Gardens have always meant a lot to people. Gardens are as much about nature as they are about culture. The extent to which gardens carry and embody both similar and different layers of meaning will be demonstrated by comparing two classical gardens, the Taj Mahal tomb garden of the Mughal rulers in Agra, India, and the Ryoan-ji dry landscape garden of the Zen monks in Kyoto, Japan. Parallels will be drawn by offering a (diachronic) analysis of the historical accumulation of layers of meaning associated with each one of these two gardens, and (synchronic) structural comparisons will be drawn by raising two thematic issues in particular, the inside-outside relationship and the nature-culture relationship. The roles that Islam and Zen Buddhism play in the religious meaning making of these two classical gardens turn out to be strikingly similar, in that they confirm rather than transform other layers of cultural meaning.