Wabi-sabi 侘寂 From a Balcony

A few days ago, Jodi, bloomingwriter, brought to my attention the Japanese term wabi-sabi. Gardening Gone Wild and Our Little Acre have  featured posts on this term recently. New to me, I did a little research and found several definitions of the term.  These are three I particularly like.

Andrew Juniper claims, “…if an object or expression can bring about, within us, a sense of serene melancholy and a spiritual longing, then that object could be said to be wabi-sabi.”

From Wiki:  “Wabi now connotes rustic simplicity, freshness or quietness, and can be applied to both natural and human-made objects, or understated elegance. It can also refer to quirks and anomalies arising from the process of construction, which add uniqueness and elegance to the object. Sabi is beauty or serenity that comes with age, when the life of the object and its impermanence are evidenced in its patina and wear, or in any visible repairs.

Finally, my favourite: “It (wabi-sabi) nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.” – Richard R. Powell

I’ve always believed that there is good and beauty in everything, IF we choose to look for it.  In fact, after sharing the idea from Marcia Bogaert @ MeeAugraphie, I used to host a blog “Only The Good” in which, once a week, I would post an ordinary photo — quite often, one of those shots that you immediately delete for its poor composition, lack of focus, meaningless subject, etc.  Everyone was invited to find something good about the photo and leave their findings in comments.  It was amazing how uplifting those thought provoking posts could be.  Unfortunately, for lack of time and participation, the blog eventually fizzled out and I closed the account.

Here are a few photos I chose from those I’ve posted over the past couple years that I believe illustrate the principles of wabi-sabi.  Click to enlarge, if you like.

Fireweed in a burn barrel...Fireweed in a burn barrel

wet_petuniaA still beautiful petunia bloom, limp with rain

dandelion2A thoroughly spent dandelion, it’s intricate web of seeds still beautiful

discardedDead heads and discarded leaves

iceroseRosehips, encased in crystal after a sleet storm

post_kyleAfter Hurricane Kyle, destruction turned to art

fall_goldenrodThe end of goldenrod, still beautiful on a November day

Though I’d never heard the term wabi-sabi before reading these recent posts, it is certainly a concept I try to embrace daily.  How about you?  Will you share the wabi-sabi of your garden?


Author: nancybond

A writer, photographer, naturalist from small town Nova Scotia, Canada.

11 thoughts on “Wabi-sabi 侘寂 From a Balcony”

  1. my WabiSabi, the snow and frost that seems to kill but really just encases the garden in a protective white blanket.
    A beautiful collection of photos, thanks for sharing!

  2. I love that last definition too. The limp petunia and hurricane’s destruction illustrates it so well.

    Shakespeare often uses a melancholy character to voice this outlook – Jaques in As You Like It comes to mind. We connected last year through Dave and it’s nice to reconnect with you.

  3. I like the first photo. It shows the determination of that plant to grow under the worst possible circumstances… and still show beauty.It’s a photo that we might delete in favor of a perfect one.
    As usual Nancy, you have taught us something new with your beautiful photography and words.

  4. Oh I adore that photo of the fireweed in the barrel! That is absolutely fantastic! I actually seeded and grow fireweed in my garden, quite intentionally but I really love the serendipity of this one growing so naturally in the burn barrel. That’s a treasure to appreciate.

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