Are you familiar with the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi? It’s really an indispensable concept for gardeners to keep at the back of their mind, if not to embrace passionately!
Put simply, wabi-sabi is the art of appreciating the imperfections and the transience around us. A chipped flowerpot, for example, becomes unique due to its damage and tells the story of many summers and winters past. A brand new pot does not have so much character.
Wabi-sabi can be used in all walks of life, but its particularly suited to the garden as the natural world is the very essence of ‘transience’. A garden changes all the time. The walls and the house it serves are grand old gentlemen. When it comes to renovating your garden, then, it can be more rewarding to work with the remains of what’s already there than to clear things out and start from scratch.
For a bit of inspiration, check out these new moving gifs of ancient ruins being renovated into something more modern.
1Castello di Arco (Trentino, Italy)
2Chachabamba – Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
There’s not much at all left of the Inca site of Chachabamba. Its imaginary refurbishment, however, makes good use of the walls that remain, with a grass roof added to carefully balance nature with civilizations ancient and modern.
3Crofter’s Cottage (Orkney, Scotland)
What a shame it is to leave this house uninhabited. The early 19th-century aesthetic still has a part to play today, and a new roof and attic conversion make it perfectly usable for a modern family with a keen sense of history!
4Thackaringa Street House (Silverton, NSW, Australia)
How about those cacti? This artist’s rendition of an old miner’s dwelling doesn’t stop at the building. Some time inbetween, a car has been abandoned in the front court – and it seems a shame to tow it away when it’s rusting so beautifully in the sun.
5The Ruins (Negros Oriental, Philippines)
This one’s a bit more grand. The mansion of a Portuguese sugar merchant is little more than a shell today – but what a shell! As the world wakes up to the need to care for and share our resources more thoughtfully, transforming the Italianate-style building into a communal staying place complete with rooftop greenhouse makes for an honorable next chapter to its story.
6Wukoki Pueblo (Arizona, USA)
It is desert plants that truly bring to life this reconstruction of the Wukoki Pueblo, found between Flagstaff and the Hopi Reservation in Arizona. Those sharp, mischievous needles sure make a lively contrast against the soft, eroding stones of the old place!
What aging elements of your garden do you plan to integrate into your next design?