Karesansui, the Japanese dry landscapes known as Zen gardens, became prominent in fifteenth-century temples to assist in the meditative practice of self-reflection and renewal. While the scene of arranged rocks in gravel induces tranquility, the true mental repose lies in the gardening or raking. “When your hands are busy doing something mundane, your mind has a chance to meditate,” explains Heather Grzybek, garden curator at Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens. Here, she shares tips for creating a relaxing retreat at home. Delray Beach (561-495-0233)
Pick an intimate location.
Zen gardens are typically laid out in an enclosed area, like a courtyard, to frame the space. A secluded corner of a yard or patio makes for a peaceful environment, too.
Keep it simple.
The minimal design aims to unload the mind of material possessions. For a traditional take, install filter cloth, gravel, and an odd number of boulders, such as Florida fieldstones, to avoid symmetry. Grzybek recommends ferns, moss, and mondo grass for a lush, “wet” quality.
Add visual interest.
Minimal doesn’t need to mean barren. In later eras, “flat gardens” incorporated pagodas, water basins, and lanterns. Mexican beach pebbles can provide texture, and adding a rain chain to a gutter can allow water to trickle down from the roof.