Last month, I bought the perfect gift: a new book out from Phaidon called The Japanese Garden for my Japanese garden enthusiast husband. The cover is an automatic candidate for Instagram, but its contents—“an exploration spanning 800 years of the art, essence, and enduring impact of the Japanese garden”—are most superlative.

Author Sophie Walker walks the reader through the elements (including reflective surfaces and sculpture) and design (courtyards, Zen principles, dry gardens) of Japanese gardens. Dispersed through different visual spreads are new essays from architects Tadao Andō and John Pawson, and artists such as Lee Ufan and Anish Kapoor. And particularly useful for planting purposes is an appendix on the trees and shrubs, perennials and herbaceous plants, and ferns and mosses of Japan.