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More exam question commentaries: from Level 3 Garden Planning
by Janet Prescott - Monday, 5 November 2018, 1:23 PM

 3111 February 2018

Q1 Describe the representative characteristics of a Japanese style garden. [10 marks]

This question relates to Outcome 5 from the syllabus:
5.1 Describe representative characteristics of the following historical garden design styles.
To include: Medieval, Moorish, Renaissance (Italian, French and Dutch), English Landscape,
Victorian, Modernist, Japanese.

Most of the exam questions are broken down into different parts; however, there are some that are
10 mark questions. For this you need to be very well organised in your answers. As the question asks
you to ‘describe’, longer answers are required as well.

The examiner’s comments for this question give examples of characteristics that are suitable, but
also include what shouldn’t be included. It is stated that:
'No marks could be awarded for description of Japanese religion, philosophy or cultural
The question asks for characteristics, so although religion and philosophy and cultural beliefs may be
crucial for Japanese gardens, it does not need to be described on its own to answer the question. It
could be included in relation to particular characteristics, such as describing what a feature is

The examiner’s comments state that ‘Marks were credited for a range of soft and hard landscaping
features’ and that:
The best answers to this question gave descriptions of clearly stated characteristics of
Japanese style gardens. Where a characteristic was described in some detail, i.e. with
additional information to enhance the description, then that will have counted as two of the
ten points necessary for full marks. Example of such detailed descriptions would have been
“Stones and rocks selected for their form and to represent mountains in the natural
landscape” or “Dry garden where raked gravel is used to represent flowing water”.

Other characteristics that the examiner’s comments suggest include pruning evergreen shrubs and
trees in a highly controlled way to represent clouds; allowing other plants such as Acer to grow
naturally to echo trees found in the natural landscape; and the use of beautiful and decorative
objects and plants with traditional symbolic value such as the tea house, stone lanterns, flowering
Prunus trees and bamboo structures.