When I started designing landscaped gardens as my business, I did visit several sites on the Net to look at how experts did theirs. I was a novice and therefore needed ideas that I could get and learn from others. This search took me to Japanese landscaped gardens and was wonder struck. Their concepts and ideas are packed with uniqueness. I was a beginner to go anywhere near those concepts. But I did introduce pebbles and water bodies in my designs.
They also have dry gardens where you will not find greenery but at the same time they have designs creating rivers and hills only using pebbles and rocks. The blue gravel is what they use to create flowing rivers with not a drop of water. This you will see as a part of the whole landscape as elsewhere you will see the greenery and enough water bodies.
All their gardens have a meaning and they are classified as well. Not just landscaped gardens I even go to see their Wisteria growing abundantly hanging on walls and terraces. Art is in their blood is what you realise looking at those fabulous creations.
I did attempt to introduce some of these ideas though in as simple a way as possible and succeeded in creating a water body. I got a rock light that I placed among rocks. I also put some easy to grow rock plants. I got a lot of appreciation from art lovers and that encouraged me to add these concepts in all the gardens that I designed for my clients. The one thing I could not do was to give meaning to what I had created unlike what the Japanese do. Their concepts start with what meaning they would give to their gardens.
Here is a link that has a slide show of Japanese gardens It also explains each concept.
Have you visited or designed Japanese gardens?