In a wabi-sabi garden, plants are chosen because they belong in that garden and in that climate, and they’re allowed to strut their stuff if they’re considerate of the plants around them. Both plants and guests are encouraged to meander and explore.
While photographing homes from California to Maine, I’ve found much wabi-sabi brilliance. My favorite shots of all time capture the magic of simplicity, the beauty found in age and the good instincts that wabi-sabi encourages.
Salt glaze pottery, primitive colonial furnishings and pewter bring wabi-sabi into your home--while honoring our American traditions.
Wabi-sabi is wildflowers, not roses; weathered wood, not plastic laminate; native landscaping, not Kentucky bluegrass. Pictures tell a thousand words.
Planning a party? Let wabi-sabi’s influence lead to a casual, comfortable gathering.
A flea market basket that called to me, my grandmother's hand-embroidered linens and a quilt made by a circle of women in Minnesota are among the wabi-sabi items that I wouldn't want to be without.
My old wabi-sabi home stood witness to celebration, sorrow, our children’s first words and fumbling first steps, dinners shared at the end of each day. It provided all that a home could and should, and now it's my lesson in non-attachment.
Mother readers weigh in on the wabi-sabi objects that give them joy and solace--from old books to heirloom quilts (and a few surprises). This community of kindred spirits embodies the art of appreciation. Enjoy!
Wabi-sabi is underplayed and understated, a quiet, undeclared beauty that waits patiently to be discovered. It’s a fragmentary glimpse: the branch representing the tree, shoji screens filtering the sun, the moon obscured behind a ribbon of cloud.
Wabi-sabi is sinewy, flecked browns and yellowed greens, the myriad stone and moss shades, a slate-gray cloud’s washed violet underside. Like nature, wabi-sabi paints in multidimensional swatches that are never what they appear to be.
Learn to let go of associations with price, value, age and prestige and just appreciate beauty without judgment. Nature is the best muse for cultivating wabi-sabi.
In the kitchen, we can cultivate our sense of aesthetics and function. Tools can be beautiful. Food can be art. Cooking can be meditation.
Find out how wabi-sabi, an ancient Japanese philosophy that promotes attention, reverence, generosity and respect, can build the foundation of a happy home.
A San Francisco architect brings wabi-sabi to his work through craftsmanship, employing natural materials to create a holistic environment that’s not cookie-cutter or slick, and eschewing ornamentation for what is needed and meaningful.
Frugality and lack of pretense or compromise are key ingredients in creating a wabi-sabi home.
A quiet life filled with appreciation for simple things is the richest life possible.
Every once in a while we need to rebel against the machines. Hand a towel to your significant other and ask him to dry while you rinse. Sweep the floor with a real broomcorn broom. Have a real conversation. Enjoy things happening slowly.
There can be no greater happiness, the Japanese say, than to live a life that follows the natural order of things.
Wabi-sabi has infused Western design for centuries—though its advocates rarely knew it. It’s in the plain, efficient homes built by the Shakers, the unsentimental Arts and Crafts style, Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie houses and midcentury furniture.
Natural beauty is priceless. We can take in and appreciate a great view because we don’t have any hope of owning it, and we can’t manipulate it. With our egos out of the way, we can learn to simply observe.
There's only one rule for wabi-style flowers: strive for a natural look, with seasonal blooms and branches arranged as they are in the field. Don't worry about perfection. Your "arrangement" is a humble admission that we can't improve on nature.
In a wabi-sabi house, space and light are the most desirable ornaments. Follow these steps to clear the clutter so they can shine through.
Wabi-sabi is never slobby, but we can allow ourselves to stop trying so hard and just appreciate our warm bed at the end of the day—whether it’s made or not.
If we use high-quality items in our everyday lives, our lives become a sort of training. By using each item with care and careful consideration, the way we live becomes a tradition.
We no longer have to make what we need to get by day by day, but for many the desire lingers—and even surges as a strong cultural movement from time to time. Making and growing things yourself is a gentle rebellion against a mass-produced world.
On Wabi-Sabi Wednesdays, I feature excerpts from my book, Simply Imperfect: Revisiting the Wabi-Sabi House, which was released last month.
Wabi-sabi’s roots lie in Zen Buddhism, brought from China to Japan by 12th-century traveling monk Esai, who also picked up a few tea seeds while he was there. Zen, with its principles of “vast emptiness and nothing holy,” stresses austerity, communion with nature, and reverence for everyday life and everyday mind as the path to enlightenment. Zen monks lived ascetic, often isolated, lives and sat for long periods of concentrated meditation. To help his fellow monks stay awake during these sessions, Eisai taught them how to process tea leaves into a hot drink. Tea had arrived in Japan.
Once it left the monk's hands, tea took on a life of its own. Around the 14th century, the ruling classes developed elaborate rituals that took place in large tea rooms built in a gaudy style known as shoin, with imported hanging scrolls and formally arranged tables for vases and incense burners. Tea practitioners proved their wealth and status through their collections of elegant tea utensils and lacquered serving ware during three-day weekends where up to 100 cups of tea--as well as food and sake--were served. All of the day's revered Tea masters pushed the opulent style, to the delight of Chinese merchants and importers.
Zen Buddhism's Seven Ruling Principles are wabi-sabi's foundation. They're also excellent guiding lights for a good home and life.
Charles and Ray Eames are modern wabi-sabi heroes who brought fresh, spare furniture, without pretense or stodginess, to the masses. Their home was a wabi-sabi masterpiece.
Not quite ready to get rid of family heirlooms and art that you don’t have space to display? The Japanese practice of rotating precious items through a special alcove, or tokonoma, on a seasonal basis is less painful than giving away or selling them.
Let the ancient Japanese art of wabi-sabi help you purge unwanted items and get organized for the new year.
Flea market shopping takes dedication and agility--and it's a ton of fun if you're well prepared.
The four principles of Tea ceremony—harmony, respect, purity and tranquility—are the means to a good life.
Together, wabi (humility) and sabi (beauty in rust) become more than the sum of their parts--a philosophy that promotes peace, serenity and respite in our homes.
Giving yourself a quiet space for retreat and reflection helps nurture quiet, calm and peace.
In Japan, wabi-sabi can be found in the small moments of beauty and acts of hospitality that pervade the culture.
As we watch the devastation's aftermath in Japan, the world will learn valuable lessons from a culture that reveres service to others, deep acceptance and community.
Strongly influenced by wabi-sabi's principles, the leaders of the Arts and Crafts movement railed against "the swinish luxury of the rich," ornamental excess and the poverty of people who lacked creativity.
Today is not a day for selling books. It's a day for prayer and solidarity with the Japanese people.
Your simply imperfect arsenal for getting the whole house clean--naturally.
Wabi-sabi teaches us appreciation for the good energy and soul that handmade items bring to our homes. Etsy, the premiere source for handcrafted home goods, offers an extensive list of items whose sale will benefit Japanese relief efforts.
Meditating has never come naturally to me, probably because of my goal-oriented approach. Wabi-sabi helped me see find peace in simple solitude (and long dog walks) instead.
Alabama Chanin makes sumptuous fabrics from scraps, Mona Hoffman imagines the people she's crafting each lamp for as she makes it, and potter Shiho Kanzaki believes that attitude is everything. These are a few of my favorite wabi-sabi artists.
Over the past 15 years the noise level in cities has increased sixfold; urban noise doubles every eight to ten years. Even in the country, we can't escape the sound of airplanes and engines. What can you do?
Sen no Rikyu's simple, unpretentious ceremony using rustic, local tools usurped the elaborate, ostentatious Tea ceremonies that were the norm in 16th-century Japan. His "aesthetic of the people" made Tea accessible to all--and endures to this day.
Inspired by back-to-the-landers Scott and Helen Nearing, Kate NaDeau grows her own food and enjoys the simple pleasures of seasonal living in her handbuilt stone cottage in Maine. She is the epitome of good wabi-sabi living.
You can help support a community garden in New York City's East Harlem neighborhood.
Is having too many gardens a detriment to selling a suburban home?
Volunteers work to start the Sunset Hill Elementary School Garden in Lawrence, Kan.
A transplanted Choctaw and Southerner, a grandmother shows her strength and creativity during the Industrial Revolution and shows how one can face and adapt to life’s challenges.
Learn to create your own heirloom kitchen garden at this 3-course series in Pennsylvania.
A recent poll asked you what percentage of people living in the U.S. you would guess grow food gardens. Most respondents underestimated the actual numbers of households with home gardens, a growing trend.
The Food Is Free Project has become a food revolution in Austin, Texas
Roger Doiron, a MOTHER EARTH NEWS contributor and the found of Kitchen Gardeners International, recently spoke at a TEDx conference about the power of gardening.
Who needs a TV drama, when, out the back door, we have our own alfresco drama, complete with territory battles, births, deaths, alien invasions, mystery, beauty and fornication, unfolding daily before our very eyes if we care to look.
Ditch unhealthy school lunches with a fresh lunch idea for kids: school gardens. Beyond putting fresh, healthy food in schools, cafeteria gardens are a great classroom tool and a big step towards more sustainable schools.
Friday, May 10 is National Public Gardens Day. Find out what special events are happening at a garden near you.
From the more practical, money-saving side of things, to controlling your own destiny, the benefits of a victory garden are many.
Meredith Skyer outlines the history of victory gardens in the United States and why this nation, facing a food crisis, should start to sow for victory once again.
Garden like the Native Americans by digging up 18-inch-diameter hills on four foot centers. Get your crops started, then worry about working the areas in between the hills.
The community garden in East Harlem, Chenchita's Garden, is beginning to take shape.
Julie Lavigne relates her grandparent’s home in the city, a modern homestead for their time, and proves you can live a self-sufficient lifestyle in an urban setting.
Tips on how to celebrate National Wildflower Week, May 6-13!
The success of Urban Gardens is a story about an expansion of one’s reach outside of one given discipline.
Explanation of what bioretention systems are and how they are used to reduce and filter storm water runoff.
Facts on the links between weather and pumpkins and what you can do with leftover pumpkins.
Jason Helvingston of Orlando, Fla., fights for his right to grow food in his front yard garden after the City of Orlando cited him for illegal gardening, pitting food self-sufficiency against city ordinance.
A list of ways we could each show support or teach our friends and family to support the Local Foods Movement
Amid mounting concerns over food security and sustainable food systems, the rise of urban gardens and agriculture has been on the rise. Due to a paralleled increase in the numbers of people interested in learning how to garden, programs in urban agriculture at colleges as well as nonprofit urban garden training programs have sprouted up across the country.
My mission was to find like minded 'earth nurturers' in a neighborhood where there seems to be a dearth of us! What I found was humility and kindred spirits, and the makings of a great dinner party!
The healing power of plants can remediate years of soil and water pollution, and create unexpected islands of beauty.
The Spirit of Hope garden in Detriot offers a safe, nurtuting place for plants and children to grow.
Tips on how to control soil erosion and help protect one of Earth's most important natural resources.
Tips on how to conserve water in the fall with weather-based irrigation controllers.
Your attractive food garden could win you $500 and a chance to be featured in MOTHER EARTH NEWS.
In a war on gardens, the City of Orlando has taken issue with the rows of beans, greens, and other vegetables occupying Jason and Jennifer Helvenston's front yard garden. The Helvenstons respond to the City's request they remove their "illegal" garden.
In Kenya, even for middle class families, much of what ends up on the dinner table is grown or raised at home. With food prices rising, more and more Americans are looking towards ways of growing some of what ends up on their table at home. Both in terms of personal health, and the environment, this is a very good trend—it's a food source as local as you can get.
When traveling, consider checking out the community gardens in the area. You can meet local people who are passionate about gardening and learn about the climate and crops that may be different than yours.
Want to find a new garden plot for next year? Look into community gardens in your area, or start your own!
The documentary Urban Roots takes a look at how city farming is transforming the city's vacant lots into community gardens, ultimately changing the community as a whole in the process.
Think your balcony's too tiny to provide food and fun? Check out Apartment Therapy's great tips for making the most of your outdoor space.
We learned a long time ago that we couldn’t attract an audience for our magazines unless we gave our readers tools they could use to improve the world personally. A backyard organic garden is the perfect symbol of positive vision and commitment.
In Arizona, an intrepid desert gardener harvests rainwater to grow his own food. A Missouri garden writer feeds his soil to feed himself. In Texas, a garden wall encourages community. These are a few of my favorite gardens.
Using cold frames for fall salad greens can extend your season of fresh eating.
Where are we headed, vis a vis our food systems? Can we as individuals make a difference in our food? Yes!
St. Paul, Minnesota, not only allows front yard gardens and promotes growing vegetables in containers, but encourages residents to beautify the boulevard with plants, including edibles.
Describes the process of forming a community garden from the physical and energetic standpoints. The power of teamwork, the joy of accomplishment and the building of a feeling of group unity are described.
Kansas City's 18Broadway project is a superb example of how to capture and store rainwater to grow food in the heart of downtown.
Planting heirloom, non-genetically modified seeds is a great way to help preserve endangered plant varieties--and the planet's very ecosystem.
Urban food forests and public gardens provide communities with an edible landscape for everyone to share. These public fruit forests are the new trend in urban agriculture and play an important role as sustainable local food systems in their communities.