate this into my desert landscape here. I love that first image, the seated Buddha with the moss hummocks in front of it, but unfortunately such plants would never survive here.

    1. To be honest, seabluelee, I planted those moss hummocks but they have failed to thrive and now, 4 years later, it is a grassy mossy mélange. not as neat as before but the feeling remains the same.

  2. Jan I am so happy to hear that you have allowed nature to take the lead. When creating a garden I think it is important to take queues from nature and just let it be.

  3. It is true. Just seeing a Buddha has a calming influence, probably because of what we associate with it - peace, serenity.

    Looking at these photos was like a mini-vacation for me, Jan. I don't have a garden, but have several Buddha statues. :-) Thank you for such a soothing post!

    1. That makes my day! My aim is to create serenity with this blog. Namaste!

  4. Wonderful article! I wish I could show you a picture of my lovely peaceful stone Buddha, looking out over my garden greeted by the morning sun.

    1. Laurin - I would love to see it! Can you post it in a message to the 'Serenity in the Garden blog' Facebook page?

  5. Beautiful shots depicting the Buddha garden. Nice blog work. I came across your blog while “blog surfing” using the Next Blog button on the Nav Bar located at the top of my site. I frequently just travel around looking for other blogs which exist on the Internet, and the various, creative ways in which people express themselves. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Inspector - thank you! Your interests parallel I will bow and nod.

  6. Who is the standing lady statue in his picture from the bottom? She is stunning

    1. Kuan Yin – Kuan means earth, Yin means feminine essence

    2. Fabulous, can't find one like her though ��


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